Tulsa Mother Hopeful TPS Will Overturn Decision On Special Need Scholarships

Saturday, January 15th 2011, 9:23 pm
By: News On 6

Lacie Lowry, News on 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Tulsa Public Schools will reconsider its decision not to pay private tuition for special needs students.

Despite state law, the district had refused to foot the bill, but now may change its mind and one local family is eager to hear that decision.

Karissa Landers' son, William, has Aspergers Syndrome, an Autism disorder.

"He has very high intellect, but is socially awkward," Karissa said. "Middle school is hard for him because that's the most social time in a kid's life, so he's really struggling."

She was ecstatic when she found out about House Bill 3393 that requires public schools to pay for special needs students to attend private schools.

Then, the district voted to approve the six special needs scholarships it had received, and turned away future applications until the issue went before a judge.

10/11/2010 Related Story: Tulsa Union, Bixby Schools Refuse To Comply With Special Needs Funding Law

Karissa was crushed.

"I just felt like these kids weren't getting what they need and here was their chance and now they're taking it away, the schools are just taking it away," she said.

Now, Tulsa may give that chance back to its 6,000 special needs students in an upcoming meeting.

Karissa doesn't want to get her hopes up, but says she would love to put William in Town and Country, which caters to kids like William with a specific Asperger's program.

"I want him to be able to grow up and be on his own and not be dependent on someone else his whole entire life," she said.

While they wait for a resolution, William is learning to play the guitar and improve his motor skills, and mom is working the keyboard, getting on local message boards with other parents who are waiting for the school board's latest decision.

"I will be watching and listening and hoping," she said.

Bixby and Owasso Public Schools have voted to follow the law after initially ignoring it. Tulsa, Jenks, Union AND Broken Arrow are not following the law.

12/17/2010 Related Story: Bixby Follows Owasso And Drops Opposition To House Bill 3393

The Tulsa school board meeting is Tuesday at 7 p.m.