Supplemental Grants for students with disabilities

Some say that SB 1716 is a voucher bill. It does provide money to parents to use for educational purposes. That might include tutoring, or computer hardware or software, or related services.  Unlike most true voucher bills, however, this one is only available to students who are enrolled in a public school.  It’s further limited to students with disabilities, and will be further limited by T.E.A. criteria to ensure that the amount of money appropriated will go to those in most need.

The bill charges the Commissioner with developing rules by December 1, 2021 for a “supplemental special education services and instructional materials program” whereby an account can be set up for each eligible student to provide access to $1500 in services and/or materials, at parental request. “Services” are defined as “additive” services that provide an educational benefit, including OT, PT, speech, private tutoring and other supplemental private instruction.  Providers must be approved by TEA.  “Materials” includes textbooks, computer hardware and software, other tech devices and other suitable materials.

Members of ARD Committees will need to remember that these services are “supplemental” to what the student is entitled to as per the IEP and the requirement to provide FAPE. So the ARD should not, for example, refuse to put OT into the student’s IEP because the parent is already obtaining OT services through this grant program.  If the student needs OT to receive FAPE, the IEP should say so and the school should provide it. If the parent chooses to access this grant money to provide additional OT over and above what the IEP calls for, that’s fine. 


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