Letter to the Editor: Questions
BY Robert M. Peters, Bartlesville
Sunday, January 06, 2013
1/06/13 at 7:49 AM
House Bill 3392, the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Act, was signed into law in June 2010. Question, however, remain.
There was no need for this costly and unnecessary legislation. Special-needs students in Oklahoma already were being served by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, with its highly trained teachers and layers of accountability.
Further, Tulsa County District Judge Rebecca Nightingale ruled the law unconstitutional last March, but allowed the law to remain in effect pending an appeal. The legal process might require several years before being resolved and there are some troubling aspects of the law:
A private school may accept a tuition payment from public school funds, ranging from $5,000 to $9,000 for a special-needs student, even though it lacks a teacher with specialized training or certification to remediate the child's problem. Incredible as it may seem, the private school is not required to provide special education for the special-needs student transferring from a public school.
Equally incredible, once tuition from public funds has been paid to the private school, the parent is not required to continue with special education for his or her child and may "opt out" by signing a waiver.
As taxpayers, we would like to know (1) how many special-needs students are now attending private schools, and also (2) how many are actually receiving special education services. Perhaps the Oklahoma State Department of Education can provide this information.
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