House Bill HB 60: The “Georgia Personalized Educational Plan Act”

The proposed House bill HB 60: will be a Scholarship ESA, voucher program under the  review of the Georgia Student finance Commission. The proposed voucher program would redirect funds from schools to the Voucher program.  

The bill would allow qualifying parents to choose this option by applying for the  education plan. The proposed bill calls for the Georgia student finance Commision to  establish certain requirements for the participating Schools and service providers  including developing testing measurements, rules and regulatory guidelines. 

At glance, this bill has some ramifications that must be Noted; especially for parents of individuals with disabilities. Parents need to be clear in what are the regulatory requirements for participating and what rights may be waiving for their children in choosing this option. 

Important points to Bill HB 60:  

The proposed Bill will redirect funds from participating students to the Voucher program. 

This will cause disproportionality in funding for Schools. Funds differ from state to state, and they are often extremely complex. Most commonly, the federal government contributes a portion of the total school budget. Funds are (primarily raised through local property taxes) and state contributions and sales taxes). The average amount of money provided per pupil varies greatly from one district to another. The method of distribution is based on variables such as student population, student demographics. Funding that is supplemental state and federal funds, marked for specific needs such as special education or compensatory services to schools with a  concentration of poverty, or to meet state-dictated priorities. This complexity often leads to significant variation from district to district in the percentage of funding received from federal, state, and local sources the diversion of funds will affect the wide disparities in the level of support for educational programs. 
the bill offers no assurances that students will receive an appropriate education in the private sector. Private schools are not held at the same state standards as public schools. Problems with fraud due to accountability measures is possible.

The bill assigns the Student finance Commission to oversee the program. The  commission will create an application process that will be open for a period of time for  students wanting to participate refer to section c 20-2B-5. 

It is important to note the bill has percentage allowed requirements for school districts in the number of students that will qualify periodically to participate. 

Code 20-2B-3 the bill would qualify students using the following:

-Parent or parents reside in the State of Georgia. 

-The student is part of a family whos income is below 200 % the Federal poverty Level,  and is enrolled in a Ga, public School. 

-The program includes children that have been in foster care and have been adopted  and enrooled in School imediately prior to adoption. 

– student has a IEP written in accordance to federal law. 

Students with a 504 plan, has a formal diagnosis from a licence physician or  psychologist. The bill outlines the conditions that would qualify. Refer to 20-2B-3 of  the bill. 

A student whose parent is active duty Military service members stationed in Georgia within the previous year.

School participation requirements will be outlined by the Georgia Student Finance  Commission

The guide lines outlined by the legislative proposal will allow private Schools to participate. the commission will qualify the School is the schools program complies  with the requirements allined by the commission. 

The bill outlines private school’s non-public, postsecondary institutions, a branch of the  Technical college system of Georgia, or independent private Colleges or universities. The commission proposes audits, and monitoring of funds appropriations, if students withdraw from chosen school, the school will have to refund funds to the commission. The  Georgia student finance commission will develop annual Testing for participating students. 

The commission would then required the parent to sign a binding agreement.

If parent chosses for student to participate; parent would be required to assume full  responsibility in assuring students receives the apropiate “Educational program.” -The parent promisses to provided education in a least the subjects of Mathematicts,  reading, grammar, social studies and science. 

-Parent will not enroll student in a local school system, local charter school, or state  charter school while participating in program. 

-To use funds only for qualifying educational expences for the participating students.  The commission will create a parent account that will be monitored, the proposes also  to audit participating accounts. 

-Parent will assume full finantial responsibility including trasportation to and from the  participating school or service provider.

-Students participating in the program will continue to be eligible to participate until returning to public school, graduating from High school, reaches the age of 20, special education students 21. 

Proceed with Caution! 

For parents of children with disabilities; it is important that parents understand the program. It is of most importance to note private schools do not have to abide  to the same regulatory Federal and state guidelines and expectations that public schools must follow. 

It will be the parent, private school”s responsibility to implement the appropriate  Educational plan, supports to provided education and services to students with disabilities. 

For participating students with a disability, acceptance of and account shall have the same effect as a parental refusal to consent to services. Individual with Disabilities Act 20 U.s.c Section 1400, et seq. 

This equals as parents refusing to accept services that emphasize special education and relate services designed to meet the unique needs of the individual and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living free appropriate public education and the supports needed to achieve it.  

This will affect the application of IDEA regulatory protections parents, children have in private schools in providing education for students with a disability. 

The parent also will be waiving important parental rights to educational accommodations. Under section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29  U.S.A Section 701, et seq.

Under section 504 the Child with a disability may receive accommodations and modifications that are not available to non-disabled children. All children with disabilities who receive special education and relate services under IDEA are entitled to these accommodations, modifications, and services. 

The bill does provide guidance in assuring the private schools employ or contract with quality educators that are certified it does not specify what certifications are required. The bill does specify a bachelor’s degree but in the same paragraph uses language such Or has experience teaching for a minimum of three years. The bill does offer the opportunity for parents to inquire in regards to the teacher credentials that would teach in the private school. 

Code 20- 2B-5 

What is covered under the program funds deposited on behalf of qualifying students and which can be used to cover educational expenses? Transportation no more than $500 a month  

Funds granted will equal the equivalent cost of the educational program that would have been provided to the student in the students Public School. Amounts will be calculated for fees for maintenance of the account, appropriate weights, and reductions,  adjustments Code 20-2-161 

Note: any extra cost will be responsibility of parent. 

Quarterly payments to the participant student. 

Payments will cover the tuition fees, needed textbooks at participating schools. Tuition fees for non-public online learning program. 

Payment for therapy such as speech, occupational and psychological services.

Summary

It is important to note the impact the program will have on the funding of public school systems. The diversion of funds will affect many areas. While the program provides an opportunity to participate to individuals that may see a private educational setting as a  better choice of a program that may accommodate the unique needs of a child. There are many areas of this bill that require further discussion. The cost of the program is projected at at cost $448 million per year and it would divert $45 million away from public schools the program offers no guarantees for the families and students specially for students with disabilities.

As noted in the outline of the program caution is suggested, for students with disabilities.  Participation in the program requires parents to waive some important protections and rights IDEA efforts to individuals with disabilities. 

To learn more detailed information included in Bill HB60 Georgia Scholarship Act;  including Status check Ga Legiscan.com 

This article is intended to provide information in the development of discussion in the current proposed bills affecting Education. 

Notice: 

(i)The opinions of this Document are not mean to be Advice/ the information is believed to be accurate and it has been provided for informational purposes only. (ii) Document may contain public information that is not exempt from disclosure

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