Heartless Lawmakers Block Scholarships for Handicapped Children

Last week, three callous members of the House quietly killed Bill 3101, a proposal that would have provided scholarships to children with disabilities attending independent and private schools.

The “Special Needs Scholarship Program” was designed for parents with handicapped children who felt their local public school was unable to sufficiently provide for the child’s unique educational requirements. HB 3101 created a process to request and authorize a transfer of the student to a neighboring district or to a private school. The proposal was similar to (but financially smaller than) the popular McKay Scholarship in Florida.

The bill would have used the individual education plans (IEPs) created by local school districts to help determine the best educational options for the handicapped students. These IEPs are already required by the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) and work to ensure that every student -regardless of their abilities- receives a free and appropriate education.

Many special needs students already attend private schools (with state and federal support) under their IEP. Because of the high cost of educating students with certain types of disabilities, public school districts often choose to send these kids to private schools during the process of developing an IEP. In these cases local, state, and federal money follows the child to that private school.

But HB 3101 was much more narrow in scope. It merely sought to provide parents with a scholarship that amounted to a fraction of the state spending. It further promised that pupils who transfered out would still be counted on the public school rolls for state and local appropriations. In other words – local public schools would not incur the costs of educating the child, but would receive all the local, state, and federal spending on that child anyway.

Those who opposed the bill:
Denny Woodall Neilson
Herb Kirsh
Brian White

Those who voted in favor of HB 3101:
Harry B. “Chip” Limehouse, III
James H. “Jay” Lucas

Neilson, Kirsh, and White are heartless. Their vote to deny benefits to the parents of handicap children once again makes it clear: “defenders” of public schools who blindly reject school choice proposals are not working for the interests of their constituents.

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13 responses to “Heartless Lawmakers Block Scholarships for Handicapped Children

  1. I best those three don’t get reelected. Guess what we have a choice also to get rid of them.

  2. I totally agree with you Alesia ! Just like we have a choice in the upcoming election in November. All we hear is promises , promises and more promises. Anyone can make a promise….but if you don’t keep it what good is it?
    Let’s all keep this is mind !

  3. The good voters of Districts 56, 47, and 6 need to turn out and clean out those legislators who are failing our children by not supporting choice – especially for the state’s most vulnerable citizens – children with special needs. I work for a private non-profit school for children with special needs. I daily endure the complaints, frustration, and anger of parents who tell us the public schools are failing their children with special needs. These parents are desperate for help. What these three legislators do not understand is what they fail to support now, they will pay for later in higher costs when these children fail to reach their full potential because our State kept throwing good money after bad in public schools that are unable and unwilling to provide the services these children need and deserve. Vote them out.

  4. I will be calling all my friends who have special needs children who are constituents of these three. With 15 % of all South Carolina Public School students having disabilities, maybe its time to get all these parents of these children voting for some new leadership. Leadership that stands up for those who can not speak for themselves. My feeling is that maybe Nielson, Kirsch and White just haven’t read Washington’s monitoring reports on our States ability or rather inability to educate children with disabilities. Had they read these reports, they would have undoubtedly voted to give our children this vital chance in life.

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