Tuesday, May 4, 2010

National Expert, School Official to Discuss Proposed Scholarship Program for Special Needs Children

WHO: Richard “Dick” Komer, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice (based in Virginia), Ron Brown (former superintendent and parent of a child with disabilities) and state Rep. Jason Nelson (R-Oklahoma City)

WHAT: Press conference to discuss how Oklahoma could become a national leader in providing greater educational opportunities to special-needs children.

WHERE: Room 432 B (press room), Oklahoma Capitol, 2300 North Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City

WHEN: 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 5.

THE STORY AT A GLANCE: Richard “Dick” Komer, senior attorney at the Virginia-based Institute for Justice, will discuss how passage of House Bill 3393 could make Oklahoma a national leader in providing a quality education to special-needs students.
Ron Brown, a former Oklahoma school superintendent and parent of a child with disabilities (including autism) will discuss how the legislation could dramatically aid families of special-needs children.

Komer has litigated school choice cases in both federal and state courts. Prior to his work at the Institute, Komer worked as a career civil rights lawyer for the federal government, working at the Departments of Education and Justice, as well as at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He ended his government employment as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education.

House Bill 3393, by state Rep. Jason Nelson (R-Oklahoma City), creates the Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program. Under the bill, students with disabilities (such as those with Down's syndrome or autism) who have an individualized education program (IEP) would qualify for a scholarship to attend any school that meets the accreditation requirements of the State Board of Education.

The scholarship program would not require new spending during the downturn, but would merely redirect existing funds that are currently being spent on the student.

House Bill 3393 is currently in conference committee, but is expected to advance for final votes in the state House and Senate later this week.
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