December 21, 2015
JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education has awarded 286 scholarships to parents of students with special needs, totaling $198,139.41. The Education Scholarship Accounts (ESA), created through the 2015 Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act, provides an opportunity for parents who wish to withdraw their child with special needs from the public school system to use scholarship money to help defray the cost of private school tuition or other specific allowable activities to educate their child.
The ESA allows for a maximum of 433 scholarships to be made available to Mississippi residents and to be disbursed into four equal quarterly reimbursement periods of $1625.00 or the amount of actual receipts not to exceed $6500.00 per year. The MDE began taking applications July 1, and the agency will continue to accept and approve applications that meet the criteria of the law.
To participate in the program:
- the applicant must be a Mississippi resident;
- the student must have had an active Individualized Education Program (IEP) from a public school within the last 18 months; and
- the parent must sign an agreement to adhere to the rules of participation.
Since July 1, the MDE has received 420 applications. Ten applications were withdrawn, and 124 applications were denied. The majority of the denials were because students didn’t have official IEPs issued by a school district. Per federal law, only a public school can issue an IEP.
Parents are reimbursed for expenses quarterly after submission of a reimbursement request with proper documentation of expenses incurred. Funds can also be paid quarterly directly to an educational service provider if approved by the parent.
The total amount of each ESA for 2015-2016 is $6,500.
Patrice Guilfoyle, APR
Director of Communications
Jean Cook, APR