Legislature report highlights problems with private school vouchers
In early December, a report released by the PEER, the Mississippi Legislature’s Oversight Agency, outlined inefficiencies in the state’s Education Scholarship Account Program.
An EAS is funded by the state department of education and provides $6,500 per year to either pay private school tuition or reimburse a family for private school tuition. Students qualify if they have been in an Individual Education Program in the past five years. An IEP is a document that outlines a student’s special education plan.
As part of its research, PEER reached out to 101 private schools about their use of ESA vouchers. 33 responded, and 22 said that they rely on local public schools to provide special education services. Federal law requires public schools that receive federal funding for special education must use a portion of those funds to serve children in private schools.
In this situation, public funds pay for a student’s private school tuition and his or her public school educator.
“Private schools are being paid to provide special education services that they are not providing,” Parents Campaign Executive Director Nancy Loome said. “We deserve accountability for how tax dollars are used. Public schools are the most accountable entities in our state, so this is a tremendous double standard.”