Baria says he has better idea for helping Mississippi’s special needs kids

A Coast lawmaker says an amendment he’ll offer to replace a school-voucher bill would save the state millions.

David Baria, D-Waveland, said creating an Office of Special Needs Counsel would cost $1.5 million per year and cover all of the state’s approximately 63,000 special needs children.

He said he’ll make another attempt to get that passed in the next couple of days by replacing a bill that would offer “education scholarship accounts” to help meet the needs of special needs children. He said the ESA proposal would cover about 500 children at an annual cost of $3.25 million….

…Sen. Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula, and an author if the ESA bill, said he’d rather empower parents.

“Instead of using even more taxpayer dollars to hire lawyers for the parents to tell the schools to do what they are already supposed to be doing, I prefer to empower parents to make the decisions needed to ensure their child receives the best education possible,” said Watson in an email. “Many public schools already do a fine job with their special needs children, but all of them do not. At the end of the day, I trust parents to make the right decision for their children. Additionally, SB 2695 has 26 separate accountability measures to make sure the money is used properly.”

Sunherald
3/4/15