This school voucher program was enacted in 2010 and launched in 2011 to serve students with certain special needs. Louisiana’s School Choice Program for Certain Students with Exceptionalities helps parents access the best schooling options for their children’s unique needs. Learn more about the program details on this page, including eligibility, funding, regulations, legal history and more.
One of 15 private school choice programs nationwide exclusively serving students with special needs
342 participating students (2015–16)
6 percent of students eligible in the applicable parishes
22 participating schools (2015–16)
Average voucher value: $2,264 (2015–16)
Value as a percentage of public school per-student spending: 21 percent
Louisiana allows students with certain exceptionalities who live in eligible parishes to attend schools of their parents’ choosing that provide educational services specifically addressing their needs. Eligible students are defined generally as those with special needs who have Individualized Education Plans but who are not in accelerated or gifted and talented programs.
The educational certificate (voucher) is worth 50 percent of the state dollars that would have been spent on the child in his or her public school 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 seven categories of learning exceptionalities, have an Individualized Education Plan or services plans in accordance with Title 34 of the code of federal regulations, reside in a parish with more than 190,000 residents, are eligible to attend a public school and are not deemed gifted or talented.
Louisiana’s voucher program for students with special needs is one of the more restrictive voucher programs nationwide, limiting eligibility on both type of learning exceptionality and parish residence. The program is restricted further by the fact vouchers are capped at 50 percent of the funds that otherwise would have gone to the child’s public school. Private schools must be approved by the state and have a program serving the special needs of participants established for two years prior to accepting voucher payments. The program could improve by mirroring Florida’s, Georgia’s or Oklahoma’s statewide voucher programs for students with special needs.
No legal challenges have been filed against the program.