May 12, 2011  
504 Students are Eligible for McKay Scholarships
Children Won!
   Thanks to the efforts of Representative Michael Bileca (R-Miami), Senator Steve Wise (R-Jacksonville), The Coalition of McKay Scholarship Schools and many other stakeholders, HB 1329 passed the Legislature and the bill is on its way to the Governor. 
   If Govenor Rick Scott signs the bill,  children who are on a 504 plan with a duration of more than six months, will be eligible for the McKay Scholarship beginning July 1.  This will give over 50,000 children with disabilities options to utilize the McKay Scholarship.
   The Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice is working to provide the computer portals for parents to submit their letters of intent to access the McKay Scholarship Program and to determine the level of funding for students on 504 plans.
Robyn A. Rennick,
Representative Michael Bileca,
and Dr. Patricia K. Hardman
     We need to let Governor Rick Scott know of the importance of this bill and the need to sign it immediately so parents can access the McKay Scholarship for next year.  Please send an email today to: 
Model Email:
Dear Governor Scott,
Please sign HB 1329 by Bileca/Wise which will allow children on a 504 Plan to access the McKay Scholarship.  This will give parents of children with disabilities more options in finding the right educational setting for them.  Please sign immediately so that parents can be told of this option and have the time to apply before next year.
Your name and address
Prepare to Get This Information Out to the Parents
   While the bill has not been signed into law yet, we are cautiously optimistic the Governor will sign.
   If the Governor signs the bill, it will become law on July 1, 2011.  Parents have to have their letter of intent in by July 3rd to be eligible for the September payment.  This is a very narrow window of time for parents to receive the information for next year. 
   Private schools MUST prepare to spread the good news. Parents who have children on 504 plans need to be informed of this opportunity.  It will take DOE months to begin the education process. Be ready to immediately place this information on your websites, broadcast on your Facebook pages, and use whatever avenues you have to get the word out.  We will keep you posted.
Thanks are Important!
   It is hard to believe that what started as a conversation with the board of The Coalition of McKay Scholarship Schools and Dr. Patricia Hardman, director of Dyslexia Research Institute, has become a reality.  Children with 504 plans HAVE become eligible for the McKay Scholarship.
   While The Coalition of McKay Scholarship Schools and Dyslexia Research Institute led the charge on Capitol Hill with many trips to Tallahassee by President Steve Hicks, Robyn Rennick and Patricia Hardman, many others joined to lend expertise and efforts to this mission.  Special thanks go to Marion Hammer for her support and behind-the-lines guidance.  We want to thank Patricia Levesque of Foundations for Florida’s Future and her assistance with the drafting of the bill and her public testimonies.  James Herzog of The Florida Catholic Conference stood shoulder-to- shoulder with us, championing the cause of parents and children on 504 plans.  Adam Emerson with Step Up for Students assisted with the early research concerning 504 Plans. 
   Of course, the legislative process could not have moved forward without the assistance of the legislators and their aides.  We want to thank Senator Wise who has stood by the McKay Scholarship and championed children with disabilities since the beginning of the scholarship program.  Representative Bileca, a freshman representative, carried the bill forward in the House and every time he spoke, he showed that he truly understood the issue and was committed to helping parents receive access to the McKay Scholarship.  Thank you to Alex Garcia and Dee Alexander, the assistants to the legislators who helped us through the process.
   Always, we want to thank former Senator John McKay for beginning this wonderful program and for his words of encouragement and support earlier in the session through the article in The Bradenton Herald.  His legacy to Florida’s children lives on and continues to grow.
   Final thanks go to all the school administrators, parents, and other individuals who called their representatives and senators and urged them to pass these bills.  Your voice was heard.
   We’d like to encourage you to check your Representative or Senator’s vote on the issue and then contact them with a thank-you if they voted for the bill.
The Coalition of McKay Scholarship Schools
(850) 893-2216