Lawsuit attempts to block expanded school voucher program

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Florida Education Association filed a lawsuit Wednesday, along with a Lee County social studies teacher, to block the expansion of an expanded private school voucher program. The legal challenge aims to have a court declare that SB 850 is unconstitutional. It expands the school voucher program and creates new scholarships for children with disabilities.

The bill passed on the final day of the 2014 session. The lawsuit claims the broad bill contains pieces of unrelated legislation which is prohibited under the Florida constitution. But parents who stand to benefit from the new law hope the lawsuit doesn't go far.

"I think that this bill could really benefit a lot of children who have special needs," said Melissa Ward who testified at the Capitol in support of a portion of the bill that could help her son who has cerebral palsy.

"Ethan struggles with balance and walking," said Ward. "And he needs physical therapy for that."

Born three months early at one pound six ounces, little Ethan has come a long way.

"The idea that there would be something that could help us better afford the things that he needs is really exciting," said Ward.

The new law provides a program that allows students with certain disabilities access to state dollars for tutoring, educational materials and therapeutic services.

Something Ward who chooses to home-school her child, says she can't always afford.

"We get bills that equal a car payment every month," said Ward. "We have tended to focus on what are the most important thing he needs right now."

She's unsure of exactly how things will work under the new law. But she says this new opportunity gives her new found hope.

For a look at the lawsuit filed click here.

Applications will be accepted beginning Friday for The Florida Personal leaning scholarship Account.

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