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Oklahoma – Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities


Oklahoma – Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities

Oklahoma’s Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities provide students with special needs school vouchers to attend a private school of their parents’ choice. The program was enacted and launched in 2010. Eligible students must have or qualify for an Individualized Education Plan to participate. On this page, you’ll find more information about the program, including funding, eligibility, and legal history.

Program Fast Facts

  • One of 15 private school choice programs exclusively for students with special needs

  • 377 participating students (2014–15)

  • 15 percent of students eligible statewide

  • 51 participating schools (2014–15)

  • Average voucher value: $6,632 (2014–15)

  • Value as a percentage of public school per-student spending: 99 percent

Program Details

Oklahoma’s Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program Participation

Students Participating
School Year Ending

Click the + symbols to learn more about this program’s details.

Oklahoma students with special needs currently in public school are eligible to receive a voucher to attend a private school chosen by their parents.

Student Funding

The voucher is worth the state and local dollars spent on the child in his or her public school or the chosen private school’s tuition and fees, whichever is less. The child’s resident school district can keep up to 5 percent of the funds for administrative purposes.

Student Eligibility

Any student with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) in effect and who either spent the prior year attending an Oklahoma public school or is the child of an active-duty member of the armed forces who has been stationed in Oklahoma is eligible. After receiving a voucher, the child will continue to qualify each year through high school graduation or until such time as the child would return to a public school. Students who were previously provided services under an Individual Family Service Plan through the SoonerStart program and during transition were evaluated and determined to be eligible for school district services no longer need to have spent the prior school year in attendance at a public school to be eligible.

Rules and Regulations

  • Income Limit: None
  • Prior Year Public School Requirement: Conditional
  • Geographic Limit: Statewide
  • Enrollment Cap: None
  • Voucher Cap: Conditional
  • Testing Mandates: None
  • *Limited to students with disabilities
  • School Requirements:
    • Be accredited by the state board of education or approved accrediting association
    • Comply with state nondiscrimination and health and safety requirements
    • Must have been in operation for one school year prior to participation in the program
    • Provide a statement by a certified public accountant confirming the private school is insured and the owners have sufficient capital or credit to operate or provide record of a surety bond or credit for the amount equal to the scholarship funds for any quarter
    • Teachers must have a bachelor’s degree or at least three years of teaching experience in public or private schools, or have special skills, knowledge, or expertise that qualifies them to provide instruction in the subjects taught

Governing Statutes

Okla. Stat. §§ 70-13-101.1 and 101.2

Legal History

On November 20, 2012, the Supreme Court of Oklahoma dismissed the Jenks Public Schools system’s lawsuit against parents using Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships on procedural grounds, stating the school districts do not have standing as Oklahoma taxpayers to sue under the state’s constitution. Ind. Sch. Dist. No. 5 of Tulsa Co. v. Spry, 2012 OK 98, 292 P.3d 19 (2012).

In October 2013, 12 plaintiffs renewed the legal challenge by suing the state as individual taxpayers. In a written opinion released September 10, 2014, the Oklahoma County District Court ruled the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship for Students with Disabilities program violates Article 2, Section 5 ­­­– the Oklahoma Constitution’s Blaine amendment – only insofar as the program allows public funds to be used to pay tuition at private, sectarian, schools; paying tuition at private, non-sectarian religious schools is not permissible in this narrow ruling. The Court also stayed its own decision until Oklahoma’s Supreme Court could render a final decision.

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