If you are like most people, you look at the McKay Florida Scholarship Fund with a lack of understanding as to how your child was assigned the amount they were assigned. You might wonder whether or not the scholarship assigned was appropriate or not. Here are some common questions that parents ask:
– Why does my neighbor’s child receive a few thousand dollars more per school year in McKay funding than my chid?
– Is my child’s IEP/504 Plan appropriate? Does it contemplate all of his/her needs?
– Is there an ethical way to increase my son’s/daughter’s McKay Scholarship fund?
Before these questions can be addressed, it’s important that we understand where the scholarship amount comes from. The child’s scholarship comes from their Matrix Score and the Matrix Score comes from the IEP/504 Plan. The scholarship amount is an estimated amount that it costs to educate and provide services to a child with a disability in the public school system. It is the amount that the public school system will provide to a parents school of choice in accordance with the child’s estimated cost to service. Obviously, a child with more specialized services and related services (a child with more needs), will have a higher matrix score. The child with significant needs is estimated to cost more to educate than a child who has minimal needs and can be educated with some supports in the general education classroom.
When consulting with a special needs advocate about the McKay Scholarship program, it is important to understand that an advocate cannot wave a magic wand and up your matrix score with fairy dust. The advocate is held to the ethical standard of revising IEP’s that need revising and assisting in creating IEP’s that are suitable for children, the same obligation that the school district is bound to. BUT what we can do is review the current IEP, alongside the child’s most recent evaluations and school based data to determine if the IEP was written appropriately. An IEP that is written appropriately means that it has completely contemplated all areas of student need, who will deliver the instruction/service and time periods (exp.30mins vs. 60 mins) of delivery that will lead to measurable gains. What I have found is that most IEP’s are NOT written to reflect the full scope of what a child’s needs are. It is in these many cases that revisions to the current IEP can lead to an increased matrix score and thus an increased McKay Scholarship allotment.
It is important for the IEP to reflect the child’s strengths and abilities, as well as their needs. While it’s essential that no stone is left uncovered in the IEP wherever there is a true need, equally it is important that a child is not over serviced or placed in an environment that is too restrictive. For the purpose of McKay Scholarship and for all other substantive purposes, parents will receive a great benefit in having a second set of eyes review the current educational plan. Parents, the school year is closing in on us but their is still time to request an IEP revision meeting and to apply for the McKay Scholarship Fund following the IEP’s revision.
To learn more about our service, please contact us and a member of our staff will contact you:
Krista Barth, Special Needs Advocate