The new Special Needs Scholarship Program (SNSP) is separate from the WPCP and has a separate application process and substantial list of private school duties. Students enrolled in the program receive a $12,000 voucher to attend a participating private school. Among other things, private schools that want to participate in this program must be accredited. The school must notify the DPI of their intent and the number of spaces it has available. There is no family income requirement. The scholarship is for students with an IEP who have been attending a public school and have been rejected by another public school district through the open enrollment (public school choice) program. Once granted, the scholarship is good until the child graduates from high school or turns 21. If the child is determined to no longer have a disability, the child can continue at the school with a scholarship equal to the voucher amount available under the WPCP. Students in this program are eligible for busing services.
Navigating a New Choice
The SNSP does not provide special transportation services. SNSP students only receive the same busing services as other private school students.
While students with special needs may be entitled to special transportation services under federal laws, how this relates to the SNSP students is still being worked out.
For WCRIS schools, the SNSP student eligibility options for the 2016-17 school year may benefit our current private school students, however in the future this program focuses only on providing options for public school students with disabilities.
The SNSP is organized like the Private School Choice Programs, with a few different requirements of participating schools. Some of these requirements may be difficult or impractical for your school to implement and you may find that these barriers for your school outweigh the benefits of this program.
What’s important is having an understanding of the finer details of programs like the SNSP so that your school is prepared, if the day comes when you decide to participate.