Parents of developmentally disabled children could send their children to private schools under two bills being considered by a Senate committee.

Autism was the main focus of a packed hearing in the Senate Lounge of the Capitol, but the two Senate bills are much broader. They would include all developmentally disabled children.

St. Louis Teachers Union President Mary Armstrong objects to considering voucher and scholarship bills when the state hasn’t fully funded the school Foundation Formula. Armstrong told Senators she’s very concerned about the bills taking money away from the school district.

"We will be assisting a small number of students," Armstrong testified, "But we will leave a majority of students behind."

 Yet, parents of autistic children say their children are being left behind in public schools.

Shari Kaminsky of Kirkwood says her profoundly autistic child couldn’t learn in public schools, but did in a private one.

"My 12-year-old now is learning to read," Kaminsky told the committee.

Both bills would provide funding to transfer a developmentally disabled child to either another public school or a private one. One, SB770 , would allow state funding to follow the child to the school of his parent’s choice. The other, SB993 , would establish tax credits to create a scholarship program. The scholarships would pay for private schooling.

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