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Parents of special needs students have transfer options

COVINGTON -- Parents and guardians of students who receive special education services in the Newton County School System have options to exercise public and private school choice.

Under a state law passed in 2007, those parents may choose to transfer their children to another public school or private school in Georgia, according to a letter sent to parents.

In order for students to qualify, the parent has to be a Georgia resident for at least one year and currently reside within the state, the student meets Georgia eligibility criteria for one or more disability areas and the student has spent the prior year at a Georgia public school with an Individual Education Program.

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. The parent would be responsible for transportation.

The parent may request a transfer to a school in another school system if there is available space and the school has a program with the services agreed to in the student's existing IEP. The school system must agree to accept the student. The parent would be responsible for transportation.

The parent may also request a transfer to one of the state schools for the deaf and/or blind operated by the state Board of Education. Acceptance into a state school will depend if that setting is appropriate for the student's needs. The parent also would be responsible for transportation to the state school.

Those interested in transferring to a private school in Georgia may be able to take advantage of a Georgia Special Needs Scholarship. These scholarships provide funding that can be used to offset tuition cost at participating private schools in the state.

Parents have until June 29 to request a transfer to another school for the fall semester and until Nov. 30 for the spring semester. When students change from elementary to middle school or middle to high school, parents must reapply for the school choice option.

More information on the scholarship and the parent application process is available on the Georgia Department of Education's website at public.doe.k12.ga.us.

Information and forms for public school choice are posted on the NCSS website, www.newtoncountyschools.org, or call the Special Education Department at 770-787-1330.