GA Special Needs Scholarship Program

Parental Right to Choice
Under the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship (GSNS) law passed in 2007 (O.C.G.A. § 20-2-2113), parent(s)/guardian(s) whose child meets the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship eligibility criteria now have the right to request a public school transfer to:
  • Another public school within their district of residence; or
  • Another public school system outside their district of residence; or
  • To one of the three state schools for the blind or deaf (Only students with the primary exceptionality of visual and/or individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may request a transfer to a State School).
The authority to allow or deny transfer requests belongs to a school system. School systems can create their own forms and set deadlines for transfer requests. Parents/guardians must contact a school system directly regarding the process the school system uses for public school transfer requests available through the GSNS Program. A parent can link to any school system from the Georgia Department of Education’s home page at
This form is provided for parents/guardians whose school system does not provide a form for school choice available through the GSNS Program. It must be completed and sent directly to the school system you want your child to attend. Do not send it to the Georgia Department of Education. A parent/guardian should contact a school system’s office to find out to whom the form should be sent and any deadlines involved in making the request. Only a school system has the authority to approve or deny a public school transfer request.
2020 – 2021 Georgia Special Needs Student Scholarship Eligibility Criteria
In order to qualify for the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program a student must meet the following requirements:
  • Student Eligibility Criteria 1- A student have must a parent/guardian who currently lives in Georgia and has been a resident for at least one calendar year.
  • Student Eligibility Criteria 2- A student was enrolled and completed the 2019 – 2020 school year in a Georgia public school in grades kindergarten through twelfth.
  • Student Eligibility Criteria 3- A student was reported attending a Georgia public school by a school district(s) during mandatory student counts conducted in October 2019 and March 2020.
  • Student Eligibility Criteria 4 - A student does not need to have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for the entire school year to qualify for the GSNS Program. A student must have received special education services at some point during the 2019 – 2020 school year through an IEP. A student must be reported by a school district(s) in either the October 2019 OR March 2020 student counts OR in final student record as a student receiving special education services by the end of the 2019 – 2020 school year.
Note: If a student attended a private school through the Special Needs Scholarship Program during the 2019- 2020 school year, a parent/guardian is eligible for public school choice options for the 2020 – 2021 school year.
TRANSFERS WITHIN A SCHOOL SYSTEM (e.g. transfer from one public school in a county to another in the same county)
A school system reviewing a transfer request must evaluate the request based on availability of space and/or the availability of a special education program at the requested public school that can meet the services outlined in a student’s IEP. If there is no space available and/or if the public school requested by a parent/guardian cannot provide the special education services outlined in a student’s IEP, then the school system can deny the transfer request.
TRANSFERS OUTSIDE OF A SCHOOL SYSTEM (e.g. transfer from a public school in Cobb County to a public school in Cherokee County)
A school system reviewing a transfer request to its school system from another school system can deny a request for any reason even if there is space and the availability of a special education program at a requested public school. Note: It is allowable for a school system to have a policy not to accept students that reside outside of the school system.
If a school system approves an out of system transfer request, it can charge a parent/guardian for the costs of educating a student; also known as out of district tuition. Funds received through the GSNS Program cannot be used to offset the costs of out of district tuition.
If a transfer request is granted by a school system, the student must be allowed to complete all grades at a school. For example, if a student is granted a transfer request to a middle school that serves grades 6 - 8, the transfer request would apply to the student’s attendance through grade 8. The parent would need to file another transfer request if the parent wished to send the student to a different high school.

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