Parents: Tulsa County Schools Turned Their Backs On Us

Tuesday, October 12th 2010, 6:08 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Parents of special needs students say they're appalled that several Tulsa County school districts are deciding not to comply with a new state law.

House Bill 3393 requires public schools to provide funding to parents who want to send their special needs children to private schools.

10/12/10 Related Story: Tulsa Union, Bixby Schools Refuse To Comply With Special Needs Funding Law

Many parents have already enrolled their kids in private school, assuming they would receive the scholarship money. Now, they feel these districts have turned their backs on them.

11-year-old Jackson and 12-year-old Miles are doing something their moms say they rarely ever did before, they're enjoying school and they're learning.

"He comes home every day and talks about his day," said Kimberly Tylycki, Jackson's mom. "He actually does his homework every day. He never did his homework in the public school system."

"It's changed our whole dynamic as a family because he's now a happy student who feels comfortable in his own skin," said Miles' mom Michelle Eagle.

Both boys have high-functioning autism. They are two of 135 students at the Town and Country School. All have autism, Asbergers Syndrome, or other learning disabilities.

Seventeen, including Jackson and Miles, were enrolled after House Bill 3393 passed.

But in the past week, districts like Jenks, Broken Arrow, Union and Bixby have decided not to comply with the law. That means none of the students will receive any scholarship money.

"All I can tell them is let's wait and see what happens but know that we will do everything we can to help them stay here with us," said Town and Country Educator Mary Lawrence.

The Tulsa County districts call 33-93 unconstitutional, saying public funds cannot be transferred to private schools like Town and Country.

The parents News On 6 spoke with don't agree, and say they should have been told about this decision earlier.

"We were sort of led to believe the whole summer that they were going to comply with the law, that they were waiting to hear all the final details," said Eagle.

Scholarship money or not, Jackson and Miles will be staying at Town and Country. Their parents say they've made too many strides to put them back in public schools.

"Just the short time we've been here and our child's been here, it's worth it. If I have to work another job, my husband has to work another job, we'll do it. We'll make it work," said Tylycki.

Oklahoma City schools are complying with 3393. But they say private schools in that area are no longer accepting special needs students because many don't have the resources to handle all of the children's needs.