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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Lawmaker seeks to ease entry into McKay Scholarship program



Florida lawmakers continue to propose changing state law to make it easier for students to get into publicly funded education programs outside the realm of the public school system.

In recent years, the Legislature expanded access to virtual education programs, after some parents complained about limitations within the law. It also acted several times to grow the corporate tax credit scholarship program that provides financial support for low income children to attend private schools.

Now there's a proposal to lift restrictions on who can receive a McKay scholarship, which helps students with disabilities attend private schools that meet their needs. Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, has filed a bill that would strip the requirement that a child must have attended a public school for one year before qualifying for the voucher.

"When students struggle, the goal is to try to get them into the most successful environment as quickly as possible," Steve Hicks, president of the Coalition of McKay Scholarship Schools, which represents private schools that accept the scholarship dollars, told the Redefined blog.

Waiting a year before moving their child doesn't always serve the students' or families' interests, Hicks told the site.

The McKay scholarship is one of the only Florida voucher programs that has not fallen to lawsuits. It has become a model for similar programs around the country.

[Last modified: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 3:01pm]


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