The Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act enacted by the Mississippi Legislature during the 2015 Session created the Education Scholarship Account (ESA) program (Senate Bill No. 2695). It is a program designed to give those parents with special needs children the option of withdrawing their child from the public school system and receiving a designated amount of funds to help defray the cost of private school tuition or other specific allowable activities to educate their child. The administration of this program has been designated to be performed by the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE).
2018-2019 ESA Flyer
The MDE is charged in the law with the responsibility of developing a standard application to be used to assess the eligibility of each applicant. This application is available here and also in each school district so every interested person will have the opportunity to apply.
The parents must promise to agree to five items before being eligible for the ESA program. The parents applying for this program for their child will be required, as part of the application process, to initial and sign an agreement that lists these requirements. This will ensure that students are not selected to participate whose parents are not willing to agree to abide by these requirements set by the law.
Once the recipients of the program are chosen, they will be mailed an award packet. This packet will include an award letter and reimbursement request instructions. Since the law is very precise on the exact uses allowed for the ESA funds, the OSE has established a list of allowable activities that is available here and will also be given to each recipient of the ESA program in their award packet.
Included in the allowable uses of the ESA funds is tuition at an eligible school.
The law is very precise on the exact duties the MDE is required to perform. A list of these duties has been established and is available here. They will also be included in the award packet provided to the selected recipients of the ESA program.