Eligibility

Georgia Special Needs Scholarship: Senate Bill 10

The Georgia Special Needs Scholarship (GSNS), referred to as Senate Bill 10, was signed into law May 2007. This bill provides parents of students with disabilities who are enrolled in Georgia public schools with an active Individualized Education Program (IEP) the choice to request a transfer to another public school or state approved participating private school in Georgia. Parents or Guardians who wish to take advantage of the Special Education Special Needs Scholarship Program for in-district transfer must complete an application through the Special Education office located at the Bryan County Board of Education, 8810 Hwy 280, Black Creek, GA 31308, Phone - 912-851-4014, Office Hours - Monday - Friday - 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

To newly qualify for the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program for the 2015-2016 school year a student must meet ALL FOUR of 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 2013 – 2014 school year in a Georgia public school in grades kindergarten through twelfth.

Student Eligibility Criteria 3- A student was reported as attending a Georgia public school by a school district(s) during mandatory student counts conducted in October 2014 and March 2015.

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 2014–2015 school year through an IEP. A student must be reported by a school district(s) in either the October 2014 OR March 2015 student counts OR in final student record as a student receiving special education services by the end of the 2014–2015 school year.

If a student meets the eligibility criteria for the GSNS Program, a parent/guardian has the right to request a transfer from a student’s current public school to:

  • Another public school within their district of residence; or

  • Another public school district outside their district of residence; or

  • One of the three state schools for the blind or deaf; or

  • A private school authorized to participate in the GSNS Program.

  • Funds received through the GSNS Program can only be used to pay for tuition and fees at a private school authorized by the State Board of Education to participate in the program.

Funds cannot be used to pay the costs of out of district tuition, charter schools, or other options available under public school choice.

The following students are ineligible for the GSNS program:

  • Pre-school special education students.

A special education student must complete a full school year in kindergarten before he/she can be eligible.

  • Home school students.

  • Students privately placed in residential treatment facilities.

  • Students attending a Department of Juvenile Justice School.

  • Students in the Early Intervention Program (EIP).

  • Students with an Individualized Accommodation Plan (IAP, Section 504 plan); and/or

  • Students otherwise not eligible per Official Code of Georgia Annotated Section §20-2-2114.

Transportation under all school choice options are the responsibility of a parent/guardian.

The deadline for submitting in-district transfer request applications for the 15-16 school year is June 30, 2015.

Special Education Eligibility Categories

In partnership with general education, the Special Education Department seeks to provide services for students with disabilities which facilitate educational success. These services support the school system's goals and are delivered through a variety of models. The Individual Education Program (IEP) specifies educational placement and programs for students along a continuum of services.

Special Education services are provided for students who qualify in one or more of the following areas:

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability generally evident before age three that adversely affects a child's educational performance and significantly affects developmental rates and sequences, verbal and non-verbal communication and social interaction and participation. Other characteristics often associated with autism spectrum disorder are unusual responses to sensory experiences, engagement in repetitive activities and stereotypical movements and resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines. Autism does not apply if a child’s educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disturbance as defined in (d). Children with autism spectrum disorder vary widely in their abilities and behavior.

The term of autism spectrum disorder includes all subtypes of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (such as Autistic Disorder; Rett’s Disorder; Childhood

Disintegrative Disorder; Asperger Syndrome; and Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified) provided the child’s educational performance is adversely affected and the child meets the eligibility criteria. Autism spectrum disorder may exist concurrently with other areas of disability.

Deaf Blind

Deaf blind means concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness.

Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHH)

A child who is deaf or hard of hearing is one who exhibits a hearing loss that, whether permanent or fluctuating, interferes with the acquisition or maintenance of auditory skills necessary for the normal development of speech, language, and academic achievement and, therefore, adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

A child who is deaf can be characterized by the absence of enough measurable hearing (usually a pure tone average of 66-90+ decibels American National Standards Institute without amplification) such that the primary sensory input for communication may be other than the auditory channel.

A child who is hard of hearing can be characterized by the absence of enough measurable hearing (usually a pure tone average range of 30-65 decibels American National Standards Institute without amplification) that the ability to communicate is adversely affected; however, the child who is hard of hearing typically relies upon the auditory channel as the primary sensory input for communication.

Emotional Behavioral Disorders

An emotional and behavioral disorder is an emotional disability characterized by the following:

  • An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and/or teachers. For preschool-age children, this would include other care providers.

  • An inability to learn which cannot be adequately explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors.

  • A consistent or chronic inappropriate type of behavior or feelings under normal conditions.

  • A displayed pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.

  • A displayed tendency to develop physical symptoms, pains or unreasonable fears associated with personal or school problems.

Intellectual Disabilities

Intellectual disabilities refer to significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning which exists concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior that adversely affects educational performance and originates before age 18.

Intellectual disability does not include conditions primarily due to a sensory or physical impairment, traumatic brain injury, autism spectrum disorders, severe multiple impairments, cultural influences or a history of inconsistent and/or inadequate educational programming.

Mild Intellectual Disability (MID)

Intellectual functioning ranging between an upper limit of approximately 70 to a lower limit of approximately 55; and Deficits in adaptive behavior that significantly limit a child’s effectiveness in meeting the standards of maturation, learning, personal independence or social responsibility, and especially school performance that is expected of the individual’s age level and cultural group, as determined by clinical judgment.

Moderate Intellectual Disability (MOID)

Intellectual functioning ranging from an upper limit of approximately 55 to a lower limit of approximately 40; and
Deficits in adaptive behavior that significantly limit a child’s effectiveness in meeting the standards of maturation, learning, personal independence or social responsibility, and especially school performance that is expected of the individual’s age-level and cultural group as determined by clinical judgment.

Severe Intellectual Disability (SID)

Intellectual functioning ranging from an upper limit of approximately 40 to a lower limit of approximately 25; and
Deficits in adaptive behavior that significantly limit a child’s effectiveness in meeting the standards of maturation, learning, personal independence or social responsibility and especially school performance that is expected of the individual’s age-level and cultural group as determined by clinical judgment.

Profound Intellectual Disability (PID)

Intellectual functioning below approximately 25; and
Deficits in adaptive behavior that significantly limit a child’s effectiveness in meeting the standards of maturation, learning, personal independence or social responsibility and especially school performance that is expected of the child's age-level and cultural group, as determined by clinical judgment.

Orthopedic Impairment (Physical and Health Disability)

Orthopedic impairment refers to a child whose severe orthopedic impairments adversely affects their educational performance to the degree that the child requires special education.

This term may include:

  • Impairment caused by congenital anomalies, e.g., deformity or absence of some limb.

  • Impairment caused by disease (poliomyelitis, osteogenesis imperfecta, muscular dystrophy, bone tuberculosis, etc.)

  • Impairment from other causes, e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures.

Secondary disabilities may be present, including, but not limited to:

  • visual impairment

  • hearing impairment

  • communication impairment

  • intellectual disability

Other Health Impairments

Other health impairment means having limited strength, vitality or alertness including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that:

Is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficient hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, or heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette Syndrome, and

Adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

In some cases, heightened awareness to environmental stimulus results in difficulties with starting, staying on and completing tasks; making transitions between tasks; interacting with others; following directions; producing work consistently; and, organizing multi-step tasks.

Significantly Developmentally Delayed

The term significant developmental delay refers to a delay in a child’s development in adaptive behavior, cognition, communication, motor development or emotional development to the extent that, if not provided with special intervention, the delay may adversely affect a child’s educational performance in age-appropriate activities. The term does not apply to children who are experiencing a slight or temporary lag in one or more areas of development, or a delay which is primarily due to environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage or lack of experience in age appropriate activities. The SDD eligibility may be used for children from ages three through nine (the end of the school year in which the child turns nine).

Specific Learning Disabilities

Specific learning disability is defined as a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or do mathematical calculations. The term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia and developmental aphasia. The term does not apply to children who have learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing or motor disabilities, intellectual disabilities, emotional or behavioral disorders, environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage.

The child with a specific learning disability has one or more serious academic deficiencies and does not achieve adequately according to age to meet State-approved grade-level standards. These achievement deficiencies must be directly related to a pervasive processing deficit and to the child’s response to scientific, research-based interventions. The nature of the deficit(s) is such that classroom performance is not correctable without specialized techniques that are fundamentally different from those provided by general education teachers, basic remedial/tutorial approaches, or other compensatory programs. This is clearly documented by the child’s response to instruction as demonstrated by a review of the progress monitoring available in general education and Student Support Team (SST) intervention plans as supported by work samples and classroom observations. The child's need for academic support alone is not sufficient for eligibility and does not override the other established requirements for determining eligibility.

Eligibility can be established in one or more of the following areas:

  • Oral Expression

  • Listening Comprehension

  • Written Expression

  • Basic Reading

  • Reading Comprehension

  • Math Calculation

  • Math Reasoning

  • Reading Fluency

Speech-Language Impairments

Speech or language impairment refers to a communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, language or voice impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. A speech or language impairment may be congenital or acquired. It refers to impairments in the areas of articulation, fluency, voice or language. Individuals may demonstrate one or any combination of speech or language impairments. A speech or language impairment may be a primary disability or it may be secondary to other disabilities.

While there are disorders of oral communication, not all oral communication problems are disorders. Such communication problems as dialectal differences, limited English proficiency and maturational articulation and language delays are frequently brought to the attention of the Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), but are unlikely to require remediation by the SLP. To determine when students who have oral communication problems should be referred to SLP, the classroom teacher and speech-language pathologist work as a team to make this decision.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) refers to an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects the child's educational performance. The term applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments which are immediate or delayed in one or more areas, such as cognition, language, memory, attention, reasoning, abstract thinking, judgment, problem solving, sensory, perceptual and motor abilities, psychosocial behavior, physical functions, speech and information processing. The term does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative in nature, brain injuries induced by birth trauma.

Visual Impairments

A child with a visual impairment is one whose vision, even with correction, adversely impacts a child’s educational performance. Examples are children whose visual impairments may result from congenital defects, eye diseases, or injuries to the eye. The term includes both visual impairment and blindness as follows:

Blind refers to a child whose visual acuity is 20/200 or less in the better eye after correction or who has a limitation in the field of vision that subtends anangle of 20 degrees. Some children who are legally blind have useful vision and may read print.

Visually impaired refers to a child whose visual acuity falls within the range of 20/70 to 20/200 in the better eye after correction or who have a limitation in the field of vision that adversely impacts educational progress.

Special education students may also receive related services in the areas of transportation, occupational therapy & physical therapy, music therapy, audiology, orientation & mobility, interpreter services, related vocational instruction, adaptive physical education, and assistive technology.