Under the Dome

Bill granting scholarships to children with disabilities goes to governor

Some families can’t afford to put their children with disabilities into private schools that better suit their needs. Sponsors of a bill the House concurred on on Monday aim to fix that.

“This is an opportunity for children with special needs to get some educational help where they’re not receiving it,” said Rep. Paul Stam of Apex, a Republican. “The big change is that it makes parents who are too poor to pay income taxes eligible for the same program that those who do pay income tax are eligible for.”

House Bill 269 amends a relatively new law that offers tax credits to parents who want to place their children with disabilities in private schools. The new bill offers a $6,000 per year scholarship, instead of a tax credit so low-income families who don't pay taxes can use it. Critics of the law say it takes away from public schools.

“My beef is with the underlying (law) that (the bill) seeks to fix,” said Rep. Rick Glazier, a Fayetteville Democrat. “But this bill may make it a touch better. It might allow some economically disadvantaged kids to cobble together some economic capacities.”

The Senate’s changes to the bill were minor, Stam said. The new version calls for the N.C. State Education Assistance Authority to report annually to the Department of Public Instruction and the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee, as opposed to just the committee.

Lawmakers concurred in a 91-20 vote. The bill will be sent to Gov. Pat McCrory.

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