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Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program

Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program

The Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program, a school voucher program, was enacted and launched in 2007 to help students with special needs access schools that best fit their needs. Learn more about the program’s details on this page, including eligibility, funding, regulations, legal history and more.

Program Fast Facts

  • One of 15 school choice programs exclusively serving students with special needs nationwide

  • 3,811 participating students (2014–15)

  • 11 percent of students eligible statewide

  • 220 participating schools (2014–15)

  • Average account value: $5,396 (2014–15)

  • Value as a percentage of public school per-student spending: 61 percent

Program Details

Georgia’s Special Needs Scholarship Program Participation

Students Participating
School Year Ending

Click the + symbols to learn more about this program’s details.

The Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program allows any student with a disability whose parents are unhappy with their assigned public school to receive a voucher to attend private school.

Student Funding

Vouchers are worth up to the cost of the educational program a student would have received in public school, as calculated by existing state funding formulas. It excludes only such things as capital costs and federal subsidy programs. The voucher may not exceed the private school’s tuition and fees.

Student Eligibility

To qualify, a student must have been enrolled in a Georgia public school for the entire prior school year. Preschool programs do not count toward that factor. The student must also have received special education services under an Individualized Education Plan at any point in that year. The student’s parent or guardian must live in the state currently and have been a resident for at least one year.

EdChoice Expert Feedback

Georgia’s only voucher program receives strong marks for its funding levels and school requirements. Funding levels are up to the child’s funding in his or her public school. The only school regulations are that participating private schools have a physical location in Georgia, demonstrate fiscal soundness and follow nondiscrimination, health and safety laws along with Georgia’s other regulations applying to private schools. Schools also must report to parents on students’ academic progress. Where the program could grow is on student eligibility, which is limited to students with special needs who attended public school the previous year. A child with special needs should be eligible for a scholarship in kindergarten or the first year of formal education. Requiring a child to attend their resident public schools when the child’s special needs might be best satisfied in a different school is a disservice to the child. Also, other underserved Georgia students, no doubt, could benefit from a broader program.

Rules and Regulations

  • Income Limit: None
  • Prior Year Public School Requirement: Yes
  • Geographic Limit: Statewide
  • Enrollment Cap: None
  • Voucher Cap: Conditional
  • Testing Mandates: None
  • *Limited to students with special needs

 

School Requirements:

  • Notify state regarding intention to participate
  • Demonstrate financial viability
  • Comply with federal nondiscrimination requirements of 42 U.S.C. s 2000d
  • Comply with state health and safety requirements
  • Be accredited or in the process of becoming accredited
  • Teachers must have a bachelor’s degree or three years’ experience in education or health
  • Provide parents with teachers’ credentials
  • Report to parents and state regarding students’ academic progress

Governing Statutes

O.C.G.A. §§ 20-2-2110 through 20-2-2118

Legal History

No legal challenges have been filed against the program.

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