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Attorney general legal opinion clarifies school voucher benefits to children with disabilities

Low-income families with children who have disabilities can choose to continue receive special education services at public schools, Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a legal opinion Wednesday.

A parent or guardian need not accept both a voucher and a special education grant, Zoeller said, and can choose to continue receiving special education services for the student from a nearby public school.

"The legislative intent was to provide the parents of children with disabilities more choices, not fewer," Zoeller wrote in the non-binding opinion.

Under Indiana law, students who receive vouchers to attend a private school remain eligible for special education services from the public school, Zoeller said.

Private schools accepting vouchers are not required to accept children with disabilities and would likely refuse enrollment because they lack resources to implement service plans for those students or do not wish to comply with special education grant requirements, Zoeller said.

The legal opinion came at the request of the Indiana Department of Education and State Board of Education, Zoeller said. Officials had questions about whether a public school is required to provide special education and related services to a disabled student who receives a voucher.

Attorney general legal opinions are intended to help state officials with complicated issues.

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