O.C.G.A. §20-2-1160 states that every local board of education shall constitute a tribunal for hearing and determining any matter of "local controversy in reference to the construction or administration of the school law."
Parties who disagree with a decision of their local school may request that the local board of education conduct what is called a "formal hearing" to review the decision of a school or local school board. Here are the procedures which you should follow if you disagree with a decision of the school or local school board.
1. You can first attempt to resolve the problem by asking to appear before the local board at a scheduled board meeting to voice your concerns. This is not a "formal hearing" for appeal purposes. You do not have to take this step, but sometimes it will lead to resolution of the problem.
2. If the local board refuses to hear your concerns or if you are dissatisfied with the decision, you may request a "formal hearing" from the local board. You should write a letter to the local school superintendent stating the reasons why you believe there has been a violation of state law (including State Board Rules) and asking that a formal hearing be held. State Board Rule 160-1-3-.04 states what must take place during a formal hearing.
The local board of education shall notify the parties of the time and place of the hearing.
The local board of education shall sign and issue subpoenas.
All witnesses shall testify under oath and shall be subject to cross-examination.
The local board of education shall require the testimony and other evidence to be transcribed by a court reporter or recorded by other appropriate means.
Thus, a formal hearing is just that--- a formal proceeding almost like a court proceeding where parties are allowed to present testimony and witnesses and the local board will make a formal decision. Again, merely appearing at a scheduled board meeting or executive session will usually not be considered a "formal hearing" for appeal purposes unless the above conditions are met.
If a local school board refuses to grant you a formal hearing or fails to follow specified timelines and procedures, you should consult with a private attorney about further proceedings. Neither the State Board of Education, the State School Superintendent, nor the State Department of Education has the authority to mandate or direct hearings.
After the hearing, the local board of education must notify in writing all parties within 15 days of its decision. The local board of education is also required at that time to notify the parties of their right to appeal to the State Board of Education.
After a hearing under the procedures set forth above, either party may appeal to the State Board of Education by filing a written request for appeal with the local school superintendent. This request must state the question in dispute, the decision of the local board, and a concise statement of the reasons why the decision is being appealed. This appeal should be addressed to and filed with the local school superintendent within 30 days of the decision of the local board of education. The request for appeal should not be sent directly to the State Board of Education. A transcript of the proceedings must also be filed. Rule 160-1-3-.04 (4)(b)(c) sets forth who pays for the costs of this transcript.
Upon receipt of the request for appeal, the local schools superintendent will transmit to the state school superintendent a copy of the appeal request together with the transcript of evidence and proceedings, the written decision of the local board, and any other information in the file relating to the appeal. The local school superintendent has 10 days after receiving the request for appeal to transmit the documents to the State School Superintendent.
If the appeal is in proper form, the State School Superintendent, through the Legal Services division, will inform the parties that the appeal has been docketed and what types of information will be required and what time lines to follow.