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Private school voucher proposal for special-needs students to be considered

MADISON, Wis (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Republican state lawmakers will try again to let youngsters with special needs go to private schools using tax-funded vouchers.

Four Republicans plan to introduce a new bill in both houses today. The sponsors are Senators Leah Vukmir and Alberta Darling, and Representatives John Jagler and Dean Knudson.

Vouchers for disabled youngsters were originally proposed a year ago as part of the state budget. Sponsors said it would have given parents more chances to find the correct school environment for their kids. But the idea was scrapped after critics said disabled youngsters would get fewer legal protections in private schools, since they don't have to follow the same federal disability laws as public schools.

Last year's budget proposal would have let five-percent of disabled Wisconsin students get tax funds for private schools. It was later rejected in favor of a larger-but-limited expansion of school-choice statewide.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the new bill most likely require that disabled students try to get proper placements in public schools outside their districts, before they can get private school vouchers.

Lisa Pugh of Disability Rights Wisconsin says the provision won't mean much. That's because public schools have limited seats for open enrollments, and even more limited resources for special-ed students.