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Special Education Scholarships Changed
Senior Counsel Dee Black answers questions and assists members with legal issues in North Carolina. He and his wife homeschooled their children. Read more >>
With the enactment of North Carolina House Bill 712 on July 1, 2014, homeschool students with disabilities are no longer entitled to some benefits created last year when scholarships were initially established to fund services for these students in a nonpublic school setting. Although homeschool students may still qualify for the scholarships, their parents will no longer be reimbursed for any tuition expense. Similarly, parents may not be reimbursed for the cost of special education and related services provided to a student by a member of the household of the homeschool. A benefit added for all eligible students is reimbursement for the cost of educational technology.
In order to be eligible for a scholarship, the student must be a person under the age of 22 who meets the following criteria:
- Is a child with a disability;
- Is eligible to attend a North Carolina public school;
- Has not been placed in a nonpublic school or facility by a public agency at public expense;
- Has not been enrolled in a postsecondary institution as a full-time student taking at least 12 hours of academic credit;
- Has not received a high school diploma; and
- Meets at least one of the following requirements:
- Was enrolled in a North Carolina public school during the previous semester;
- Received special education or related services through the North Carolina public schools as a preschool child with a disability during the previous semester;
- Was approved for a scholarship for the previous semester; or
- Is a child who is identified with a disability prior to the end of the year of initial enrollment in kindergarten or 1st grade.
Scholarships are for not more than $3,000 per semester per eligible student. Parents may only receive reimbursement for special education, related services, and educational technology provided to homeschooled students if the parent submits documentation that the student received these benefits for no less than 75 days of the semester for which the parent seeks reimbursement. Students must be reevaluated at least every three years by the local education agency to verify that the student continues to be a child with a disability.
The new law applies to grants awarded for the 2014-2015 school year. Application for the scholarships must be made with the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority.
Because of the eligibility requirements, most families currently homeschooling do not qualify for a scholarship. On the other hand, the new law encourages parents with a special needs child in public school to withdraw their child and begin homeschooling, knowing that the scholarship will provide funds for needed services.
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