Every student attending school in Oconee County must enroll in the school to which he/she is assigned according to his/her educational program and the attendance zone in which he/she resides. Parents or guardians must provide reasonable proof of residency of all students seeking admission to Oconee County schools. In general, a student's residence is determined as follows:
- A student is considered to be a resident of the attendance zone in which the parent(s) or guardian lives.
- If the parents are divorced or legally separated, the student is considered to reside in the attendance zone where the parent having actual physical custody resides. In the case of joint physical custody, the student may attend school in the zone where either parent physically resides as long as the student is living with that parent.
- If a student is eligible for more than one attendance zone, the parent must declare the attendance zone for the school year. Should a change in the attendance zone be requested during the school year, it must be approved through the Office of Student Services. Parents/guardians should understand that students entering the ninth grade or higher, fall under the eligibility rules governed by the Georgia High School Athletic Association. Once they enter ninth grade, students may lose eligibility to participate in GHSA sanctioned events should they transfer schools. Persons considering a change request should consult with the athletic director at their student's school prior to requesting a transfer.
- A student who is living with an adult other than a legal parent may establish residency with that person only if that person obtains legal guardianship (permanent or temporary) except in the case of a grandparent with a notarized power of attorney properly executed by a parent in accordance with O.C.G.A. §§ 19-9-122 through 123, where a grandparent may enroll a child if a hardship prevents the parent from caring for the child.
Exceptions to student assignments will be made on a case-by-case basis.
Parent(s) or guardian(s) who wish to appeal the school assignment of a student must submit an Application for Student Transfer. The transfer form may be obtained from the central office, from any principal and is available on-line as an exhibit of this policy/regulation. The Superintendent will designate a person to consider school assignment appeals and to make recommendations to the Superintendent concerning those appeals.
The following procedures shall apply in the consideration of student transfers:
- The Application for Student Transfer must be completed and returned to the Office of Student Services.
- Parents or guardians are responsible for making transportation arrangements for students attending a school not in their attendance zone due to attendance zone waivers.
- Any consideration for transfer must take into consideration the space availability and program availability in the school being requested.
- False information will void the application.
- Under the laws of Georgia, school system employees residing outside Oconee County may have their children attend schools within the county in which they work; however, tuition must be paid at the rate determined each school year.
Random visits by school officials may be conducted in order to validate residency. Any reports of students being out of zone or out of county will be investigated by the designated staff.
Provisions Under HB 251 (Public School Choice)
Under this legislation, parents have the right to request a transfer from one school to another within the district based on the following rules:
- The requested school has classroom space available at the school after its assigned students have been enrolled.
- The parent/guardian assumes full responsibility and cost for the transportation of his/her child to/from the requested school.
- The student who transfers may remain at that school until all grades at that school have been completed.
Classroom Capacity is based on the following criteria within Oconee County Schools, which follows the state regulations of basing decisions on health and safety provisions and on class-size capacity by grade and subject as mandated by State law.
Permanent Classroom Space in each school is based on the number of regular classroom teachers assigned to that school in a given academic year. This space is not based on the use of or availability of portable classrooms.
- Multiply the number of regular classroom teachers at each grade level by the number that the state allows in those classrooms
- Take the number from #1 and add 10 students for growth
- Take the number from #2 and subtract the actual enrollment
- The balance left indicates the total number of available spots per grade
- Special needs students may have an impact on the slots available
- Each middle school will look at its enrollment within the four core academic areas to see how many student slots are available. Core areas are used since all students are required to take a class in these academic areas each year.
- Once a determination is made on the number of slots available in each core academic area, the academic area with the least number of slots available will be used as the guideline for student transfers.
- Middle schools will take the core class decided on in #3 and add 15 students for growth to each grade. This number will then be subtracted from the total enrollment in that core area per grade in order to determine the number of available slots for that particular grade.
- Middle school growth is also based on a 5% growth rate which includes new students and transfers during the school year. This number is set annually; this year the number is 45 students.
In middle schools, the system will look at growth patterns at the elementary school levels to see if larger numbers of students are moving up, which may present a need to increase growth projections for future years.
- Each high school will look at its enrollment in the four core academic areas to see how many student slots are available. Core areas are used since all students are required to take a class in these academic areas each year.
- Once a determination is made of the number of slots available in each core academic area, the academic area with the least number of slots available will be used as the guideline for student transfers.
- High schools will take the core class decided on in #2 and add 15 students for growth to each grade. This number will then be subtracted from the total enrollment in that core area per grade in order to determine the number of available slots for that particular grade.
- High school growth is also based on a 5% growth rate which includes new students and transfers during the school year. This number is set annually; this year the number is 60 students.
In high schools, the system will look at growth patterns at the middle school levels to see if larger numbers of students are moving up, which may present a need to increase growth projections for future years.
Other Items of Interest in Regards to this New Legislation
- 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” status.
- If a parent requests a transfer to a school that does not have the services required by the student’s current Individualized Educational 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 system.
- School system employees will be given priority in the transfer of their child(ren), but must also complete the required form. This includes employees residing outside Oconee County and paying tuition as stipulated by Georgia law.
- If a family has more than one child that they are requesting to be transferred to the same school and one of those children is selected to move, then all siblings in that family have priority to move to that school provided that there is available space in their grade level(s).
- Parents/Guardians must keep in mind that any high school student electing to transfer under this law shall be subject to eligibility requirements of the Georgia High School Association. Check with your current principal or athletic director if you are unsure of these requirements.
- Transfer requests do not apply to charter schools, newly opened schools (for a four year period), schools investing in IE2 partnerships or to districts with only one school at each level of education.
Apportioning Available Seats
In the event a particular school has available space and the number of transfer requests exceeds the available capacity, (after students given priority have been placed) the school system will conduct a random lottery for those remaining seats which gives each interested student an equal chance to receive the transfer.
Once a student transfer has been granted, that student may, at his or her election, continue to attend the requested school until the student completes all grades of the school. However, a transferring student who completes all grades available at the receiving school does not automatically receive enrollment preferences to the feeder school. At the end of each level of education (elementary and middle), the parent has to make application for a transfer if the requested school is different from the zoned school. If there is available space, then the application can be considered. If there is not available space, then the student must attend his/her zoned school.
Provisions Under SB 10 (Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Act)
Under this legislation, parents are given four options for student placement.
- Parents may choose for their student to attend another public school within the resident school system that has available space and services specified in the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
- Parents are allowed to enroll in and transport the student to a public school outside the student’s resident system that has available space and a program with services as specified in the IEP.
- Parents may choose for their student to attend one of the state schools for the deaf and blind operated by the State Board, if appropriate for the student’s needs.
- Parents may request and receive from the State Department of Education a scholarship for the student to attend a participating private school, as defined in the Act.
Parents seeking a transfer under one of these options should request and complete the Application for Student Transfer form and send it to the Office of Student Services. The form will be forwarded to the Director of Special Services for special services placement determination.