The Mississippi Department of Education announced plans for a lottery on February 8th to award 90 Education Scholarship Accounts (ESA) for the 2017-18 school year that have been made available by families who opted not to participate in the program.
The ESA program which was established by the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act of 2015, provides scholarships to parents of students with disabilities who want to remove their child from a public school to seek educational services elsewhere.
For the 2017-18 school year, the law provides for 435 ESA accounts. Though all 435 scholarships were awarded before the start of the school year, 90 scholarships have gone unused and will be redistributed.
All eligible applications received for the 2017-18 school year that have not yet been awarded will be included in the lottery. Only complete, eligible applications will qualify for the lottery. Letters will be mailed to awardees on February 9.
Additional applicants who would like to be considered for 2017-18 school year lottery must submit an application by February 6. Any eligible applications received after February 6 will be considered for the 2018-19 school year.
ESAs for the 2017-18 school year are $6,494. State law requires ESAs to adjust annually to proportional changes in the base student cost of MAEP, Mississippi’s public education funding formula.
Children with an active Individualized Education Program (IEP) within five years from the date of application are eligible to apply for the ESA program.
To participate in the program:
- the applicant must be a Mississippi resident;
- the student must have had an active Individualized Education Program (IEP) within five years of the date of application; and
- the parent must sign an agreement to adhere to the rules of participation.
The MDE said that parents who are accepted into the program 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.