Mississippi Department of Education announces plans to award new special needs scholarship accounts

Mississippi Department of Education announces plans to award new special needs scholarship accounts

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Ware family has three children. Their youngest two have both been diagnosed with autism, and public school wasn’t meeting their needs -- but the alternative isn’t cheap.

“When you wait eight years to hear your child call you mama, it’s worth anything,” said mother Stacy Ware.

They’ve been wait-listed for the education scholarship accounts for the last two and a half years, but luck will soon be taken out of the equation and priority will go to families like theirs.

“We knew as of March that there was more money available but at that point we were still being told it was a lottery process," explained Ware. "So, to hear yesterday it wasn’t a lottery process and we were prioritized... it was unbelievable.”

The Department of Education anticipates there will be 280 additional special needs scholarships available this year.

“It’s a life changer for us," Ware noted. "It takes a lot of financial stress off of our family.”

Lawmakers voted in the eleventh hour of the legislative session to add two million dollars for the special education scholarship accounts. Critics say it’s taking needed money away from public schools. Stacy Ware is glad some lawmakers fought the controversy.

“For them not to understand and not to want our kids and other kids like ours to have this opportunity is sad," Ware described. "Because why wouldn’t you want to put a child in an opportunity where they can grow? And why wouldn’t you want to put them somewhere where they can flourish?”

The program is set to expire after next year unless lawmakers renew it.

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