Children in Psychoeducational Institutions vs GA Department of Education
Dear Office of Civil Rights,
I am writing this complaint on behalf of all children in Psychoeducational institutions in the State of GA, including specifically the following children:
(not listed publicly for confidentiality reasons)
It has recently come to my attention that children in Psychoeducational institutions in the State of Georgia have been discriminated against in the SB10 Voucher Program process. The GA State Department of Education never disclosed to the public or media that children in Psychoeducational institutions would not be eligible for these scholarships, yet clearly publicized on their website and in the media that ALL children in the State of GA who met the following criteria published below on their website would in fact be qualified and eligible to participate:
Georgia Special Needs Scholarship
Georgia’s Special Needs Scholarship will allow parents of students with disabilities who were enrolled in the Georgia public schools (2006-2007) and have an active IEP to choose the educational setting—public or private—for their child.
Private School Choice
Created by the Georgia State Legislature in the 2007 Session, Georgia’s Special Needs Scholarship will provide Georgia students with disabilities the opportunity to attend an eligible participating private school beginning in the 2007-2008 school year.
Public School Choice
Georgia’s Special Needs Scholarship will also offer parents greater public school choice. A parent of a Georgia public school student with a disability who had an active Individualized Education Program (IEP) during the 2006-2007 school year may choose to transfer their child to another public school, public school system, or where applicable one of three State Schools for the Deaf and Blind. Please see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on this site for more details. A parent of a Georgia public school student with a disability who had an active Individualized Education Program (IEP) during the 2006-2007 school year may choose to transfer their child to another public school, public school system, or one of three State Schools for the Deaf and Blind where applicable. Please see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on this site for more details.
Exceptions to Scholarship Eligibility
- A home school operating under the provision of Code Section 20-2-690 is not eligible to enroll scholarship students.
- Residential treatment facilities licensed or approved by the state are not eligible to enroll scholarship students.
- Department of Juvenile Justice schools and students are not eligible for the scholarship.
- Students enrolled in private schools during the 2006-2007 school year.
Next Steps for Parents
Parents who file an intent form can expect to receive critical program communications from the GaDOE in the coming weeks and months. In June, parents will be informed about the process of determining the approximate amount of a child’s private school scholarship amount, which is based on the amount of state funding the public school system received for that child in the 2006-2007 school year. On July 13, the list of participating private schools will be published on this site.
In order for a student to receive a private school scholarship in the 2007-2008 school year, the following eligibility criteria must be met:
1. The student attended a Georgia Public School in grades K-12 in the 2006-2007 school year; and
2. The student was being served under an Individualized Education Program (IEP) before the end of the 2006-2007 school year; and
3. The student is enrolled and attending an eligible participating private school by no later than September 10, 2007.
Next Steps for Private Schools
Private schools that file an intent form can expect to receive critical program communications from the GaDOE in the coming weeks and months. Private schools must submit the private school application by June 30, 2007 if they want to participate in the program during the 2007-2008 school year. The State Board of Education will determine which private schools will be participating in the program during the 2007-2008 school at their July 12, 2007 meeting. GaDOE expects to publish the list of approved participating private schools on this website July 13.
- June 30 - The last day private schools may apply to participate for the 2007-2008 school year.
- July 13 - List of state approved eligible participating private schools published on this site.
- September 10 - Deadline for students to be enrolled and attending eligible participating private schools.
- September 14 - Deadline for participating private schools to upload scholarship student rosters to GaDOE.
As you can clearly see, there is no mention under the “Exceptions” above that children in Psychoeducational institutions would not be eligible. This was not recorded or ever mentioned to parents, psychoeducational institutions themselves, the media, in any public forums conducted by the GA DOE, disclosed on their website, or listed in the following letter to parents: http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/DMGetDocument.aspx/June%2030%20Parent%20Communique.pdf?p=6CC6799F8C1371F69B27D6D93A8ED0A87CE234462214CA9BBEE0795011C5036D&Type=D .
Under OCGA. 20-2-114, a child enrolled in a Psychoeducational institution for the 2006-2007 should qualify for a voucher for a private school under SB10.
(a) All children and youth who are eligible for a general and career education program under Code Section 20-2-151 and who have special educational needs shall also be eligible for special education services. Children from birth through four years of age, whose disabling condition is so severe as to necessitate early education intervention, may be eligible for special education services through programs operated by state schools for the handicapped, the psychoeducational program, or through programs financed with local or federal funds or with funds specifically appropriated by the General Assembly for this purpose. Eligible children and youth are defined as those who have emotional, physical, communicative, or intellectual deviations, or a combination thereof, to the degree that there is interference with school achievements or adjustments or prevention of full academic attainment and who require modifications or alterations in their educational programs. Special education shall include children who are classified as intellectually gifted, mentally disabled, behavior disordered, specific learning disabled, orthopedically disabled, other health impaired, hearing impaired, speech-language disordered, visually impaired, severely emotionally disturbed, and deaf-blind and who have any other areas of special needs which may be identified. The State Board of Education shall adopt classification criteria for each area of special education to be served on a state-wide basis. The state board shall adopt the criteria used to determine eligibility of students for state funded special education programs. The state board shall adopt maximum class sizes by classification of special education pursuant to subsection (i) of Code Section 20-2-182 which are equal to or greater than the class sizes used to develop the program weights as set forth in subsection (b) of Code Section 20-2-161.
(a.1) The criteria adopted by the state board to determine the eligibility of students for state funded special education programs for the intellectually gifted, Category VI pursuant to paragraph (6) of subsection (d) of this Code section, shall authorize local boards of education to use:
(1) The criteria used on July 1, 1993, as amended by state board or state department regulation from time to time; and
(2) Multiple eligibility criteria which include:
(A) Evidence of student work product or performance;
(B) Data from teacher, parent, or peer observation; and
(C) Evidence of student performance on nationally normed standardized tests of mental ability, achievement, and creativity.
A student's eligibility may be determined under either paragraph (1) or (2) of this subsection. The multiple eligibility criteria shall be implemented as appropriate staff development is completed, but not later than August 1, 1998. A student who has been determined before July 1, 1994, to be eligible for state funded special education programs for the intellectually gifted shall not be required to satisfy any additional eligibility criteria or information documentation as a result of this subsection.
(b) Local school systems shall, subject to any limitations specified in this Code section, provide special education programs for all eligible students with special needs who are residents of their local school systems, either by establishing and maintaining such educational facilities and employing such professional workers as are needed by these students or by contracting with other local school systems, regional educational service agencies, or other qualified public or private institutions for such services.
(c)(1) The State Board of Education shall provide for the funding which has been approved by the General Assembly for this purpose for special education programs for students with disabling conditions which are either of such low incidence or of such severity that it is unfeasible or impractical to provide needed educational services through programs offered by local school systems. The state board may provide such educational services with funds specifically approved by the General Assembly for this purpose by:
(A) Providing grants directly to regional educational service agencies for provision of services;
(B) Either directly contracting with or making grants to or authorizing local units of administration to contract with or make grants to suitable private or public institutions, inside or outside this state, for the provision of such services; provided, however, that the educational and related services of the child must be provided by professionals, such as teachers, school psychologists, speech therapists, physical and occupational therapists, and audiologists who meet the certification or licensing standards of their profession in the state in which the institution is located;
(C) Authorizing local units of administration to contract with suitable public agencies and departments, including institutions in which eligible children are confined and out-patient centers serving eligible children, inside and outside this state, for the provision of such services;
(D) Entering into reciprocal agreements with other states or political subdivisions thereof for the provision of such services; or
(E) Operating the Georgia School for the Deaf, the Georgia Academy for the Blind, the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf, and other special schools as approved by the General Assembly.
(2) The state board may promulgate rules, regulations, and standards and establish the terms and conditions governing the provision of state aid provided for this purpose by the General Assembly under this subsection and perform any and all acts necessary or proper to carry out the provisions, intent, and purpose of this subsection.
(d) For purposes of funding under this article, the following special education categories are authorized for the local units of administration of this state:
(1) Category I: self-contained specific learning disabled and self-contained speech-language disordered;
(2) Category II: mildly mentally disabled;
(3) Category III: behavior disordered, moderately mentally disabled, severely mentally disabled, resourced specific learning disabled, resourced speech-language disordered, self-contained hearing impaired and deaf, self-contained orthopedically disabled, and self-contained other health impaired;
(4) Category IV: deaf-blind, profoundly mentally disabled, visually impaired and blind, resourced hearing impaired and deaf, resourced orthopedically disabled, and resourced other health impaired;
(5) Category V: those special education students classified as being in Categories I through IV, as defined in this subsection whose Individualized Educational Programs specify specially designed instruction or supplementary aids or services in alternative placements, in the least restrictive environment, including the regular classroom and who receive such services from personnel such as paraprofessionals, interpreters, job coaches, and other assistive personnel; and
(6) Category VI: intellectually gifted.
(a) Each regional educational service agency shall provide the following shared services to member local school systems:
(1) Identifying or conducting research related to educational improvements and in planning for the implementation of such improvements;
(2) Developing and implementing staff development programs with an emphasis on improving student achievement and school accountability;
(3) Developing and implementing curricula and instruction of the highest quality possible, including implementing the uniformly sequenced core curriculum adopted by the state board;
(4) Developing and implementing academic assessment and evaluation programs;
(5) Identifying and utilizing electronic technology, including computers, in an effort to improve the quality of classroom instruction as well as classroom, school, and school system management;
(6) Developing programs, resource materials, and staff development services relating to instruction on alcohol and drug abuse; and
(7) Assistance in the development and implementation of a state-wide mentoring program.
The shared services may also include assistance designed to address documented local needs pursuant to subsection (d) of Code Section 20-2-272.
(b) The state board shall make the service areas for the Georgia Learning Resources System congruous with the service areas for the RESA's. The RESA's are designated as the fiscal agents for the agency of the Georgia Learning Resources System or a local board of education as identified by the State Board of Education through an annual contract to serve as fiscal agent for the Georgia Learning Resources System. All member local school systems shall be provided the services of the Georgia Learning Resources System.
(c) The Psychoeducational Network for severely emotionally disturbed students shall be continued in effect. The service areas of units of the Psychoeducational Network for severely emotionally disturbed students in place on January 1, 1995, shall be continued in effect. The fiscal agent for each service area shall be as in effect on January 1, 1995, unless changed as provided in this subsection. Upon the request of a majority of the local school superintendents of the local school systems within a service area, representatives of each of the local school systems in the respective service area shall vote in the manner and at the time prescribed by the state board to determine if one of the local school systems or the regional educational service agency serving the respective service area shall serve as the fiscal agent for the respective unit of the Psychoeducational Network for the ensuing fiscal year. In the event this vote results in a change in the fiscal agent for the respective unit, the new fiscal agent shall continue in this capacity for a minimum of three fiscal years. In the event a regional educational service agency is designated as the fiscal agent for a service area, all member local school systems shall be provided the services of the Psychoeducational Network.
Parents of children in Psychoeducational institutions are now being told that Psychoeducational institutions are not eligible for funding through the SB10 voucher process. Please investigate this allegation of discrimination by the GA Department of Education on students with clearly defined disabilities and recorded IEP’s in Psychoeducational institutions in the state of GA.
Advocacy & Consulting Services - IEPadvocate4you
Carol Sadler, Special Education Consultant/Advocate
GA Advocacy Office PLSP I Graduate
1105 Rock Pointe Look
Woodstock, GA 30188