Special needs children targeted in legislation

Published 8:38 am Monday, June 6, 2011

RALEIGH – Friday morning’s passage of House Bill 344 (Tax Credit for Children with Disabilities) in the House Finance Committee represents a continued momentum push that will greatly benefit our most special children, said Darrell Allison, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC).

House Bill 344, which passed 21-7 with strong bipartisan support, allows parents of special needs parents to claim a tax credit of up to $6,000 for educational expenses, including nonpublic school tuition, therapy and tutoring. The bill was previously approved in the House Education Committee and Allison hopes it reaches the House floor soon.

“Friday’s vote represents continued hope that parents like Leslie Petruck, Terri Burcham and thousands more across our state will receive the help they desperately need,” Allison said. “These parents spend up to thousands per month because while our state has great public schools, not every school can meet the needs of every child. This bill helps those children and saves taxpayers millions.”

Petruck, of Charlotte, and Burcham, of Greensboro, were featured in a PEFNC video highlighting the need for HB 344. PEFNC sent the video to every state legislator, reminding them that there are thousands of parents who struggle financially to provide a quality education for their child.

Nearly 200,000 K-12 students are estimated to be receiving special education and other related services this school year. This costs the state $8,160 and school districts $1,931 per student. It is estimated that up to five percent of qualified students will take advantage of the tax credit, which would save the state $10 million a year and school districts $9.2 million per year. To qualify, a child must be in public school for at least a year and have a current Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

Similar programs exist in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma and Utah.