Schools should comply with law aimed to benefit students with special needs

BY STATE REP. DAVID DERBY Published: October 29, 2010

In America, we're blessed to be a free nation with laws created through a democratic process. That's why we can't just pick and choose what laws we want to obey. The framework that makes this country great cannot stand if all citizens are not treated the same, equally subject to the law.

Recently, several school districts have voiced opposition to House Bill 3393, a new law that allows parents of children with special needs to receive scholarships that can be used for private school tuition. The scholarship is basically the amount of money the state would spend on those students in public school.

Officials at the Bixby, Broken Arrow, Jenks, Owasso and Union school districts voted to break that law by ignoring HB 3393. Apparently, these districts believe it is a threat to allow a handful of students with exceptional and unique needs to obtain scholarships. That's nonsense. And it's wrong to treat these families and their children like second-class citizens.

This law, also known as the "Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship," is important to families with special needs children. These parents need increased flexibility to assist their children in getting an education. Sometimes public schools cannot properly care for these students. Other options are both needed and available, but cost usually prohibits alternative routes. Allowing these students to have a scholarship to attend a private school that specializes in aiding children with their specific challenges (including autism) is vital.

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