In less than a week, more than 1,100 Florida parents of students with significant special needs including autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy have begun applications for a new type of K-12 scholarship that allows them to individualize their child’s education.
The Personal Learning Scholarship Account (PLSA) program, the second of its kind in the nation, was passed by the Florida Legislature last spring and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott. The application process opened last Friday at Step Up For Students, a nonprofit scholarship organization that is authorized to administer the program. The state set aside $18.4 million for the first year of the program – enough for an estimated 1,800 students.
The scholarships are available to students in kindergarten through 12th grade with one of eight specific learning disabilities. Parents can use the funds for a wide array of educational options, including private school, therapists, specialists, curricula and materials, even contributions to a prepaid college fund.
The application process opened two days after the Florida teachers union filed suit against SB 850, the bill that created the PLSA program. Litigation could continue for several months.