Caresse Jackman

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Video: Should The State Provide Special Needs Vouchers To Parents?

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TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI)- For Katie McCustion’s 7 year old son Ian, school is more challenging for him than other students.

“Our son is dyslexic and dysgraphic severely. Ian specifically sees some words turned backwards or say the word read or reading, the “G” might be to the front,” said McCustion.

Dyslexia affects every child differently, which is why Katie is asking for help.

“There’s not a whole lot of options as a parent, especially if you’re middle class. I cannot just take Ian out of school and take him to a special purpose school for him,” said McCustion.

Katie is one of many parents who spoke to Mississippi lawmakers Monday, pushing for special education vouchers. The plan would give $6,000 debit cards to special needs parents. If it passes, parents could use the money to pay for private school tuition or tutoring services.

“If he gets his needs met, that’s awesome. But if he’s not then this $6,000 gives me options as a parent,” said McCustion.

Tupelo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Gearl Loden believes the proposal looks great on the surface, but the devil is in the details. Especially when it comes to public school funding.

“I think parents need to understand that it’s not just $6,000 you can go, buy computers with and pay for tutorial. We’re receiving less than $5,500 per child in Tupelo, but the state’s allowing the children to leave and receive $6,000. So they’re going to give them more to leave than to stay in schools,” said Dr. Loden.

Loden says the proposal also opens the door for fraud. Private schools have no state or federal regulations.

“If they misuse the funds, they’re not going to be forced to pay them back. They’re just removed from the program. And if the funds are already spent then we would be forced to educate the children without receive dollars for them,” said Loden.

Katie says she has nothing against public school, but if the voucher means a better education for her child, she’s all for it.

“Dyslexic kids are never going to test well. They don’t do well on test. And the schools are very geared to test. They’re all about their test scores so it would help,” said McCustion.

Senator Nancy Collins from Tupelo supports the proposal.