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SB 0601 - 'Georgia Educational Freedom Act'; enact

Tracking Level: Watch
Sponsor: Butch Miller (R)
Last Action: 3/15/2022 - Senate - Senate Lost
Senate Committee: Education and Youth
Assigned To:
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Staff Analysis of the Legislation

GSBA-CWO Header 

SUMMARY:  LC 49 0911

The bill is the Georgia Educational Freedom Act, a new voucher program described as a "promise scholarship account."  The voucher would be $6,000 per school year, subject to appropriations. The program would be administered by the Georgia Student Finance Commission. The bill is similar to HB 999 which is in the House Education Committee. Acceptance of the voucher waives any rights under IDEA and Section 504.

Up to 50% of the total funds for a school year can be rolled over to the next year.  Upon high school graduation, any unused funds roll over and may be used for tuition at a postsecondary institution located in the state. 

If the number of participating students or number of applicants exceeds the funds available, the Commission will have a lottery process set up, prioritizing participating students over new applicants.  There will be, at a minimum, annual random audits of the parent accounts. 

Students qualify for the voucher if: 

      1. A parent lives in Georgia and is a U.S. citizen or is in the country legally under federal immigration law

      2. The student was enrolled in and attended a public school in Georgia for at  least six weeks during the school year immediately preceding such student's initial or resumed participation in the program

      3. The student's parent signs an agreement to provide an education for the student in at least the subjects of reading, grammar, math, social studies, and science; to use the account funds only for qualified education expenses of the student; and not to enroll the student in the local school system, local charter, or state charter school.

      4. The student is not a recipient or beneficiary of the special needs voucher and does not try to receive such a benefit.  

      5. The student's parent submits an application by the quarterly deadline set by the Student Finance Commission. 

Eligibility continues until a student returns to a public school, graduates from high school, or reaches 20, or for special needs students 21.   

Qualified education expenses are: 

      Tuition, fees, and required textbooks at a private school

      Tuition, fees, and required textbooks at a community college or accredited postsecondary institution

      Tutoring services provided by an educator certified by the Professional Standards Commission

      Payment for purchase of curriculum, including any supplemental materials required by the curriculum

      Tuition and fees for a private online learning program or course

      Services from a physician or licensed therapist including, but not limited to, occupational, behavioral, physical, or speech-language therapies 

      Up to $500 per year to a fee-for-service transportation provider for transportation to or from school or service provider

      Fees for management of account funds

      Computer hardware or other technological devices approved by the Commission or a physician if the device is used to meet the student's educational needs 

The bill lists requirements for participating schools to meet in addition to any standards set by the Commission. See lines 120-137

A parent review committee would be set up "to assist in the determination of whether certain expenses meet the requirements." 

The Commission shall approve at least three nationally norm-referenced tests to measure academic progress in math and language arts.  Private schools enrolling participating students must ensure all students are annually administered one of the Commission approved nationally norm-referenced tests or a statewide assessment made available by the resident school system. Reporting requirements are listed in the bill in lines 259-294.  

 

EFFECTIVE DATE:

July 1, 2022 


Bill Summary from the State Site - Click for the State Summary Page / Click for Current Full Text