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Scholarship app for special needs due on Monday

COVINGTON - Parents of special needs students in the Newton County School System have until Monday to apply for a Georgia Special Needs Scholarship or to apply for attendance at another school.

As a result of Senate Bill 10, parents and guardians of certain students who receive special education services can have their children attend a Georgia public or private school of their choice, as long as there is space available, with the help of the scholarship to offset tuition.

The deadline for Newton County School System parents to request their child attend another school in the district for the first semester of the 2008-09 school year is by the end of the day Monday. The parents can get applications on the NCSS Web site, www.newtoncountyschools.org, or from the system's special education department at the Newton County Board of Education office, located at 2109 Newton Dr. NE in Covington, where they also will deliver the application.

Students who qualify for the scholarship are those with parents/guardians who have been a Georgia resident for at least one year and currently live in the state; the student, age 3 through 21, also must be eligible for one or more of the disability areas and has spent a year at a Georgia public school under an Individual Educational Program, said Cathy Stubbs, NCSS special education director, in a letter to parents.

"A parent can request a transfer to another public school within their school system as long as there is available space at that school and the school has a program with the services agreed to in the student's existing IEP," Stubbs said in the letter. "The parent may request a transfer to a school in another school system if there is available space and the system and the school has a program. A school system must agree to accept the student."

She said the parent also may request a transfer to a state school for the deaf and/or blind or a private school.

The parents must provide transportation for their child to attend a school out of their assigned attendance area and must reapply for the school choice option each time the student changes from elementary to middle to high school.

Linda Berry, NCSS special education secretary, said the department will notify parents who apply for the scholarship by the beginning of the school year, Aug. 1.

NCSS parents have until Dec. 1 to submit an application for the second semester of the 2008-09 school year.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.