Bill establishes SPED program

Published 7:00 am Thursday, June 11, 2015

Students with disabilities in Mississippi will be able to apply for a new program designed to offer them an equal opportunity.

The Mississippi Department of Education recently released application information for the special needs scholarship program, which was established by the 2015 Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed the measure into law in April, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

Senate Bill 2695 is meant “to create a pilot program for the equal opportunity for students with special needs.”

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Patrice Guilfoyle, communications director at the Mississippi Department of Education, said the program is designed to provide parents with the option to provide services to their children outside the public school system.

“The program helps parents who want to remove their child from public school to seek other options like private school or access to independent services like tutoring,” Guilfoyle said.

The program provides up to $6,500 in scholarship funds to parents of students with disabilities, according to a press release from the Mississippi Department of Education.

In order to participate in the program, the applicant must have been active in the last 18 months with the Individualized Education Program provided in public schools, the applicant must be a Mississippi resident and a parent or guardian must sign an agreement adhering to the rules of participation, according to the press release.

Applications will be released and accepted beginning July 1 and reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis. Applicants will be notified no later than July 31 if they were accepted or denied, the press release states.

For more information about the application process, visit