On June 30, 2011, Governor John Kasich signed the state budget into law and finalized the creation of the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program. After five years of advocating for this program, parents of students with special needs now have new options for their children's education. This scholarship places students' needs at the center of their education and empowers parents with options.
Students with disabilities require options tailored to their special needs and the scholarship gives parents the chance to find the education setting that is most appropriate for their child. Rather than having to fight through a lengthy legal process to secure the services their child needs when their public school isn't working, families will be able to direct part of the tax dollars already set aside for their child's education to the school of their choice.
Named for special education advocate and former Representative Jon Peterson, the program will build on the success of the state's Autism Scholarship Program by providing a scholarship to any student with special needs who has an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
The program is administered by the Ohio Department of Education. Families can apply now for a scholarship for the 2013-2014 school year.
What expenses will the scholarship cover?
Families will be able to use the scholarship to pay for tuition at private schools that offer special education services and for additional services at private therapists and other service providers. In addition, this scholarship can be used at other public providers (i.e. school districts) if the district chooses to accept the scholarship students.
Which students are eligible?
Students in K-12 who have a finalized IEP from their home public school district
Current private school students are eligible as long as they obtain an IEP from their home school district
How do I apply for the scholarship program?
The Ohio Department of Education posted the searchable list of approved providers online at https://scholarship.ode.state.oh.us/Provider
. This list will be updated in real time as ODE continues to approve provider applications.
Families applying for a scholarship should follow these simple steps:
Step 1: Verify your child has an IEP
If your child attends a private school, be sure to request an IEP from the home district by the time of the April 15 deadline. Note that by law, the home school district has 30 days to fulfill the request.
Step 2: Choose a school and / or provider for your child
Review the approved provider list (available online here) and determine the school and/or provider(s) they wish to use. Note that more providers will be added to this list as ODE continues to approve providers.
Step 3: Call and request that your school / provider of choice apply for you
The school and/or provider(s) will apply for the scholarship on your behalf.
Important Application Deadlines for the scholarship:
April 15 – the deadline for the first academic term (July – December)
November 15 – the deadline for the second academic term (January – June)
How many scholarships will be available?
The number of scholarships available is capped at five percent of the students with special needs in the state. Ohio has approximately 235,000 students with an IEP, which means around 11,750 scholarships will be available.
How will each scholarship amount be determined?
Each scholarship will be worth 90 percent of the student's special education funding amount, with a cap of $20,000. See the funding chart below for the amount for each category of disability.
|Special Education Category
||Scholarship Funding per Student
||Number of Ohio Students in Category
|1 – Speech
|2 – Learning Disability
|3 – Hearing or Vision Impaired
|4 – Major Health Impairments
|5 – Multi-handicapped
|6 – Autism, Traumatic Brain Injury, Hearing and Vision Impaired
What is required of private schools to participate in the scholarship?
Have a licensed special educator on staff
Register through ODE’s online application (which will launch in early January)
Create fee structures for the different services and subcontractors
Develop a process to coordinate services provided in-house and off-site
Create and submit quarterly progress reports for each scholarship recipient
Administer all state assessments to scholarship recipients (tests are provided free)
Click here to visit the Ohio Department of Education’s website for more detailed information on the scholarship
Is there any research on the effectiveness and impact of special needs scholarship programs?
In 2003, Dr. Jay Greene and Dr. Greg Forster released the first report on the effect of Florida's special needs scholarship program. In 2008, Dr. Greene and Marcus Winters of the University of Arkansas released a study analyzing special needs scholarships and their impact on public school achievement. Click here
for a research brief that highlights the findings from both studies.
Do you have questions or want more information? Would you like to share your story of how this scholarship will help your family? Enter your information below, and we will keep you updated.
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Thank you for taking this opportunity to tell us why you believe a special needs scholarship is needed for Ohio's families. Your story could make all the difference.