Jodie Banaszak 0

Protecting School Choice for Autism

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The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) is considering enforcing a surety bond on all Autism providers for next school year. To explain, any school that accepts the Autism (ASD) Scholarship is called a provider. In years past, the bond had not been enforced and providers were not required to meet it. This year, ODE changed that requirement.

To be specific, for every $1000 in ASD scholarship funds a provider accepts, they must post $225 in bond. The standard ASD scholarship pays $27,000 per pupil to the provider per year. If a provider enrolls 25 students, for example, at $27,000 each, you can do the math and see how quickly this adds up. The hardship reveals itself for providers who are solely funded by the ASD Scholarship. There simply isn't $145,000+ to carve out of their budgets.

The implications of the bond, if enforced, is the closure of hundreds of Autism schools across the state of Ohio. Thousands of employees will lose their jobs, small businesses such as these will evaporate, and families who depend on these providers will be left with no options for school choice. School choice for children with Autism will be a thing of the past. Only providers who receive funding from multiple sources will survive.

Governor Kasich holds dear the concept of school choice for all children in Ohio. ODE and Governor Kasich must hear our voices of opposition in regard to the implementation of the surety bond for private providers.

This issue is dear to my family because our youngest daughter, Mackenzie, was diagnosed with Autism last summer. She is a beautiful four year old fire cracker that attends an Autism school in Toledo, Ohio. She has made wonderful progress since enrolling last August. It would be a catastrophic blow to her education and goals if her school closes because they cannot meet the demands of the surety bond.

Please support thousands of families across the state of Ohio to protect school choice and provide options for children with Autism by signing the petition.

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