House/Senate bills to affect school transfers

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

Today is an important day for Henry County parents looking at increased educational options for their children.

The Henry County School System announced recently that March 1 is the date on which school options under Senate Bill 10 and House Bill 251 are to be posted. The district is expected to post on its website (www. a list of available schools for transfer and the appropriate form to use when applying for a transfer.

The deadline to apply is Friday, April 28.

Applications are being accepted at the district’s central office in the Student Services Department. The mailing address, which is also the physical address, is Trailer B, 33 Zack Hinton Parkway, McDonough, GA 30253.

School choice applications are not processed on a first-come, first-serve basis according to school system officials. State law requires that a lottery be conducted if the number of applications for a specific school surpasses the available slots. Parents will be notified in early May whether their applications are approved or denied.

Once approved for a specific school, a student can remain there for the duration of his or her tenure at that school. That means an elementary student who moves to a school under this plan anytime from kindergarten on up can stay there until the completion of fifth grade. The same goes for middle and high school students, and there is no need to reapply each year. Of course, all of this in contingent on the family remaining in Henry County as residents. A student who withdraws from that school would have to start the process over.

Going from fifth to sixth grade or from eighth to ninth grade, a student will be automatically enrolled in his or her zoned school unless a new school choice application is obtained and approved during the appropriate time period. If your child attends a lower school through the school choice process and the higher-level feeder school is not on the school choice list, transfer there is not an option. You can go back to your zoned school or apply for another school on the list.

To apply for school choice, a student’s family must reside in Henry County and be able to prove that according to the district’s standard policy.

Having an older child previously approved for school choice does not give a family any advantage when applying on behalf of a younger child. The school choice list changes every year and is based on available space. Each application is reviewed individually and sibling status is not a factor, according to officials.

A change in the state law has led to a proposal that could factor attendance and discipline into eligibility for school choice. If that is approved, attendance and discipline records dating back one calendar year from the date of application would be reviewed. Excessive unexcused attendance transactions and/or behavior referrals may result in a denial of the school choice request.

For more information, visit the school system’s website or phone 770-957-6601.