Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Georgia HB 251 Provides Public School Choices Within Local Systems

Excerpts from the Georgia Department of Education on the framework of HB 251:

Under a new law signed by Governor Perdue, parents of K-12 public school students in Georgia now have the option to enroll their child in any school within the local school district in which they now reside. The new law requires, among other things, that each school district establish a universal, streamlined process to manage such transfers by July 1, 2009.

This framework and the attached documents are provided to districts to help implement this process and to assist districts in determining whether current permissive school choice policies may satisfy the statutory requirements.

A. House Bill 251
The law itself has three distinct features:
-A parent/guardian can elect to send a child to another public school in the same school district as long as there is classroom space available at the school after its assigned students have been enrolled;
-If a parent elects to exercise this choice option, the parent assumes all costs associated with transporting the child to and from the selected school; and
-A student who transfers to another school pursuant to this law may, at his or her election, continue to attend such school until the student completes all grades of the school.
Note:
• Local school districts should create a prioritized list for student transfers consistent with Federal and State laws.

Students eligible for transfer under the unsafe school choice option (USCO) and students in Needs Improvement (NI) schools that must offer public school choice under No Child Left Behind, must get first priority for available seats at those schools in the district that are not in needs improvement.

If a parent requests a transfer to a school that does not have the services required by the current
Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Individualized Accommodation Plan (IAP), nothing in this framework requires the school to develop those services as long as they are available within the local school district.

Existing Georgia law already creates certain enrollment preferences. For instance, twins are given a statutory right to be enrolled in schools with their siblings, consistent with local policies. HB 251 should be construed in light of this and other existing law. As a result, districts may determine enrollment priorities, provided they do so in accordance with the provision of the HB 251.

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