July 14, 2015
JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) announced today that 166 families have qualified for educational savings accounts that will provide funding for parents of students with disabilities who want to withdraw from public school to seek educational services elsewhere.
The MDE began taking applications July 1 for the scholarship program created through the 2015 Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act. The agency will continue to accept applications until all scholarships have been awarded, and parents of students with disabilities are encouraged to apply.
To participate in the program:
- the applicant must be a Mississippi resident;
- the student must have had an active Individualized Education Program (IEP) within the last 18 months; and
- the parent must sign an agreement to adhere to the rules of participation.
As of Tuesday morning, the MDE had received more than 261 applications. Twelve applications are pending review and 83 applications have been denied. The majority of the denials are because students don't have official IEPs issued by a school district. Per federal law, only a public school can issue an IEP.
Applications are reviewed for eligibility on a first-come, first-served basis until 50 percent of the annual enrollment limits are reached. All remaining eligible applicants will be placed on a waiting list, and a random selection process will then be used to choose the recipients of the remaining scholarships.
Parents will be 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. Based on funding, this will result in 434 ESA accounts.
Patrice Guilfoyle, APR
Director of Communications
Jean Cook, APR