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While the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education works with educators and teachers to meet the educational needs of all students, parents of thousands of special needs students require additional resources to optimally educate their children.
Bryce’s Law, which has been introduced in the Missouri Legislature by state Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst, creates a special needs scholarship tax credit program that would be administered by the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED). Named after Scharnhorst’s late autistic grandson, Bryce’s Law would allow DED to establish criteria and standards for determining scholarship-granting organizations.
Parents of special needs students would be able to use those scholarships to send their children to a school well-suited to work with them. Legislation would serve students in grades k-12 who currently attend a public school with an Individual Educational Program (IEP), including students such as those who are mentally challenged, speech and language impaired, specific learning disabled, deaf or hard of hearing, visually impaired, dual sensory impaired, physically impaired, emotionally troubled, diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, or hospitalized or homebound by illness or disability.
These scholarships would be funded entirely by charitable donations from Missouri taxpayers. Both individual and corporate taxpayers could claim tax credit against the taxpayer’s state tax liability equal to 80 percent of the contribution. Scholarships could be used for payment of tuition and fees as well as transportation costs outside of a resident school district.
Without such assistance, many special needs children have little hope of gaining the education necessary to succeed in society.
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