SPECIAL NEEDS SCHOLARSHIP EXPANSION GOES TO GOVERNOR IN A KEY VICTORY FOR GEORGIA KIDS

Georgia students with special needs and their families experienced a significant victory today. Legislation to expand educational options is now on its way to Governor Kemp for his signature. After clearing the House last Thursday, today the Georgia State Senate gave final approval to SB47.

For the past two years, GeorgiaCAN and our coalition partners have fought to expand the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship program to include Section 504 students diagnosed with autism, dyslexia, ADHD, epilepsy and other medical conditions which impact their ability to learn.

The bill, sponsored by Senator Steve Gooch, was approved in a bipartisan vote by the House 91-71 and the Senate 30-23.

Georgia’s current special needs scholarship allows parents whose students have Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) to use the state funds allocated for their child at a traditional public school to attend a private school of their choice. SB 47 expands the eligibility to include special needs students with Section 504 plans and one of the 21 medical conditions specified in the legislation. According to the Georgia Department of Education, roughly 55,000 students have a 504 plan but not an IEP.

In addition to working with state legislators directly on the legislation, the GeorgiaCAN team was successful thanks to the full court press applied by its advocates who were contacting legislators, including calls, emails, social media posts and letters. The team’s work continues, but we are emboldened by the courage and leadership of Georgia legislators to ensure that all children have the education options and opportunities they deserve. We are also thankful for the amazing partners we have gotten the chance to work besides in this effort – the Georgia Federation of Children, Georgia Center for Opportunity and others. 

We at GeorgiaCAN believe that all kids should have access to an education that works for them! We will continue that fight until that is possible.

Thank you for support and commitment to our effort.

Michael O’Sullivan is the executive director of GeorgiaCAN.

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