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BoE talks about policies for tuition-paying out-of-county students

Tuition-paying out-of-county students in Fayette County school classrooms has moved from a theoretical concept to the draft policy stage.

The idea of accepting out-of-county students in Fayette County schools as a way of increasing much needed revenues first surfaced last year in a community survey and met with significant opposition.

But the idea is back this year, and comes in the wake of the Fayette County School System facing unprecedented cuts in expenses for the 2013-2014 school year that begins in July.

The consideration for accepting qualified out-of-county students was proposed recently by Superintendent Jeff Bearden, and a draft policy and enrollment application were topics at the Oct. 15 meeting of the Fayette County Board of Education.

The draft policy states that the admission of out-of-county students is a privilege, not a right. The enrollment of a qualified student by a parent, guardian or custodian residing outside Fayette County are subject to a number of conditions, the draft policy said.

One of the conditions for attendance deals with required tuition that must be paid in full at the beginning of the school year.

“Nonresident students will be required to pay an annual tuition fee, the amount of which will be determined by the board of education. Tuition must be paid in full at the beginning of the school year. Non-payment (delinquency) of tuition will result in the student’s immediate withdrawal from the school system,” according to the draft policy.

Another condition of the draft policy states that admission is on a one-year basis, with the requirement that the student apply each year to continue enrollment in Fayette schools. The policy also notes that space must be available and that the acceptance of an out-of-county student will not require employing additional staff.

Other criteria for attending Fayette County schools concerns disciplinary issues.

“A student seeking enrollment may not have pending any disciplinary proceeding in the school where the student was previously enrolled and must otherwise be in good standing with the school the student last attended. Students who have withdrawn from a previous school district to avoid disciplinary action in a previous district may not enroll in the Fayette County School System,” the draft policy said.

The proposed enrollment application also includes the requirement that the student furnish a transcript, discipline records and attendance records from the previous school.

“A nonresident student is admitted conditioned upon the student’s good behavior and willingness to perform the required academic assignments.

“Any violation of the student code of conduct or of any other Fayette County Schools’ policies or regulations by a non-resident student may result in the revocation of the student’s privilege to attend Fayette County Schools.

“Decisions regarding revocation of this privilege may be made by the principal and superintendent without resort to a student disciplinary tribunal.

“A student or parent may appeal the decision of the principal to the superintendent. There is no appeal beyond the decision of the superintendent,” according to the draft policy.

Also noted in the draft policy is the responsibility of the parent or guardian to provide transportation to and from school. The non-resident student cannot catch a school bus or be dropped off at a school bus stop.

A portion of the policy pertains to the parent or guardian of the out-of-county student.

“Non-resident students may be denied enrollment or continued enrollment if the parent/guardian demonstrates an attitude of uncooperativeness, antagonism, threats, ridicule, or slanderous comments toward school programs, process, or personnel. Such denial is subject to appeal to the superintendent,” the draft policy stated.

Athletics, Attendance and Discipline Coordinator C.W. Campbell at the meeting said 13 other school systems in Georgia have a similar policy that allows out-of-district students to attend their schools.

Suggestions for the policy noted by board member Janet Smola included issues such as the addition that tuition be paid in full before the student is enrolled. Smola also wanted the tuition to amount to significantly more than the amount Fayette residents are paying through property taxes.

Pertaining to tuition, Superintendent Jeff Bearden said the school board will set that amount, adding that it would likely fluctuate somewhat from year to year.

The policy will sit for 30 days and be taken up by the school board in November.

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