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North Carolina Empowers Families of Children with Special Needs

Posted on Friday July 01, 2011 | NC

Tax Credit Legislation - Estimated to Benefit 10,000 Families - Became Law This Morning

With the support of 65 percent of Democrats in the legislature, North Carolina this morning enacted a new, $6,000 tax credit benefiting families of children with disabilities.

Governor Beverly Perdue refused to sign or veto the legislation (House Bill 344), allowing it to become law without her signature.

Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina said today that 10,000 families are expected to benefit from the program, out of a pool of 200,000 children who receive special education services.

North Carolina becomes the eighth state to enact a private school choice program for children with special needs. Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah also offer programs—benefiting more than 26,000 children in the 2010-2011 school year.

The American Federation for Children and the Alliance for School Choice—which have worked closely with PEFNC on public education and advocacy over the past several years—hailed passage of the new law as an important first step toward empowering children with enhanced educational options.

"Thanks to the steadfast leadership of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina and their army of parent activists, families in the Tar Heel State now have their first opportunity to explore a new educational option," said Betsy DeVos, chairman of the American Federation for Children and the Alliance for School Choice. "As a result of their tenacity and persistence, thousands of families with special needs children in North Carolina will now have the ability to choose the best schools for their children—public or private."

"Today's victory sends a clear message to the thousands of families who contacted their legislators in support of this tax credit—and to the tens of thousands of families who've rallied for school choice over the past several years," said Darrell Allison, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina. "The voices of these families have been heard, loud and clear. With strong Republican support, primarily led by House Majority Leader Paul Stam, coupled with the support of 65 percent of Democrats, North Carolina is now a much more welcoming and compassionate state to families of children with disabilities."

In addition to significant bipartisan support, the program also enjoys the support of Tar Heel State residents. According to a PEFNC poll, 82 percent of Democratic voters supported the creation of the program.