School Choice Program for Certain Students with Exceptionalities
- Enacted 2010
- Launched 2011
Louisiana provides vouchers to students with certain exceptionalities in eligible parishes to attend private schools of their parents’ choosing that provide educational services specifically addressing their needs. Learn more about the program details on this page, including eligibility, funding, regulations, legal history and more.
We do not administer this program.
Participating Students (2019-20)
of Students Eligible in the Applicable Parishes
Participating Schools (2019-20)
Average Voucher Value (2018–19)
Value as a Percentage of Public School Per-student Spending
Louisiana’s School Choice Program for Certain Students with Exceptionalities Participation
The educational certificate (voucher) is worth a maximum of 50 percent of the state per-student expenditure within the recipient’s district (this averages to about $2,500 in 2020–21) or the cost of private school tuition, whichever is less. Families are responsible for any additional tuition charged by the school.
Students qualify if they have one of six categories of learning exceptionalities, have an Individualized Education Plan or services plan in accordance with Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, reside in a parish with more than 190,000 residents, and are eligible to attend a public school and are not deemed gifted or talented.
EdChoice Expert Feedback
Louisiana’s voucher for students with special needs helps hundreds of students access schools that are the right fit for them, but policymakers could do more to expand educational opportunity.
Eligibility for the scholarships is limited to students with certain special needs who live in parishes with up to 190,000 residents. About 6 percent of students in these parishes are eligible to receive a scholarship, but only 1.0 percent of students participate in one of Louisiana’s private educational choice options (including the Tuition Donation Credit Program and the Louisiana Scholarship Program).
The average scholarship size is about $2,500 which is only about 20 percent of the average expenditure per student at Louisiana’s district schools.
In order to expand access to educational choice, Louisiana policymakers should increase the voucher amounts to be comparable with the per-pupil spending at district schools and expand eligibility to all students. The program could also be converted into an education savings account to ensure that all students have access to the education that’s the right fit for them, whether private school or a customized course of education.
Louisiana’s voucher program for students with special needs generally unnecessary and counterproductive regulations.
Rules and Regulations
- Income Limit: None
- Prior Year Public School Requirement: None
- Geographic Limit: Parish (population of 190,000 or more)
- Enrollment Cap: None
- Voucher Cap: Conditional
- Testing Mandates: None
- *Limited to students with special needs
- Be approved by the state to participate
- Comply with state nondiscrimination and health and safety requirements
- Have existed and provided educational services to students with special needs for two years prior to participating in the program
- Teachers must be certified to teach special education
No legal challenges have been filed against the program.
School Choice Program for Certain Students with Exceptionalities State Groups
That Support School Choice
The Louisiana Federation for Children is affiliated with American Federation for Children. This organization seeks to empower families, especially lower-income families, with the freedom to choose the best K–12 education for their children.