The Jon Peterson Special Needs (JPSN) Scholarship Program provides scholarships to students who are eligible to attend kindergarten through 12th grade and have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) from their district. The amount of each scholarship will be based on the primary disability condition identified on the student's Evaluation Team Report (ETR) and will not exceed $27,000. Students must be enrolled in the scholarship program for the entire program year to receive the full scholarship amount.
The passage of House Bill 49 eliminated student application deadlines for the JPSN Scholarship Program. Students have the ability to apply for JPSN Scholarship year-round.
A step by step guide to homeschooling in Ohio with the Jon Peterson scholarship program (PDF download) and helpful Powerpoint slide presentation that outlines the process.
The IEP (Individual Education Plan) came on the scene in the public schools to identify a child with special needs and to outline steps needed for that child to increase access and increase success in the large group setting. A student qualifies for this document when he/she scores 1.5 standard deviations below the mean in 2 areas of development or 2 standard deviations below the mean in 2 areas of development. The testing is done by a team of staff members at your local school district and it’s called an ETR (and evaluation team report). Here’s a link with more information on the definition of an IEP.
Yes, it certainly is. Students who are homeschooled are in a school placement that naturally provides an individual education in the true and best sense of the word. As the parent, you have control over curriculum choice, pace and focus. The homeschool parent can adjust as needed without special meetings and testing. One might wonder why a homeschooler would want to keep or pursue getting an initial IEP, especially because the student is no longer in a large group setting. In many cases, there is little reason to keep an IEP active because the homeschool parent can automatically adjust needed to create success for the student. However, now there is a financial reason why keeping/obtaining an IEP is helpful to homeschooling families.
The benefit for families who have a homeschooled student with special needs is that they can pursue the John Peterson Scholarship. Through this scholarship, the ODE funds the therapies that the student would have qualified for if the student was enrolled in the district. This is funded with tax dollars. Therapies include Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy, and an Intervention Specialist.
If you suspect that your student would qualify for services, the first step is to email the director of special education, or school psychologist with a formal written request to do and ETR (this is also called a “comprehensive multi-factored evaluation”).
In my experience, email has been working well. In this request you’d state your reasons why you believe your child would qualify. Much in the same way you’d build a case for your student to receive any scholarship at all. A case must be built to show eligibility for the funding. If you have a diagnosis or additional testing on the student, it is helpful to bring/share documentation. Then, the school has 60 days to conduct testing and write the team report if the student is eligible. After that, the district has 30 days to write the IEP. Sometime during this process, find a provider (all are listed by county on the ODE website).
For step by step information on the process of obtaining an IEP/ETR for obtaining the Jon Peterson Scholarship, see the “Pursuing the Jon Peterson Scholarship as Ohio Homeschoolers” document, linked in the section above.
A JP Provider is a private business owner who has been cleared by the ODE to provide special education services. Some have numerous staff members and many services to provide all in one location. Some will have staff members come to the home, and some are set up to have classroom/office tutoring only.
The JP provider has the freedom to set up business in their own way, so it would be important for you to find out the details with the providers in your area. They provide the services that are agreed upon, and then the provider sends the bill to the ODE. The ODE pays the provider for the services so that services are at no cost to you (except through your tax dollars).
Here’s a link to more JP provider information: http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Other-Resources/Scholarships/Special-Needs-Scholarship
It’s commonly suggested not to mention the scholarship as the final goal of testing. You can if you wish, however, I’ve been told by many that there is less resistance if the scholarship is not mentioned.
Here is a sample email:
Hello, I am writing today to formally request a comprehensive multi-factored evaluation (ETR). We are a homeschooling family that resides in this district. Some of the concerns I have are: <List area of issues here and interventions/curriculum used at home. Mention spelling, retention, handwriting issues with one-on-one instruction...and anything else to build the case for the scholarship. Include any outside diagnosis as well.>
I am interested in learning, through a comprehensive multi-factored evaluation, if he/she would qualify for services should he/she ever be enrolled in the future. Kindly, please reply with a date for testing to determine eligibility for services. I am aware of the law, per IDEA, that the ETR needs to be completed within 60 days of this formal request (which is being sent on <DATE>).
Thank you so much for your attention to this matter.
The scholarship funding pays for the special education services that are listed in section 7 of your student’s IEP. These services include Intervention Specialist (this is the special education teacher who works toward academic IEP goals), Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy. The funding does not go toward reimbursement for homeschool curriculum, annual homeschooling assessments, or any other homeschool extracurricular. The funding amount is determined by the student’s special needs category. Funding ranges between $7900 -$27,000 annually. If the student begins later in the fiscal year, that amount will be prorated.
Your district of residence is responsible for updating the IEP document and testing. If you have a JP provider who has been providing special education services prior to the IEP’s expiration date, it is common practice for the provider to send the present level of functioning and suggested goals to you and to the person of contact at your school district. This information is provided to update the paperwork. Most schools copy/paste this information onto the new document. Other schools will request that you, as the homeschool parent, provide additional information.
Some school districts will resist testing so it’s wise to know your rights and kindly let them know that it IS required by law (IDEA) that they provide the TESTING. It is NOT required that they provide services, however. Some districts do offer services, so it’s possible but very rare. If you encounter an issue after the school district has received your formal request, first get to know your rights:
We have put together a sample letter you can use as a template to send to grumpy districts, to encourage them to follow the law. That sample letter, called “ETR Refusal Reply Letter” is available in the OHIO Homeschooling & the Jon Peterson Scholarship Facebook group.
If that does not work to get a response either, here’s one more resource for free help if your district refuses testing:
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