While 54 of the 144 districts across the state have at least one former special education student approved for the program, more than half of the students were from metropolitan Jackson or DeSoto County, urban areas with multiple private schools aimed at students with disabilities. Some rural residents either have no private schools nearby or they live near private schools that lack extensive special education programs. Every public school district is required to offer special education services.
School choice supporter Grant Callen, executive director of Empower Mississippi, cautions that it’s too early to judge whether the program can still be a success. He said applications opened after many parents had already made arrangements for their children for this school year.
“It’s going to take some time for the private marketplace to develop,” he said.
Callen noted, for example, that after lawmakers created an earlier program to pay for private schooling for dyslexic students, more schools are exploring programs for those students.