State Creates Scholarship Program for Disabled Children

LITTLE ROCK (KATV)- A new scholarship is available for Arkansas children with disabilities. The scholarship was approved in the last legislative session without a single dissenting vote.

"We had a parent in our office this morning that said this has been a long time coming," Katie Clifford, Reform Alliance executive director, said.

According to the CDC, almost 5 million U.S. students have a learning disability, and now Arkansas will provide complete school of choice to those kids in the state.

"We know all of our children learn differently," Clifford said.

In the 2016 fiscal session, the legislature unanimously approved $800,000 to fund the Succeed Scholarship Program. The state also chose the Reform Alliance to oversee this program.

"I was so very proud that everybody laid their partisanship aside and they did what's best for the kids." Representative Doug House said.

Rep. House was the author of the bill. He said that this scholarship will allow 100 students with individualized education programs, or IEP's, to be eligible for $6,646 to attend an approved private school this school year.

Clifford, with the Reform Alliance, told KATV that is the same amount the state gives a public school district per student.

Clifford said 67 families and 8 schools have been approved so far.

"They might be better served in a smaller environment, in a close knit environment, whatever it is," Clifford said.

Both Clifford and House said they support public schools, but they want children with everything from dyslexia to autism to have a choice in their classroom environment.

"We make a choice where we live, where we shop, where we buy, and who we hang out with. We believe parents should choose where their child is educated," Clifford said.

"It will save the state money, it will save the school districts money, it will save the parents money," House said.

Both want this to be a secondary option behind a public school, and so to qualify a student must have gone to a public school before they can receive the scholarship.

The Succeed Scholarship Program has a rolling application process.

Source: http://katv.com/news/local/state-creates-s...