Legislative Alert – Services for Students with Special Needs

Immediate Action Requested for Ohio HB440

(Home educated students with special needs are at risk of losing some of their services. Please consider contacting your Ohio State Representative and Ohio State Senator and ask for their support of House Bill (HB) 440.)




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 – other than services offered by 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.

Now certain remote services are being discontinued because the temporary provision in law has expired. 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 has been 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.

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 or both joint sponsors on this legislation to share your story.

  • State Representative Sarah Fowler Arthur:  rep99@ohiohouse.gov 
  • State Representative Beth Lear:  rep61@ohiohouse.gov 

If your child is currently receiving services under these scholarships, please share this alert with your child’s service providers.

We are including a link below 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. You will need to click on “Legislation Text – As Introduced”. https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/135/hb440/documents 

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

In His Service,
Melanie Elsey
CHEO Legislative Liaison