Legislative Alert – May 21, 2024

Immediate Action Needed for Ohio HB440


This is a state policy that affects special needs students who are home educated or enrolled in private schools. Some remote (telehealth) services are no longer available under the Jon Peterson and Autism Scholarships. This especially affects families who live in more rural areas and don’t have access to services locally. It is important that all of us step forward and communicate with our legislators on behalf of these families.


The FIRST hearing was TODAY, May 21, for sponsor testimony. This was an opportunity for the bill sponsors to explain the need for the legislation to the Ohio House Primary and Secondary Education Committee. This is not a hearing for the public to provide testimony. That will come later.

Ohio House Education Committee
May 21, 2024 – 3:00pm
Watch live at ohiochannel.org

If you miss the live broadcast, you may watch the archived video at the same link. Because the sponsor testimony is being provided this week, it is a great opportunity to call or email your elected representative in the Ohio House of Representatives. If you have already contacted your legislator earlier this year, now is a perfect time to reconnect and let your voice be heard… again. 

Please see the suggested action below.




Ohio has offered scholarship programs for students with disabilities for many years. These scholarships are available to students with disabilities who are seeking to receive education and special services outlined in their IEP – services offered through private providers (not through the public school district of residence).

These are important resources for home educating families with children who have special needs, but are just as important for students enrolled in nonpublic schools as well. Ohio’s Autism Scholarship was initiated in 2003 and the Jon Peterson Scholarship for Special Needs Services became available in 2011.

Families who qualify for these scholarships have been able to use them to pay for tutoring, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech-language therapy, behavioral counseling, intervention services, and other educational / therapeutic services. All of these services are provided by state licensed or certified professionals through nonpublic schools or private providers.

During the pandemic, legislation was passed that included an uncodified (temporary) provision, which allowed for these services to be provided remotely. (SB 229, sec.3, paragraph H, p. 46 – 134th General Assembly)

This was incredibly helpful to students who did not have access to services locally or had medically fragile conditions that made it prohibitive to travel. Sometimes in a given area, there is a shortage of certain services as well, so this has been a tremendous blessing for many families. But now, certain remote services are being discontinued because the temporary provision in law has expired.


The Solution:

• There is a section of permanent law (RC 4743.09) that already allows for some remote services. We are seeking to expand this section to include any service prescribed in the student’s IEP.

• We are also seeking to have language clarified to include literacy intervention specialists in the list of who may be registered as providers under these scholarship programs.

HB 440 is introduced by joint sponsors – State Representatives Sarah Fowler Arthur and Beth Lear.






Please contact your own state representative and state senator.

Ask him/her to support HB 440 – as it is a solution to an immediate problem that will affect the continuation of some services to students with disabilities who are recipients of the Autism or Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarships. Here is the link to find the contact information for your state representative and state senator. https://www.legislature.ohio.gov


If your family will be affected by the discontinuation of services, please contact either one or both of the joint sponsors to share your story. Also, if your child is currently receiving services under these scholarships, please share this alert with your child’s service providers.


For more information:

Here is a link to the full text of the bill. It is 13 pages in length, but only the underlined language is proposed as new law. These sections may be found on pages 4, 9, 11, and 12. Click on Legislation Text – As Introduced


If you have questions or need additional information please feel free to email us at cheo@cheohome.org