Children With Special Needs Deserve School Choice

Children With Special Needs Deserve School Choice

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Margaret Kaeberlein started this petition to hudson public schools and

My son, Alex, has both Down syndrome and is severely autistic. Although he is 11 years-old, cognitively Alex only functions at the level of a 10-12 month old child. Alex is not toilet trained, has hearing loss, cannot swallow effectively, is non-verbal, cannot run or jump, requires nutritional supplementation/caloric support, and cannot bathe, dress, or feed himself. 

We are fortunate to live about 30 minutes from the Cleveland Clinic Lerner School for Autism which teaches and works with some of the most severely disabled children in Ohio. The school’s focus is on life skills, and they use intensive, one to one therapies with staff specially trained in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). This school is exactly where a child like Alex - one with truly severe disabilities - needs to be.

Unfortunately, the tuition at Lerner is over $80,000 PER YEAR. Quite simply, this is not an amount we (like many other parents of disabled children) can afford. But it might be possible - if Alex's public school district turned over the extra educational funds they receive every year from the state due to his special needs status. Applying that money to the tuition at Lerner could lower the total tuition out of pocket cost to an amount that we could more easily afford. 

As it stands today - Ohio law provides public school districts with additional money (every year) for each child within their district identified as having special needs. The problem is - parents have no access to this money. Parents often don’t even know the total amount the district receives. As a result, it is the public school district that has full control of those funds and the ultimate say in how and where those funds are used. Inevitably, school districts hold onto those funds, forcing that child to remain within their school district - and ultimately preventing parents from being able to apply that money (intended for their child’s education) toward tuition at another school of their choosing. The current system completely eliminates freedom of school choice for disabled children like Alex.

This is wrong! Parents, not school administrators, deserve the right to that money - as long as it is being used for their child’s education. School choice for the disabled is important. Let’s change this harmful policy that renders the parents of disabled children powerless and at the mercy of their public school district. Children like Alex who receive additional government funds due to having special needs - should be allowed to apply those funds toward tuition at another school if desired.

Remember - this is money for Alex’s education just handed to the public school district because of his special needs status. We pay our taxes in the city where we we live - so we are still supporting our public school district. But the additional funds from the state - due to Alex’s special needs - are meant for Alex’s education and should be his/ours to use at the school we deem best equipped to help our child. 

Help me change this broken and flawed system. Let’s make sure any/all government funds follow the disabled CHILD, not their school district. Let’s put PARENTS in control of that money, not the public school district where they happen to reside.

Please help me to change this now! I humbly ask that you consider signing this petition - which would enable the PARENTS of special needs children the ability to access and use additional government funds intended for the education of their special needs child - giving parents, not public schools, the ultimate say in determining the special education school their child may attend. 

Thank you! 
Alex and family 

 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!
At 2,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!