Monday, August 29, 2011

Procedure for the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Reimbursement Application

Below is a memorandum issued by the State Department of Education to superintendents regarding the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program Act.

This memo addresses the failure of some school districts to make required scholarship payments during the 2010-2011 school year. The memo establishes a procedure for reimbursement if a district did not comply and pay the scholarship funds as contemplated by statute. (Memo dated Aug. 3, 2011)

House Bill 3393 is a law (70 S.D. § 13-102.2) that became effective August 27, 2010. The bill created a scholarship for use at a private school accredited by the State Board of Education for students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).

HB 1744 amends the LNH Scholarship Act. HB 1744, subsection N, allows the OSDE to reimburse parents for scholarship funds they should have received; and then allows the OSDE to bill or adjust the state aid of districts that failed to make required scholarship payments, if a district did not comply and pay the scholarship funds as contemplated by statute. 

In order to provide guidance and clarification for this reimbursement process, the following procedure will be implemented by the OSDE when making determinations to approve or reject applications for LNH Scholarship reimbursement. If an eligible student has been denied full or partial scholarship payments by any school district prior to August 26, 2011, the parent or legal guardian of the student may make an application for reimbursement regarding any scholarship funds that were not properly paid by districts. The LNH Scholarship Reimbursement application will be made available on the OSDE Website and can also be obtained by contacting the OSDE, Special Education Services (SES), (405) 521-4865.

The application shall be processed by the OSDE as follows: 

1. The parent or guardian shall complete and return the application for LNH Scholarship Reimbursement. The application deadline for reimbursement is October 1, 2011.

2. The application must include supporting documentation demonstrating the student’s eligibility for the LNH Scholarship, including, but not limited to, the original application for the LNH Scholarship and the acceptance of the student to an eligible private school.

3. The application shall also be accompanied by two affidavits; affidavit from the parent/guardian, and an affidavit from the private school’s treasurer or head official stating the exact amount of funds that have not been received from the local school district for the LNH Scholarship.

4. Upon receipt of the application and affidavits, the OSDE shall verify that the student qualified for the scholarship and shall verify the appropriate amount of scholarship funds that should be paid.

5. Within three (3) business days of the receipt of the application by the OSDE, the OSDE shall notify the school district in writing of the application for reimbursement. The school district will also be notified of the amount of state aid that will be withheld pursuant to statute, if the OSDE makes a determination to approve the application for reimbursement and when the state aid adjustment for the district would occur.

6. Districts will be given ten (10) business days to either concede the application or to provide evidence of compliance with the LNH Scholarship Act regarding the payment of scholarship funds. Such documentation must be submitted to the OSDE-SES within ten (10) days of the receipt of the district’s notification of Application for Reimbursement. No late submissions will be considered.

7. Any school district that receives notification of a student’s application for Reimbursement of LNH Scholarship funds may make a written request for a hearing in front of the State Board of Education. Such hearing shall be requested within ten (10) days of the district’s receipt of the OSDE notification to the district of the Application for LNH Scholarship reimbursement. If a hearing is requested, it will be set on the next available State Board of Education meeting agenda. The district will be notified of the hearing date and will be required to furnish the OSDE with any and all documents or evidence it intends to present at the hearing no later than five (5) business days prior to the hearing. The hearing and evidence presented will be limited to demonstrating compliance with the provisions of the LNH Scholarship Act. The hearing on the LNH Scholarship Reimbursement Application will be held no later than thirty (30) days from the date of the receipt of the original application and the State Board of Education’s determination regarding district compliance with the LNH Scholarship Act shall be final.

Once a final determination is made by the OSDE that a local school district did or did not comply with the scholarship funding requirements, written notification will be mailed by the OSDE to the district and the applicant. If the State Board of Education determines that reimbursement to the parent/legal guardians of a qualifying student should be made, the OSDE shall issue payment to the parents/legal guardians of the qualifying student in accordance with the statutory guidelines within ten (10) days of the final determination and will make the required adjustments to the school district’s state aid as required by statute.

Requests for the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship reimbursement may be mailed to:

Oklahoma State Department of Education Special Education Services, 
Attention: Anita Eccard 
2500 North Lincoln Boulevard, Room 412 
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105-4599

If you have questions regarding the procedure for the application process for parents requesting reimbursement for children qualifying for the LNH Scholarship for Students with Disabilities Program Act, please contact Ms. Anita Eccard, Associate State Director at (405) 521-4865.

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