Education Scholarship Account (ESAs) Now Available in Mississippi
The newly created Education Scholarship Account (ESA) program is now accepting applications from parents of special needs’ students who have had an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) over the last 18 months. The accounts were created by the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act, championed by Rep. Carolyn Crawford and Sen. Nancy Collins during the 2015 session. (To read the entire bill and to learn about your rights and responsibilities under the program, go here.)
The program gives parents of students with special needs the option of withdrawing their child from the public school system and receiving $6,500 for the school year 2015-2016. These funds can be used to obtain a variety of services, including paying for private school tuition, physical therapy, transportation and assistive technology.
The program is currently under the administration of the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE).
There are 500 scholarships available for the 2015-16 school year. The first 250 scholarships will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. The remaining scholarships will be awarded via random lottery.
The application is available here and also in each school district.
Parents must agree to five requirements in order to receive the scholarships. These include providing an organized, appropriate educational program with measurable annual goals and agreeing not to enroll their eligible child in a public school.
Once the recipients of the scholarships are chosen, they will be mailed an award packet. This packet will include an award letter and reimbursement request instructions. The law limits what the reimbursement funds can be used for. See the list here.
(Adapted from the Mississippi Department of Education Website)