State program could soon affect students with disabilities

JACKSON, Tenn. — Parents of students with a disability met with advisers Wednesday as a new law could change where their student gets an education.

school-sign-crosswalk.png“When they enroll in this program, they’re essentially taking on full responsibility for their child’s education and they’re withdrawing their child from public schools,” said Murti Bhakta, a lawyer with West Tennessee Legal Services.

A law passed by Tennessee lawmakers in 2015 says parents of registered disabled students could receive funding to gain their education through selected private schools or homeschooling.

“Parents should make sure to be aware of what expenses they’re likely going to incur as paying for their child’s education and have a solid plan for what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do it and know how much money it’s going to take,” said Matt Taylor, who works alongside West Tennessee Legal Services as an equal justice works fellow.

Parents would receive money each year to supplement that education, but signing up for this program also means the student would receive some federal protection.

“They are also giving up a lot of the federal protection and safeguards that come into play through federal regulations that govern schools and their responsibility when it comes to provide for children with disabilities,” Bhakta said.

Applications will be accepted Aug. 1, and the program begins in January.

The next meetings will be held at the following locations:

July 7 – Dyersburg McIver Grant Public Library, Dyersburg

July 8 – Selmer Chamber of Commerce, Selmer

July 13 – Carroll Bank and Trust Community Room, Huntingdon

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