Habersham Board Of Education Makes Changes To Three Policies

CLARKESVILLE - The Habersham County Board of Education voted unanimously in favor of three policy changes Monday night.  With no public objection over the past two months, the board moved forward with the vote, with all present members voting in favor of all three changes.

The change in policy JBC: School Admissions reads as follows in paragraph 5: 

An adult who resides in the school district, and to whom the parent has delegated caregiving authority, and who is the child’s grandparent, great-grandparent, step-grandparent, stepparent, former stepparent, aunt or great aunt, uncle or great uncle, cousin or sibling,  or a non-relative who is approved by as an agent by a child-placing agency or a nonprofit entity or faith based organization, may enroll such child and have the rights, duties, and responsibilities that would otherwise be exercised by the parent under state law, except that the delegating parent shall continue to have the right to receive the child’s educational records. The enrolling adult must present a properly executed Form for Power of Attorney to Delegate the Power and Authority for the Care of a Child signed under oath before a notary public by the parent and the agent accepting such delegation and filed in the probate court of the county in which the child resides. Such powers of attorney may be granted for a period not to exceed one year, except that those granted to grandparents may have unlimited duration and those granted by military parents may not exceed the period of deployment plus thirty days. 

The change in policy JBCCA: Student Assignment to Schools is a complete rewrite and reads as follows:

School attendance zone lines are established and modified by the board of education as schools are added, as rezoning occurs, and from time to time in order to reduce overcrowding, provide an adequate and efficient transportation system, maximize the use of system resources, enhance the instructional program, and provide equity in assigning students to schools. Students are thus required to attend the school within the established attendance zone in which they reside, unless an exception is granted under this policy.

Residence

A student’s residence for purposes of this policy is defined as being the primary home where his or her parents live or the primary home of any other person who has been awarded legal custody or control of such student. This would include natural or adopted parents, legal guardians or other persons awarded custody or guardianship by a court, foster parents appointed by a state agency, or a sponsor for any approved international exchange program [hereafter collectively referred to as parents]. Parents are responsible for notifying the school of any change in residence within 30 days of the change.

Proof of Residence

A student must be an occupant of a dwelling located within the boundaries of Habersham County in order to enroll in the Habersham County School District. Proof of residence within the boundaries of Habersham County shall be required for students enrolling in the school district for the first time, when a change of residence occurs, and annually upon the start of the new school year, unless that student qualifies as a homeless student under the provisions of policy JBC(1).   The Superintendent shall establish the criteria for verification of residency in Habersham County. If the parents and student are residing in the home of other individuals, an Affidavit of Residency must be completed and signed by the individual with whom the parent and student are residing, along with proof of residence for that individual. If this residence is an apartment, the apartment manager may be required as a witness to the affidavit or statement. When a student’s parents claim to live in multiple residences, the student shall attend school in the attendance district of the primary home of the family.

Court Orders

As additional proof of residence under the terms of this policy, a copy of a court order establishing custody or guardianship may be required.

Admission Where There is No Legal Custodian

Residence for school attendance purposes may be approved when a student is living with an adult who has and is willing to assume parental responsibilities although a specific court order has not been obtained where it appears that the student and the adult with whom the student is living reside in the attendance zone and that the student is there for reasons other than primarily to attend school. Examples would include where a student has been abandoned, orphaned or is homeless.

Admission of Students Under 18 Who Do Not Live with Parent or Custodian

For students under the age of 18, the residence of the parents as defined by this policy shall be considered the residence of the student for school attendance purposes, if the parent resides within Habersham County, regardless of any claim that the student resides somewhere else. Primary school contact and correspondence with such minors will be conducted through the student’s parents.

Admission of Students Over 18

For students over the age of 18 who establish a residence separate and apart from their parents, the residence of the student shall be considered the residence for school attendance purposes and proof of that residence may be required in the same manner described above.

Status of Student Who Moves Out of Attendance Zone During School Year

Whenever a student moves out of attendance zone and into another attendance zone within the District after the school year begins, the following rules apply:

The student can complete the school year at the school where the student began the year or the student can transfer immediately.

Transportation will not be provided to any students under this paragraph who choose to continue to attend the school where they began the year.

Status of Student Who Moves Out of the School System During the School Year

If a student moves out of Habersham County after the school year begins, the student will not be permitted to remain in the Habersham County School System.

School Choice (Grade K­12)/Transfers Among Habersham County Schools

A parent/guardian may request to send their child to a school other than the school in their designated attendance zone as long as there is permanent classroom space available in the other school after its assigned students have been enrolled.

If a parent elects to exercise this choice option, the parent assumes all costs associated with transporting the child to and from the selected school. A student who transfers to another school pursuant to this law may, at his or her election, continue to attend such school until the student completes all grades of the school. Students registering for the first time in a Habersham County, with the exception of Kindergarten students, must attend their zoned school for 10 days prior to submitting a school choice transfer application.

The following factors may be considered in determining available classroom space:

Projected enrollment;

Maximum class size based on grade and subject under state law and regulations;

Building capacity based on health and safety standards;

Reserved space for anticipated transfers from an “unsafe” school

The school choice transfer option does not apply to charter schools or newly opened schools for a period of four years from the school’s opening date.

School choice transfers shall be implemented in accordance with the following procedures:

The Habersham County Board of Education has in place a process that allows students to transfer from their assigned school to another school within the district as governed by O.C.G.A 20-2-2131. This process includes school choice transfers, childcare/hardship transfers, and medical/legal transfers, all of which are based entirely on available space at the requested school.

Transfer Process: General Information

The parent or guardian must submit a “School Choice Transfer Application” form to the curriculum department at the Habersham Board of Education Office at 132 Stanford Mill Road, Clarkesville, GA. The form is available online and at each school and Habersham County School System Board Office.

School Choice transfers are based on available spaced and are only allowed to the schools on the district’s School Choice transfer list.

A student may receive only one transfer during a school year.

Transportation for students on transfer is the responsibility of the parent /guardian.

Transfer of a student does not guarantee the transfer of a sibling.

If a request for a transfer is granted, the receiving school principal, with written notice, may revoke the transfer based on reasons deemed appropriate by administration.

Banks County Resident Students

According to Georgia state law, some students who reside in Banks County are eligible to be permitted to enroll at Baldwin Elementary School. Eligibility for Banks County resident students to enroll in schools in Habersham County is determined by the physical distance and bus travel time (specified by state law) between the student's primary residence and the specific school located in Habersham County. Classroom space must be available.

Student qualification is determined by Banks County Schools and must be approved by Habersham County Schools to attend Baldwin Elementary. Qualification must be established each school year.  All parents are solely responsible for any arrangements or costs pertaining to transportation to and from the school, and Banks County residents will not be provided bus transportation by Habersham County Schools.

No Banks County resident will be permitted to remain enrolled in Habersham County Schools after the completion of their 5th Grade year.

The addition of policy JBCCA(2): Unsafe School Choice Option was written in order to meet compliance with the state of Georgia, and reads as follows:

It shall be the policy of the Board of Education that the School District shall comply with the requirements of State Board Rule 160-4-8-.16 Unsafe School Choice Option (USCO).

The Superintendent and appropriate staff are authorized to develop a process that:

Facilitates the transfer of a student within ten school days of the School District’s  determination by official action that a student has been the victim of a violent criminal offense, if the student wishes to transfer to another school. To the extent possible, victims of violent criminal offenses shall be allowed to transfer to a school that is in compliance with current state and/or federal accountability requirements.

Notifies the parents/guardians of students enrolled in a school that has been identified as a persistently dangerous school within ten (10) school days of such notification to the School District by the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE). The parental notification shall explain the process for requesting a transfer to a safe public school, including a charter school, either within the School District or to one in another school district with which the School District has an agreement.

Provides for the development and submission to the GaDOE of a corrective action plan for each school identified as a persistently dangerous school within twenty (20) school days after notification to the School District by the GaDOE that a school has been so identified.