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Parents decry special-needs vouchers

Dozens of parents converged on the State Capitol Feb. 19 to protest Governor Scott Walker's plan to let special needs' children attend private schools with tax-funded vouchers.

Kimberly Nerone of Wauwatosa said public schools need to improve their already-strong programs for kids with disabilities - and not quote, "chip away at them" by sending youngsters away from those programs.

Melissa Stoltz of Beloit predicted that vouchers would be given to kids with milder disabilities that are more easily accommodated - and that would leave the public schools with more severely-disabled youngsters, and less funding to help them with therapists and special-ed teachers.

The Republican Walker announced his special needs voucher plan over the weekend - and by Monday, a group had already been formed called "Stop Special Needs Vouchers." Stoltz also warned that families who take the private vouchers would give up their parental and student rights guaranteed for public school students under the federal disabilities' education act.

Walker plans to propose the special needs vouchers as part of the next two-year state budget he'll submit to lawmakers tomorrow.