VIDEO REPORT: Some Parents Opposed to Special Needs Vouchers

By: Britni McDonald Email
By: Britni McDonald Email

Posted on Monday, February 18, 2013-- 5:37 p.m.

Special needs vouchers are a part of Governor Walker's budget proposal, but many families with children who have disabilities are against them.

Under a bill introduced last year, the state would transfer up to $13,400 dollars from the public system to the private school a student with special needs would rather attend.

Parents from all over the state came together to voice their concerns at the Capitol today.

They say the voucher programs don't guarantee that the schools will accept a student with disabilities or that voucher money will pay for the entire tuition at any private school.

They say families who use these vouchers give up their child's rights and protections guaranteed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

They also claim the vouchers weaken public schools with disabled students by taking money away from them.

An opposed parent, Tracy Hedman, said "Because we live in such a small school district, even if two or three kids use a voucher, it would drain a lot of money out of the special education funding. And that would have a devastating effect on our district."

After the event at the Capitol, Tracy and the other parents planned to visit the Governor's office to make a final plea to get special needs vouchers removed from the state budget.

An advocate for the program with the American Federation for Children says these vouchers work for the families who feel their public schools aren't meeting the needs of their children.

He says the system in place now makes it difficult for them to get their child into the right school, and with these vouchers, Governor Walker is allowing them to make that choice.

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