School Choice for ESE Students

John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program 

The John M. McKay Scholarship for Students with Disabilities Program, commonly known as the McKay Scholarship Program, offers parents of students with disabilities the opportunity to make informed choices about the best academic environment for their children. To be eligible for a McKay Scholarship, students with disabilities must have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Accommodation Plan (for more than six months), and must have been enrolled and reported for funding by a Florida school district the year (two FTE periods) prior to applying for a scholarship. Students in military families from other states or countries may also be eligible. Parents have the option of choosing another public school or applying for a scholarship for their child to attend an eligible private school.

Gardiner Scholarship 

The Gardiner Scholarship is different than other state scholarships in that it provides parents the opportunity to create a truly customized educational program for their child. The Gardiner Scholarship is open to Florida students in kindergarten through 12th grade with one of the following disabilities: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Prader-Willi Syndrome, Spina Bifida, William’s Syndrome or Intellectual Disability (significant cognitive impairment). Also, kindergarten students deemed “high risk” because of developmental delays may be eligible. Students must have either an Individual Education Plan (IEP) from a Florida school district or a formal diagnosis from a licensed physician or psychologist. Students entering kindergarten must be 5 on or before Sept 1. Students entering first grade must be 6 on or before Sept 1. Students can participate in the Gardiner Scholarship as part of home education; however, they cannot be enrolled in a public school or be receiving any other state sponsored scholarship. Note: Deadlines for filing a parental intent and private school enrollment are statutory deadlines; therefore, exceptions cannot be made if the deadlines are missed. Failure to complete attendance verification will result in postponement of scholarship payments until the next scheduled payment period.

Parental Intent Deadline Dates: July 3rd, September 2nd, December 3rd, and January 31st.

For additional information, please visit: FLDOE K-12 Scholarship Programs