TN 56 (08-17)

PR 07905.012 Georgia

A. PR 17-106 Eligibility for Child’s Insurance Benefits as a Full-Time Student Based on Enrollment in Ombudsman Alternative School

Date: July 5, 2017

1. Syllabus

Ombudsman Alternative School operates as an alternative educational program for secondary education in compliance with Georgia law and, is therefore, an educational institution.

2. Opinion

QUESTION

You asked whether Ombudsman Alternative School (OAS), an entity located in Georgia, is an educational institution for determining if the claimant, a Georgia resident, is eligible for child’s insurance benefits (CIB) as a full-time elementary or secondary school student. You also asked whether the claimant is in full-time attendance based on her instruction through OAS for determining the claimant’s eligibility for CIB as a full-time elementary or secondary school student.

OPINION

OAS operates as an alternative educational program for secondary education in compliance with Georgia law and, therefore, OAS is an educational institution for determining the claimant’s eligibility for CIB as a full-time elementary or secondary school student. The claimant also met state and Federal standards for full-time attendance for determining the claimant’s eligibility for CIB as a full-time elementary or secondary school student.

BACKGROUND

According to the information provided, E~ (Claimant) received CIB on the earnings record of E2~. Claimant turned eighteen years of age in March 2016. On December 8, 2016, Claimant completed a Student’s Statement Regarding School Attendance form (Form SSA-1372), wherein she indicated she lives in B~, Georgia, and was in full-time attendance at OAS, located in B~, Georgia. Claimant indicated OAS is a high school program. Claimant reported her last school year at OAS began in August 2016 and would end in May 2017, when she expected to graduate. Claimant also reported she attended OAS twenty-five hours per week. Claimant indicated she was not married or disabled and no employer paid her to attend school.

J~, a guidance counselor at H~ County High School, completed and signed the Certification of School Official page of Form SSA-1372, indicating that the information Claimant provided was correct. See H~ Cty. Schools, School Counselors, http://www.haralson.k12.ga.us/ Schoolcounselors.aspx (listing J~ as a school counselor). J~ indicated that OAS’s course of study was at least thirteen weeks in duration.

Claimant submitted an enrollment agreement with OAS dated July 2016. The agreement indicates that students are expected to maintain daily attendance and that any credits earned at OAS will be transferred to the referring school district. Claimant also submitted a student profile and schedule that indicates she was referred to OAS by H~ County High School and that she was scheduled to take four courses at OAS in the first semester and three courses in the second semester.

The website for Georgia Department of Education (DOE) lists OAS as an alternative education program for H~ County. See Ga. DOE, Ga. Alternative Educ. Programs & Schs., http://www.gadoe.org/School-Improvement/School-Improvement-Services/Documents/ AEP/Alternative%20Education%20Programs%20and%20Schools%20List.pdf (last visited June 28, 2017). Georgia DOE’s website explains that the alternative education program provides school and program options for students who experience difficulty in traditional settings, and local school systems are required to establish a disciplinary alternative education program. See Ga. DOE, Alternative Educ. Program, http://www.gadoe.org/School-Improvement/School-Improvement-Services/Pages/Alternative-Education-Program-and-Magnet-Schools.aspx (last visited June 28, 2017).

OAS’s website indicates that it provides programs for alternative education, credit recovery, dropout prevention, and dropout recovery. See Ombudsman, Program Options, http://www.ombudsman.com/district-partnerships/program-options/ (last visited June 28, 2017). OAS offers morning and afternoon sessions Monday through Friday. See Ombudsman, For Students, Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.http://www.ombudsman.com/students-families/for-students/ (last visited June 28, 2017). OAS uses a blended curriculum of teacher-led instruction and computer-assisted instruction, and its curriculum is aligned to Common Core and state-specific standards. See Ombudsman, Curriculum & Instruction, http://www.ombudsman.com/district-partnerships/solutions/ (last visited June 28, 2017). Students are referred to OAS by their school district and remain enrolled in their referring school district while attending OAS. See Ombudsman, Forming A Partnership, http://www.ombudsman.com/district-partnerships/forming-a-partnership/; Ombudsman, How to Enroll, http://www.ombudsman.com/students-families/enrollment/ (last visited June 28, 2017).

DISCUSSION

To be eligible for CIB on the earnings record of an insured person entitled to old-age or disability insurance benefits, or who has died, a claimant who is eighteen years or older and not disabled must be a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” See Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(B)(i); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2017);1 Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001.A. A claimant may qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student” if he or she attends an educational institution, i.e., a school that provides elementary or secondary education (twelfth grade or below) as determined under the law of the state in which the school is located. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (d)(7)(C); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (e); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.200.A. Unless there is evidence to the contrary, the Social Security Administration assumes public high schools located in the United States are educational institutions. See POMS RS 00205.250.B.1.

A claimant also must attend school full time to qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.300.A. A claimant attends school full time if he or she is attending an educational institution and meets both state and Federal standards for full-time attendance. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300.A. An individual meets the state standards of full-time attendance if a qualifying educational institution considers the individual to be a full-time student based on the institution’s standards and practices. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.300.B; POMS RS 00205.350.C.1. An individual meets the Federal standards if he or she is scheduled to attend school at the rate of at least twenty hours per week, enrolled in a noncorrespondence course, and enrolled in a course of study lasting at least thirteen weeks. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300.C.

Educational Institution under Georgia Law

Because OAS is located in Georgia, we look to Georgia law to determine whether OAS is a school that provides elementary or secondary education. See Act § 202(d)(7)(C)(i); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); POMS RS 00205.200.A. Georgia’s compulsory education law recognizes three types of educational entities: public schools, private schools, and home study programs. See Ga. Code Ann. §§ 20-2-690(a), 20-2-690.1(a) (West 2017).2 The compulsory attendance requirement applies to children attending an alternative public school program established under section 20-2-154.1 of the Georgia Code. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690.1(b).

Under Georgia law, all children are eligible for enrollment in a public education program until they attain the age of twenty or receive a high school diploma. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-150(a). In lieu of the general or career education program, Georgia law requires the establishment of alternative education programs by local school districts for students who have been suspended from the regular classroom. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-154.1(d); Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. § 160-4-8-.12 (2017).3 Under Georgia law, alternative education programs are designed to meet the needs of a student who is suspended from the regular classroom or who is more likely to succeed in a nontraditional setting. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-154.1(b); Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. § 160-4-8-.12(2)(a), (2)(b). Course credit is earned in an alternative education program in the same manner as in other education programs, and the program focuses on language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and self-discipline. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-154.1(a), (d)(4). The local school board must ensure that the curriculum is aligned to Georgia Performance Standards and the courses satisfy state and local requirements for meeting grade level and obtaining a diploma. See Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. § 160-4-8-.12(2)(f), (l). The local school board may contract with an educational management organization to provide the alternative education program. See Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. § 160-4-8-.12(2)(d).

Georgia alternative education programs operate in affiliation with a local public school, and the student’s achievement and attendance data are reported by the affiliated public school. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-154.1(d); Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 160-4-8-.12(2)(a), (2)(b), (3). Georgia DOE’s website indicates that OAS is the alternative education program for H~ County High School, a public school. See Ga. Alternative Educ. Programs & Schs., http://www.gadoe.org/School-Improvement/School-Improvement-Services/Documents/ AEP/Alternative%20Education%20Programs%20and%20Schools%20List.pdf (last visited June 28, 2017); Haralson County Schools, http://www.haralson.k12.ga.us/ Schools.aspx (last visited June 28, 2017). Accordingly, OAS is an educational institution because it provides secondary education in accordance with Georgia law. See Act § 202(d)(7)(C)(i); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.200.A; POMS RS 00205.250.B.1.

Full-Time Attendance

The evidence also shows that Claimant’s study through OAS satisfied the requirements for full-time attendance. Claimant met the state standards for full-time attendance because J~, a counselor at H~High School, confirmed Claimant’s statement that she was in full-time attendance at OAS. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.300.B; POMS RS 00205.350.C.1. Claimant met the Federal standards for full-time attendance because she stated, and J~ confirmed, that Claimant was scheduled to attend OAS for twenty-five hours per week; J~ indicated that OAS’s course of study was at least thirteen weeks in duration; and nothing in the information available indicates that Claimant took correspondence courses. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300.C. Thus, the information provided indicates Claimant meets the state and Federal full-time attendance standards.

CONCLUSION

OAS is an educational institution under Georgia law and Claimant was in full-time attendance based on her instruction through OAS for determining her eligibility for CIB as a full-time elementary or secondary school student. If we may provide further assistance, please contact the undersigned at (404) 562-1092.

Sincerely,

Mary Ann Sloan

Regional Chief Counsel

By: Rebecca Ringham

Assistant Regional Counsel

B. PR 17-104 Eligibility for CIB as a Full-Time Elementary or Secondary School Student Based on Attendance at Braselton Christian Academy Georgia

Date: June 28, 2017

1. Syllabus

Braselton Christian Academy, a private school, is considered an educational institution under Georgia law.

2. Opinion

QUESTION

You asked whether Braselton Christian Academy (BCA), an entity located in Georgia, is an educational institution for determining the beneficiary’s eligibility for child’s insurance benefits (CIB) as a full-time elementary or secondary school student. You also asked whether the beneficiary meets the full-time attendance (FTA) requirements.

OPINION

BCA is an educational institution under Georgia law. Additionally, based on the available information, the beneficiary was attending BCA full time through May 23, 2017, for determining his eligibility for CIB.

BACKGROUND

Based on the information provided, T~ (Beneficiary) started receiving CIB on the record of M~ in November 2010 and seeks to continue receiving CIB as a full-time student after attaining age 18 on September XX, 2016. On May XX, 2017, Beneficiary completed a Student’s Statement Regarding School Attendance form (Form SSA-1372). Beneficiary indicated that he lived in Georgia and attended BCA, which he described as a high school located in Braselton, Georgia. Beneficiary indicated he attended BCA last year for 36.5 hours a week, was scheduled to attend it from August 5, 2016, through May 23, 2017, at 32.5 hours a week, and was expected to graduate on May 23, 2017. Beneficiary indicated he was not disabled, married, or receiving payment from an employer to attend school.

P~, the lead administrator and owner/operator of BCA, completed and signed the Certification by School Official page of Form SSA-1372 and indicated that the information Beneficiary provided was correct according to BCA’s records. P~ also indicated that BCA’s course of study was at least 13 weeks in duration and that BCA operated on a yearly basis.

The Georgia DOE’s website lists BCA as a private school for fiscal year 2017. See Georgia Dep’t of Ed. Private School Survey Application Data Collection System, https://app3.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/psc_pack_mainmenu.pvsch_list_public?p_sort=1 (last visited June 20, 2017). According to BCA’s website, BCA is a privately funded educational provider. See BCA, Community Involvement, http://www.braseltonchristianacademy.com/community-involvement/ (last visited May 23, 2017). Its website also states that while “setting each student up for educational success beyond the confines of our campus” is “central” to BCA’s purpose, the school’s focus is “on the growth of the whole child – academically, socially, and spiritually.” BCA, About Us, http://www.braseltonchristianacademy.com/about/ (last visited June 20, 2017). BCA’s website states that its curriculum “is tailored to fit the needs of the individual child and includes both traditional and activity-based teaching methods/curriculum,” but the website does not describe what subjects BCA’s curriculum encompasses. BCA, Academics, http://www.braseltonchristianacademy.com/academics/ (last visited June 20, 2017). However, its website indicates that BCA has received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools (SACS) and is affiliated with Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). See BCA, Accreditation, http://www.braseltonchristianacademy.com/accreditation/ (last visited June 20, 2017). In addition, BCA’s website indicates that BCA is an approved school for the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program (GSNSP). See http://www.braseltonchristianacademy.com/academics/ (last visited June 20, 2017). The Georgia Department of Education maintains a list of private schools authorized to participate in the GSNSP, which includes BCA. See GSNSP Authorized Participating Private Schools List 2016-2017 School Year, http://www.gadoe.org/External-Affairs-and-Policy/Policy/Documents/SB10%20Private%20School%20List.pdf (last updated March 9, 2017).

DISCUSSION

To be eligible for child’s benefits on the earnings record of an insured person who is entitled to old-age or disability benefits, or who has died, a beneficiary who is 18 years or older and not disabled must be a full-time elementary or secondary school student. See Social Security Act § 202(d)(1)(B)(i); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2017); Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001.A. A beneficiary may qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student” if he or she attends an educational institution, i.e., a school that provides elementary or secondary education (twelfth grade or below) according to the law of the state or jurisdiction where the school is located. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (d)(7)(C); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.200.A.

A beneficiary also must attend school full time to qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.300.A. A beneficiary meets the state standards for full-time attendance if a qualifying educational institution considers the beneficiary to be full time based on the institution’s standards and practices. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.300.B; POMS RS 00205.350.C.1. A beneficiary meets the Federal standards if he or she is scheduled to attend school at the rate of 20 hours per week, enrolled in a noncorrespondence course, and enrolled in a course of study that is at least 13 weeks in duration. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300.C.

BCA is located in Georgia. Therefore, we look to Georgia law to determine whether BCA qualifies as an educational institution. See Act § 202(d)(7)(C)(i); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); POMS RS 00205.200.A. Georgia’s compulsory education law recognizes three types of educational entities: public schools, private schools, and home study programs. See Ga. Code Ann. §§ 20-2-690(a), 20-2-690.1(a) (West 2017). The website for BCA indicates it is a private school. Thus, we must determine whether BCA is a private school under Georgia law.

The evidence shows that BCA qualifies as a private school. Under Georgia law, a “private school” is an institution that meets the following requirements: (1) its primary purpose is to provide education; (2) it is privately controlled and operates on a continuing basis; (3) it provides instruction for the equivalent of 180 days of education with each school day consisting of at least 4 and 1/2 hours; (4) it provides a basic educational program, which includes reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science; (5) it meets certain requirements to report information to each local public school district that has residents enrolled, including a list of the name, age, and residence of each enrollee; and (6) any building used by the institution for private school purposes meets all health and safety standards. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b). We initially note that the Georgia DOE website lists BCA as a private school for fiscal year 2017. See Georgia Dep’t of Ed. Private School Survey Application Data Collection System,

https://app3.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/psc_pack_mainmenu.pvsch_list_public?p_sort=1 (last visited June 20, 2017). Additionally, the evidence provided indicates BCA is a private school authorized to participate in the GSNSP. See http://www.braseltonchristianacademy.com/academics/ (last visited June 20, 2017); GSNSP Authorized Participating Private Schools List 2016-2017 School Year, http://www.gadoe.org/External-Affairs-and-Policy/Policy/Documents/SB10%20Private%20School%20List.pdf (last updated March 9, 2017). To be eligible to participate in the GSNSP, a school must comply with all the requirements under Ga Code Ann. § 20-2-690 and any other state law applicable to private schools. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-2115(a)(5) (West 2017). Accordingly, the evidence establishes that BCA is a private school under Georgia law and an educational institution for determining whether Beneficiary is a full-time secondary school student. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (d)(7)(C); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.200.A.

The evidence also shows that Benficiary’s study through BCA satisfied the requirements for full-time attendance for the 2016-2017 school year. A BCA official confirmed Beneficiary’s statement that he was in full-time attendance. See POMS RS 00205.300.B; POMS RS 00205.350.C.1 (providing the agency accepts the school official’s statement that the school considers the student is in full-time attendance according to its standards and practices for day students). Beneficiary also reported, and a BCA official confirmed, that he attended school more than 30 hours per week and the official certified that BCA’s course of study was at least 13 weeks in duration. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300.C.

CONCLUSION

As a private school, Braselton Christian Academy is an educational institution under Georgia law. Beneficiary’s attendance at Braselton Christian Academy through May 23, 2017, met both federal and state standards for full-time attendance. Thus the information provided establishes Beneficiary as a full-time elementary or secondary school student for determining his eligibility for CIB.

Mary Ann Sloan

Regional Chief Counsel

By: Natalie Liem

Assistant Regional Counsel

C. PR 16-204 Eligibility for Child’s Insurance Benefits as a Full-Time Student Based on Enrollment in Jersey Christian School

Date: September 30, 2016

1. Syllabus

Jersey Christian School is a private educational institution under Georgia law.

2. Opinion

QUESTION

You asked whether Jersey Christian School (JCS), an entity located in Georgia, is an educational institution and whether the claimant is in full-time attendance based on her instruction through JCS for determining the claimant’s eligibility for child’s insurance benefits (CIB).

OPINION

JCS is an educational institution under Georgia law and the claimant meets State and Federal standards for full-time attendance for determining the claimant’s eligibility for CIB.

BACKGROUND

According to the information provided, A~ (Claimant) received CIB on the earnings record of P~, the number holder and her mother, who was determined disabled, but whose benefits ceased on August 31, 2016, after a Continuing Disability Review. Claimant turned eighteen years of age in January 2016 and her CIB terminated. On July 18, 2016, Claimant completed a Student’s Statement Regarding School Attendance form (Form SSA-1372), wherein she indicated she lives in Monroe, Georgia, and is in full-time attendance at JCS, located in Covington, Georgia. Claimant indicated JCS is a high school program. Claimant reported her last school year at JCS began in August 2015 and ended in August 2016, when she expected to graduate. Claimant also reported she attends JCS twenty-eight or more hours per week. Claimant indicated she is not married or disabled and no employer pays her to attend school.

B~, a guidance counselor at JCS, completed and signed the Certification of School Official page of Form SSA-1372, indicating that the information Claimant provided was correct. B~ indicated that JCS operated on a yearly basis, but he did not indicate whether JCS’s course of study was at least thirteen weeks in duration. In a telephone conversation with the undersigned on September 28, 2016, C~, the office manager for JCS, indicated that JCS operates from August until the end of May, JCS reports enrollee information to the Newton County School District, and JCS’s building meets the required health and safety standards.

The Georgia DOE’s website lists JCS as a private school for fiscal year 2016. See Georgia Dep’t of Ed. Private School Survey Application Data Collection System, https://app3.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/psc_pack_mainmenu.pvsch_list_public?p_sort=1 (last visited Sept. 27, 2016). The website for Jersey Christian School indicates that it was founded in 1980 and its purpose is to provide a quality education in academics and spiritual growth. See http://jerseychristianschool.com. JCS hours are Monday through Thursday from 8:30am through 3:30pm. See http://jerseychristianschool.com/general-information. JCS uses the A Beka Book Curriculum for a college preparatory curriculum based on Christian principles. See http://jerseychristianschool.com/curriculum.

DISCUSSION

To be eligible for CIB on the earnings record of an insured person entitled to old-age or disability insurance benefits, or who has died, a claimant who is eighteen years or older and not disabled must be a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” See Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(B)(i); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2016);4 Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001.A. An individual may qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student” if he or she attends an educational institution, i.e., a school that provides elementary or secondary education (twelfth grade or below) as determined under the law of the State in which the school is located. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (d)(7)(C); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (e); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.200.A.

An individual also must attend school full time to qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.300.A. An individual attends school full time if he or she is attending an educational institution and meets both State and Federal standards for full-time attendance. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300.A. An individual meets the State standards of full-time attendance if a qualifying educational institution considers the individual to be a full-time student based on the institution’s standards and practices. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.300.B; POMS RS 00205.350.C.1. An individual meets the Federal standards if he or she is scheduled to attend school at the rate of at least twenty hours per week, enrolled in a noncorrespondence course, and enrolled in a course of study lasting at least thirteen weeks. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300.C.

Educational Institution under Georgia Law

Because JCS is located in Covington, Georgia, we look to Georgia law to determine whether JCS is a school that provides elementary or secondary education. See Act § 202(d)(7)(C)(i); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); POMS RS 00205.200.A. Georgia’s compulsory education law recognizes three types of educational entities: public schools, private schools, and home study programs. See Ga. Code. Ann. §§ 20-2-690(a), 20-2-690.1 (West 2016).5 The website for the Newton County School District, the county in which the city of Covington is located, does not list JCS as a public school. See http://www.newtoncountyschools.org/ (last visited Sept. 28, 2016). Thus, we must determine whether JCS is a private school under Georgia law.

The evidence shows that JCS qualifies as a private school. Under Georgia law, a “private school” is an institution that meets the following requirements: (1) its primary purpose is to provide education; (2) it is privately controlled and operates on a continuing basis; (3) it provides instruction for the equivalent of 180 days of education with each school day consisting of at least 4 and 1/2 hours; (4) it provides a basic educational program, which includes reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science; (5) it meets certain requirements to report information to each local public school district that has residents enrolled, including a list of the name, age, and residence of each enrollee; and (6) any building used by the institution for private school purposes meets all health and safety standards. See Ga. Code. Ann. § 20-2-690(b). We initially note that the Georgia DOE website lists JCS as a private school for fiscal year 2017. See Georgia Dep’t of Ed. Private School Survey Application Data Collection System,

https://app3.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/psc_pack_mainmenu.pvsch_list_public?p_sort=1 (last visited Sept. 28, 2016). Additionally, the evidence provided and the information on the school’s website, http://jerseychristianschool.com, demonstrate that JCS meets the requirements regarding its primary purpose, its control by a private entity and continuous operation, the length of instruction, and basic educational content. See Ga. Code. Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(1)-(4). According to the information provided by C~ on September 28, 2016, JCS also meets the requirements of reporting enrollee information to the local public school district and using a building that meets all health and safety standards. See Ga. Code. Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(5), (b)(6). Accordingly, the evidence establishes that JCS is a private school under Georgia law and an educational institution for determining whether Claimant is a full-time elementary or secondary school student. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (d)(7)(C); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.200.A.

Full-Time Attendance

The evidence also shows that Claimant’s study through JCS satisfies the requirements for full-time attendance. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300.A. Claimant meets the State and Federal full-time attendance standards because Claimant is a full-time student based on JCS’s standards and practices attending JCS at least twenty-eight hours per week, the four seven-hour days the school website identifies as school hours. See http://jerseychristianschool.com/general-information. Further, Claimant stated, and B~ confirmed, that the Claimant had physically attended school for a year, B~ confirmed that the school operates on a yearly calendar, and C~ indicated that JCS’s course of study was from August through May, i.e., at least thirteen weeks. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300.B, C; POMS RS 00205.350.B, C.1.

CONCLUSION

JCS is an educational institution under Georgia law. Further, Claimant is in full-time attendance based on her instruction through JCS.

Sincerely,

Mary Ann Sloan

Regional Chief Counsel

By: Jennifer McMahon

Assistant Regional Counsel

D. PR 16-179 Eligibility for Child’s Insurance Benefits as a Full-Time Secondary School Student Based on Enrollment at Howard Education Consulting Group LLC Virtual Academy - Georgia

Date: August 24, 2016

1. Syllabus

Howard Education Consulting Group (HECG) is not an educational institution offering secondary education under Georgia law.

2. Opinion

QUESTION

You asked whether Howard Education Consulting Group, LLC, Virtual Academy (HECG)/American High School, an entity located in Georgia, is an educational institution. You also asked whether the beneficiary, a Missouri resident, is in full-time attendance at HECG for determining if he continues to be eligible for child’s insurance benefits (CIB) as a full-time student.

OPINION

HECG is not an educational institution offering secondary education under Georgia law for determining the beneficiary’s continuing eligibility for CIB. Thus, the beneficiary’s attendance at HECG for determining if he continues to be eligible for CIB as a full-time secondary school student is not relevant.

BACKGROUND

D~ (Beneficiary) reached eighteen years of age in February 2016. Beneficiary is receiving CIB on the earnings record of his father, H~. In a Student Statement Regarding School Attendance, Form SSA-1372, Beneficiary reported he is a full-time student at HECG. Beneficiary reported he was in a high school program and scheduled to attend classes 35 hours a week. Beneficiary stated his school year began in August 2015 and ends in December 2016, and that he expects to graduate in January 2017. Ms. L~, the registrar at HECG, completed the Certification by School Official page of Form SSA-1372 on February 8, 2016, indicating that Beneficiary’s reported information is correct. Ms. L~ also indicated that Beneficiary’s course of study would last at least thirteen weeks and that the school operates on a yearly basis. In a report of contact dated June 7, 2016, an agency service representative contacted the president of HEGC/American High School, K~, who reported that the courses at HEGC are virtual and conducted by Skype and allowed for questions and interaction with the teachers and other students. The school maintained detailed tracking of each student, with attendance monitored, and presented five to six hours per day of courses. Counselors are also available to the students by Skype.

According to its website, HECG is a virtual private school. See HECG Virtual Academy, http://www.hecgvirtualed.com/hecg-virtual-academy (visited Aug. 16, 2016). Students work virtually through online live classroom sessions. See id. HECG was formerly known as Top of the Class Tutorial Services, Inc., and HECG LLC has over 15 years of experience as an educational consultant. See HECG About US, http://www.hecgvirtualed.com/about-us (visited Aug. 16, 2016). HECG offers complete online common core curriculum for grades 6-12, in addition to AP courses, SAT/ACT test preparation, and tutoring programs. See HECG Virtual Academy. HECG Virtual Academy course offerings powered by American High School’s Honors and AP track are available for all students. See id. HECG is accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, AdvancedED, and the unified organization of the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI). See HECG Virtual Academy.

DISCUSSION

For a beneficiary, who is 18 years of age or older and not disabled, to be eligible for CIB on the earnings record of an individual who dies fully or currently insured, the beneficiary must be a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(B)(i), (d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2016);6 Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001.7 An individual may qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student” if he or she attends an educational institution, i.e., a school that provides elementary or secondary education (twelfth grade or below) as determined under the law of the State in which the school is located. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (C); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (e); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.200.A.

Educational Institution under Georgia Law

Because HECG is located in Douglasville, Georgia, we look to Georgia law to determine whether HECG is a school that provides elementary or secondary education. See Act § 202(d)(7)(C)(i); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); POMS RS 00205.200.A. Georgia’s compulsory education law recognizes three types of educational entities: public schools, private schools, and home study programs. See Ga. Code. Ann. §§ 20-2-690(a), 20-2-690.1 (West 2016).8

HECG is not a public school. The website for the Douglas County School District, the county in which the city of Douglasville is located, does not list HECG as a public high school. See https://dcsdk12.org/schoollevel/high-school?field_district_city_tid=All&field_

school_type_tid=86&field_department_region_tid=All&=Apply (last visited Aug. 16, 2016). Thus, the evidence presented fails to show that HECG is a public school in either Douglas County or Georgia.

Further, the evidence presented does not show that HECG is a private school. Under Georgia law, a “private school” is an institution that meets the following requirements: (1) its primary purpose is to provide education; (2) it is privately controlled and operates on a continuing basis; (3) it provides instruction for the equivalent of 180 days of education with each school day consisting of at least 4 and 1/2 hours; (4) it provides a basic educational program, which includes reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science; (5) it meets certain requirements to report information to each local public school district that has residents enrolled, including a list of the name, age, and residence of each enrollee; and (6) any building used by the institution for private school purposes meets all health and safety standards. See Ga. Code. Ann. § 20-2-690(b). Based on the evidence presented, it appears HECG may meet the requirements regarding purpose, private control, continuous operation, length of instruction, and basic educational content. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(1)-(4). However, the evidence does not show whether HECG meets any of the other requirements to be a private school under Georgia law. In particular, there is no evidence showing that HECG reports enrollee information to the local public school district or uses a building that meets all health and safety standards. See Ga. Code. Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(5)-(6). In addition, the Georgia Department of Education (DOE) website does not list HECG as a private school for fiscal year 2016. See Georgia Dep’t of Ed. Private School Survey Application Data Collection System, https://app3.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/psc_pack_mainmenu.pvsch_list_public?p_sort=1 (last visited Aug. 16, 2016).9 Accordingly, the evidence presented is insufficient to establish that HECG is a private school under Georgia law. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (d)(7)(C); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.200.A.

Full-Time Attendance

Because HECG is not an educational institution, it is not relevant whether Beneficiary is in full-time attendance at HECG or under Missouri law, where Beneficiary resides. Therefore, based on this information, Beneficiary not attending a secondary school for determining his continuing eligibility for CIB. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c).

CONCLUSION

Based on the evidence presented, HECG Virtual Academy/American High School does not qualify as an educational institution under Georgia law and, thus, it is irrelevant whether beneficiary is a full-time student. Accordingly, Beneficiary cannot qualify as a full-time secondary student based on his enrollment at HECG.

Sincerely,

Mary Ann Sloan

Regional Chief Counsel

By: Jennifer McMahon

Assistant Regional Counsel

E. PR 16-178 Eligibility for Child’s Insurance Benefits as a Full-Time Secondary School Student Based on Enrollment at Gifted Hands Academy

Date: August 18, 2016

1. Syllabus

The available information does not establish that Gifted Hands is an educational institution under Georgia law. It does not meet the criteria of a public or private school, or home study.

2. Opinion

QUESTION

You asked whether Gifted Hands Academy (Gifted Hands), an online entity located in Georgia, qualifies as an educational institution, for purposes of determining a Georgia beneficiary’s continuing eligibility for child’s insurance benefits (CIB), and whether the beneficiary is in full time attendance.

OPINION

The information provided does not show that Gifted Hands is an educational institution under Georgia law for purposes of determining the beneficiary’s continuing eligibility for CIB. In addition, the information provided does not show that the beneficiary is instructed in elementary or secondary education at home in accordance with Georgia law. The beneficiary also does not meet State or Federal standards for full-time attendance.

BACKGROUND

According to the information provided, L~ (Beneficiary) received CIB on the earnings record of decedent C~. Beneficiary reached age 18 in June 2016. In an undated Student’s Statement Regarding School Attendance form (Form SSA-1372), Beneficiary stated that she lives in S~, Georgia, and is a full-time student at Gifted Hands, located in Lithonia, Georgia. The information provided also indicates that Beneficiary’s guardian has not filed a home study program declaration of intent with the Georgia Department of Education.

Beneficiary indicated that the type of school program is a home school and that the school year at Gifted Hands will begin on August 8, 2016, and end on June 30, 2017. She also reported that she will attend the school for 35 hours per week and expects to graduate from high school on June 25, 2017. Beneficiary further indicated that she is not married or disabled and is not being paid by an employer to attend school. S~, the founder and principal of Gifted Hands, completed and signed the Certification by School Official page of Form SSA-1372 and represented that the information Beneficiary provided is correct. S~ also indicated that Gifted Hands’s course of study lasts at least 13 weeks and it operates on a quarterly/semester system that requires reenrollment.

The website for Gifted Hands describes its program as “a home-schooling environment campus school exclusively utilizing the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum for students in Levels K-12” with its administrative office located in Lithonia, Georgia. Gifted Hands Academy, Home, http://www.giftedhandsacademy.org/ (last visited Aug. 1, 2016). The core curriculum at Gifted Hands includes math, English, literature and creative writing, social studies, science, word building, and Bible reading. See Gifted Hands Academy, Curriculum, http://www.giftedhandsacademy.org/index.php/curriculum#6266-happy (last visited Aug. 1, 2016). District Office staff report their impression that Gifted Hands is under the accreditation of Lighthouse Christian Academy (Lighthouse), located in Tennessee; however, there is no statement on Gifted Hands’s website indicating the school is accredited. See Gifted Hands Academy, Frequently Asked Questions, http://www.giftedhandsacademy.org/index.php/is-gha-accredited (last visited Aug. 1, 2016). The undersigned contacted Lighthouse by phone, and a representative stated that Lighthouse does not accredit schools or programs, only individual students.

S~ also reported to the District Office that students enrolled in Gifted Hands have school daily and are required to attend 35 hours per week. She stated that Gifted Hands operates from August through June and that students are taught by a parent; but, if a parent is not available, S~ steps in to teach. S~ further stated that Lighthouse issues report cards and diplomas. The Lighthouse representative confirmed this statement.

DISCUSSION

For a beneficiary, who is 18 years of age or older and not disabled, to be eligible for CIB on the earnings record of an individual who dies fully or currently insured, the beneficiary must be a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(B)(i), (d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2016); Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001. To qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student,” a beneficiary must attend an educational institution, i.e., a school that provides elementary or secondary education (twelfth grade or below) as determined under the law of the State in which the school is located. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (C)(i), (C)(ii); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (e); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.200.A.

A beneficiary also must attend school full time to qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.300.A. A beneficiary attending an online school is in full-time attendance if she is attending an educational institution and meets both State and Federal standards for full time attendance. See POMS RS 00205.295.B; POMS RS 00205.300.A. A beneficiary meets the State standards if a qualifying educational institution considers the beneficiary to be a full-time student based on the institution’s standards and practices. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.300.B; POMS RS 00205.350.C.1. A beneficiary meets the Federal standards if she is scheduled to attend school at the rate of 20 hours per week, enrolled in a non-correspondence course, and enrolled in a course of study that is of at least 13 weeks duration. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300.C.

A beneficiary may also qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student” if she is “instructed in elementary or secondary education at home in accordance with a home school law of the State . . . in which [she] reside[s].” 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1); see POMS RS 00205.275. A home school student must carry a subject load that is considered full time for day students under standards and practices set by the State in which she resides. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.275.B. Also, a student must be scheduled to attend at least 20 hours per week to meet the requirements of full-time attendance. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(c); POMS RS 00205.275.B; POMS RS 00205.300.C. Additionally, an individual may be considered an elementary or secondary school student if he or she is in an independent study program administered by the local school or school district in accordance with the law of the State or jurisdiction in which he or she resides. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(2); POMS RS 00205.285.

Because Gifted Hands is located in Georgia, we look to Georgia law to determine whether it is an educational institution. Georgia’s compulsory education law recognizes three types of educational entities: public schools, private schools, and home study programs. See Ga. Code Ann. §§ 20-2-690(a), 20-2-690.1 (West 2016). The website for the DeKalb County School District, the county in which Gifted Hands is located, does not list Gifted Hands as a public school. See http://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/schools-and-centers/ (last visited Aug. 10, 2016).

According to Gifted Hands’ website, Gifted Hands is a private 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. See Gifted Hands Academy, Frequently Asked Questions, http://www.giftedhandsacademy.org/index.php/what-is-gifted-hands-academy (last visited Aug. 1, 2016). Thus, Gifted Hands is not a public school, so we considered whether Gifted Hands is a private school.

Under Georgia law, a private school is an institution that meets the following requirements: (1) its primary purpose is to provide education; (2) it is privately controlled and operates on a continuing basis; (3) it provides instruction each 12 months for the equivalent of 180 days of education with each school day consisting of at least 4 and one-half hours; (4) it provides a basic educational program, which includes reading, language arts, mathematics, social sciences, and science; (5) it meets certain requirements to report information to each local public school district that has residents enrolled, including a list of the name, age, and residence of each enrollee; and (6) any building used by the institution for private school purposes meets all state health and safety standards. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b). Based on the information provided, it appears that Gifted Hands may meet the requirements regarding purpose, private control, continuous operation, length of instruction, and basic educational content. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(1)-(4). However, the information provided does not indicate whether Gifted Hands meets the other requirements to be a private school under Georgia law. Namely, there is no evidence showing that Gifted Hands reports enrollee information to the local public school district or uses a building that meets all health and safety standards. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20 2 690(b)(5)-(6). In addition, the Georgia Department of Education’s website does not list Gifted Hands as a private school. See Georgia Dep’t of Ed. Private School Survey Application Data Collection System, https://app3.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/psc_pack_mainmenu.pvsch_list_public?p_sort=1 (last visited Aug. 10, 2016). Thus, the available information is insufficient to establish that Gifted Hands is a private school under Georgia law.

We also examined whether Beneficiary’s instruction through Gifted Hands qualifies as a home study program. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1); POMS RS 00205.275.B. Under Georgia law, a parent or guardian may teach his or her child in a home study program provided the parent or guardian and home study program comply with numerous requirements, including: (1) the parent, parents, or guardian must submit an annual declaration of intent to utilize a home study program to the Georgia Department of Education; (2) the declaration must include certain enrollment and address information; (3) the parent or guardian providing instruction must possess at least a high school diploma or a general educational development (GED) diploma, or employ a tutor who holds a high school diploma or a GED diploma; (4) the home study program must provide a basic educational program which includes, but is not limited to, reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science; (5) the home study program must provide instruction each 12 months equivalent to 180 school days of education with each school day consisting of at least 4 and one half hours; (6) the parent or guardian must have authority to execute any document required by law, rule, regulation, or policy to evidence the enrollment of a child in a home study program, the student’s full-time or part-time status, the student’s grades, or any other required educational information; (7) the student must be subject to an appropriate nationally standardized testing program; and (8) the home study program instructor must write an annual progress assessment report. See Ga. Code. Ann. § 20-2-690(c).

The information provided does not indicate that Beneficiary’s guardian met or complied with the requirements of Georgia’s home schooling law. Beneficiary’s guardian did not provide evidence that he submitted a declaration of intent to the Georgia Department of Education. Further, neither Beneficiary nor her guardian provided any evidence to show that: Beneficiary’s guardian or tutor holds a high school diploma or GED diploma; Beneficiary was subject to a nationally standardized testing program; or Beneficiary’s guardian or home school program instructor wrote an annual progress report for the 2015 through 2016 school year. Thus, the information currently available does not establish that Beneficiary is instructed in a home study program under Georgia law.

Moreover, Beneficiary’s study through Gifted Hands does not appear to satisfy the independent study provisions of the regulations. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(2). Independent study is a method of alternative secondary education used in some States. POMS RS 00205.285.A. Local education agencies, such as high schools or school districts, run independent study programs. Id. Independent study programs are run “in accordance with specific State law requirements, and the credits earned count toward high school graduation.” Id. The programs involve periodic teacher contact, direction, and testing on campus, with the student making academic progress generally through independent study at home. Id. Nothing in the information provided suggests any local school or school district runs Gifted Hands. Accordingly, Beneficiary’s study through Gifted Hands does not satisfy the independent study requirements based on the available information.

Finally, because Beneficiary’s study through Gifted Hands does not qualify as either an educational institution or a home study program under Georgia law, Beneficiary does not satisfy the requirements for full-time attendance. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)-(c); POMS RS 00205.295.B; POMS RS 00205.300.A.

CONCLUSION

The available information does not establish that Gifted Hands is an educational institution under Georgia law or that Beneficiary is instructed at home in accordance with Georgia law. Beneficiary also is not in full-time attendance. Accordingly, Beneficiary has not established that she is a full-time elementary or secondary student for determining her continuing eligibility for CIB.

Sincerely,

Mary Ann Sloan

Regional Chief Counsel

By: Richard H. Winters

Assistant Regional Counsel

F. PR 16-175 Eligibility for Child’s Insurance Benefits as a Full-Time Student Based on Enrollment in Union Christian Academy of Hull, Georgia

Date: August 9, 2016

1. Syllabus

Union Christian Academy (UCA) is a private high school that offers both traditional and ministry educational opportunities. UCA is an educational institution under Georgia law. Students may earn either a college preparatory or a career and technology diploma.

2. Opinion

QUESTION

You asked whether Union Christian Academy (UCA), an entity located in Georgia, is an educational institution and whether the claimant is in full-time attendance based on her instruction through UCA for determining the claimant’s eligibility for child’s insurance benefits (CIB).

OPINION

UCA is an educational institution under Georgia law and the claimant meets State and Federal standards for full-time attendance.

BACKGROUND

According to the information provided, C~ (Claimant) received CIB on the earnings record of decedent J~, the number holder. Claimant turned eighteen years of age in June 2016 and her CIB terminated. On March 25, 2016, Claimant completed a Student’s Statement Regarding School Attendance, wherein she indicated she lives in C~, Georgia, and is in full-time attendance at UCA, located in Hull, Georgia. Claimant indicated UCA is a high school program. Claimant reported her last school year at UCA began in August 2015 and ended in June 2016. Her new school year at UCA began in August 2016 and she expects to graduate from UCA in June 2017. Claimant also reported she attends UCA thirty-five or more hours per week. Claimant indicated she is not married or disabled and no employer pays her to attend school.

R~, the headmaster of UCA, completed and signed the Certification of School Official, indicating that the information Claimant provided was correct. R~ also indicated that UCA’s course of study lasts at least thirteen weeks. In a follow-up interview on August 2, 2016, A~, an Administrative Assistant at UCA, told the Social Security Administration field office that UCA is recognized as a private school by the Georgia Department of Education (DOE). A~ stated that UCA is required to report information to each local public school district that has residents enrolled at UCA, including a list of names, ages, and residences of each enrollee. This reporting is conducted annually at the beginning of each school year. Additionally, she confirmed that UCA’s building and facilities meet all required health and safety standards.

UCA’s website states that its high school program is accredited and leads to a standard high school diploma. See High School Program, http://unionchristianacademy.us/academics/high-school (last visited Aug. 1, 2016). Students may earn either a college preparatory or a career and technology diploma. Twenty-six units of credit are required for graduation in each program. See id. The UCA Student Handbook describes UCA as a nonprofit educational ministry incorporated as a 501(c)(3) organization as defined by the Internal Revenue Service and the state of Georgia. See Student Handbook, 2016-2017, p. 3, http://media.cloversites.com/c4/c427fa69-f1a5-47f5-b6ff-87c33956ef3b/documents/2016_Handbook_Revision__1_.pdf (last visited Aug. 1, 2016). UCA’s high school curriculum includes basic core courses in English and literature, mathematics, social sciences, science, Spanish, and technology, and electives in Bible survey, history of ideas, computer applications, physical education, fine arts, and business math. See id., pp. 19-20.

The Georgia DOE’s website lists UCA as a private school for fiscal year 2016. See

Georgia Dep’t of Ed. Private School Survey Application Data Collection System,

https://app3.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/psc_pack_mainmenu.pvsch_list_public?p_sort=1 (last visited Aug. 2, 2016).

DISCUSSION

To be eligible for CIB on the earnings record of an individual who dies fully or currently insured, an individual, who is eighteen years of age or older and not disabled, must be a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(B)(i), (d)(7)(A); see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2016);[10 1] Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001.A. An individual may qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student” if he or she attends an educational institution, i.e., a school that provides elementary or secondary education (twelfth grade or below) as determined under the law of the State in which the school is located. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (d)(7)(C); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (e); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.200.A.

An individual also must attend school full time to qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.300.A. An individual attends full time if he or she is attending an educational institution and meets both State and Federal standards for full-time attendance. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300.A. An individual meets the State standards of full-time attendance if a qualifying educational institution considers the individual to be a full-time student based on the institution’s standards and practices. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.300.B; POMS RS 00205.350.C.1. An individual meets the Federal standards if he or she is scheduled to attend school at the rate of at least twenty hours per week, enrolled in a noncorrespondence course, and enrolled in a course of study lasting at least thirteen weeks. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300.C.

Educational Institution under Georgia Law

Because UCA is located in H~, Georgia, we look to Georgia law to determine whether UCA is a school that provides elementary or secondary education. See Act § 202(d)(7)(C)(i); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); POMS RS 00205.200.A. Georgia’s compulsory education law recognizes three types of educational entities: public schools, private schools, and home study programs. See Ga. Code. Ann. §§ 20-2-690(a), 20-2-690.1 (West 2016).[11 2] The website for the Madison County School District, the county in which the city of Hull is located, does not list UCA as a public school. See http://www.madison.k12.ga.us/ (last visited Aug. 1, 2016). Thus, we must determine whether UCA is a private school under Georgia law.

The evidence shows that UCA qualifies as a private school. Under Georgia law, a “private school” is an institution that meets the following requirements: (1) its primary purpose is to provide education; (2) it is privately controlled and operates on a continuing basis; (3) it provides instruction for the equivalent of 180 days of education with each school day consisting of at least 4 and 1/2 hours; (4) it provides a basic educational program, which includes reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science; (5) it meets certain requirements to report information to each local public school district that has residents enrolled, including a list of the name, age, and residence of each enrollee; and (6) any building used by the institution for private school purposes meets all health and safety standards. See Ga. Code. Ann. § 20-2-690(b). Initially, it is noted that the Georgia DOE website lists UCA as a private school for fiscal year 2016. See Georgia Dep’t of Ed. Private School Survey Application Data Collection System,

https://app3.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/psc_pack_mainmenu.pvsch_list_public?p_sort=1 (last visited Aug. 2, 2016). Additionally, the evidence presented demonstrates that UCA meets the requirements regarding its primary purpose, its control by a private entity and continuous operation, the length of instruction, and basic educational content. See Ga. Code. Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(1)-(4). According to the information provided by UCA administrative assistant A~ in a follow-up interview on August 2, 2016, UCA also meets the requirements of reporting enrollee information to the local public school district and using a building that meets all health and safety standards. See Ga. Code. Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(5), (b)(6). Accordingly, the evidence establishes that UCA is an educational institution for determining whether Claimant is a full-time elementary or secondary school student. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (d)(7)(C); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.200.A.

Full-Time Attendance

The evidence also shows that Claimant’s study through UCA satisfies the requirements for full-time attendance. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300.A. Claimant meets the State full-time attendance standards because UCA’s headmaster indicated Claimant is a full-time student based on UCA’s standards and practices. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.300.B; POMS RS 00205.350.B, C.1. Claimant meets the Federal standards for full-time attendance because she reported that she is scheduled to attend UCA at least twenty hours per week, which UCA’s headmaster confirmed; the evidence does not indicate that UCA’s courses are correspondence courses; and UCA’s headmaster indicated that UCA’s course of study lasts at least thirteen weeks. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300.C.

CONCLUSION

UCA is an educational institution under Georgia law. Further, Claimant is in full-time attendance based on her instruction through UCA.

Sincerely,

Mary Ann Sloan

Regional Chief Counsel

By: Richard V. Blake

Assistant Regional Counsel

G. PR 16-163 Eligibility for Child’s Insurance Benefits as a Full-Time Elementary or Secondary School Student Based on Attendance at Foothills Charter High School

Date: July 25, 2016

1. Syllabus

As a public charter school, Foothills Education Charter High School is an educational institution offering secondary education under Georgia law.

2. Opinion

QUESTION

You asked whether Foothills Education Charter High School (Foothills) is a Georgia educational institution for determining if the claimant, a Georgia resident, qualifies for child’s insurance benefits (CIB) as a full-time elementary or secondary school student. You also asked whether the claimant is in full-time attendance for determining whether she qualifies for CIB as a full-time elementary or secondary school student.

OPINION

Foothills is an educational institution offering secondary education under Georgia law. However, based on the available information, the claimant is not in full-time attendance for determining her eligibility for CIB.

BACKGROUND

Foothills’ website states that Foothills is a charter high school approved by the Georgia Department of Education and the State Charter Schools Commission of Georgia. Foothills, What is Foothills? <http://www.foothillscharter.org/about/about_foothills/> (last visited July 8, 2016). Foothills’ website indicates that it offers “a full range of high school courses in a convenient, flexible, self-paced format” using both textbook and web-based instruction. Id. All courses are mastery-based, so the students can take as much time as needed to successfully complete a course. Id. Accredited teachers facilitate all courses, oversee the students, and are available to tutor the students or answer any questions. Foothills, FAQ, <http://www.foothillscharter.org/about/f_a_q/> (last visited July 8, 2016). Foothills is open from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Id. To be considered full-time, a student must attend Foothills for 20 hours a week. Id.

The Georgia Department of Education’s website establishes that Foothills is a State-chartered high school. Ga. Dep’t of Ed., Approved Charter Schools, <http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/External-Affairs-and-Policy/Charter-Schools/Pages/Approved-Charter-Schools.aspx> (last visited July 8, 2016).

According to the information provided, G~ (Claimant) applied for CIB on the earnings record of B~. Claimant completed an unsigned Student’s Statement Regarding School Attendance form, indicating she was attending Foothills for the 2015-2016 school year. Claimant did not answer the question regarding full-time attendance, but stated she is scheduled to attend Foothills for 14.75 hours per week and expects to graduate in May 2018. Claimant further reported she is not disabled, married, or receiving payment from an employer to attend school. Claimant provided a Georgia mailing address on the school attendance form. The Foothills’ registrar completed and signed the Certification by School Official page, certifying that the information Claimant provided was correct according to Foothills’ records, that Foothills operated on a yearly basis, and that Foothills’ course of study would last at least 13 weeks.

DISCUSSION

To be eligible for CIB on the earnings record of an insured person who is entitled to old-age or disability insurance benefits or who has died, a claimant who is 18 years or older and not disabled must be a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” See Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(B)(i); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2016)[12 1]; Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001.A. To qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student,” a claimant must attend an educational institution, i.e., a school that provides elementary or secondary education (twelfth grade or below) as determined under the law of the State in which the school is located. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (d)(7)(C); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (e); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.200.A. Unless there is evidence to the contrary, the Social Security Administration assumes public high schools located in the United States are educational institutions. POMS RS 00205.250.B.1.

A claimant also must attend school full time to qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.300.A. A claimant is in full-time attendance if he or she is attending an educational institution and meets both State and Federal standards for full-time attendance. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300.A. A claimant meets the State standards if the school considers the claimant to be full-time based on the school’s standards and practices for day students. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.300.B; POMS RS 00205.350.C.1. A claimant meets the Federal standards if he or she is scheduled to attend school at the rate of 20 hours per week, enrolled in a noncorrespondence course, and enrolled in a course of study that is of at least 13 weeks duration. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300.C.

Educational Institution Under Georgia Law

Foothills’ website indicates it is located in several locations in Georgia. See Foothills, What is Foothills?, <http://www.foothillscharter.org/about/about_foothills> (last visited July 8, 2016). Therefore, we look to Georgia law to determine whether Foothills provides elementary or secondary education. Georgia’s compulsory education law recognizes three types of educational entities: public schools; private schools; and home study programs. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(a) (West 2016).[13 2] Georgia law provides for the creation of charter schools. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-2060. A charter school is a public school that operates under the terms of a charter. Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-2062(3). A state-chartered special school is a charter school that has been approved by the State Board of Education. Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-2062(1), (16). A charter school is a public, nonsectarian, nonreligious, nonprofit school that cannot be home based but may use computer and internet based instruction for students in a virtual or remote setting. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-2065(b)(1). Once the State Board of Education approves a charter, the school must meet the requirements of its charter, as well as any other applicable state law requirements such as reporting and accountability requirements. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-2065.

The Georgia Department of Education’s website establishes that Foothills is a state-chartered public high school. Ga. Dep’t of Ed., Approved Charter Schools, <http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/External-Affairs-and-Policy/Charter-Schools/Pages/Approved-Charter-Schools.aspx> (last visited July 8, 2016). Accordingly, Foothills is a Georgia public school and an educational institution under Georgia law. See Act § 202(d)(7)(C)(i); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.200.A; POMS RS 00205.250.B.1.

Full-Time Attendance

You have also asked whether Claimant’s study through Foothills satisfies the requirements for full-time attendance. Claimant indicated she would attend Foothills for 14.75 hours per week but did not answer whether she was in full-time attendance. A Foothills registrar official certified that Claimant’s statements were correct and that Foothills’ course of study was at least 13 weeks in duration. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b). Under Foothills’ own policy, a student must attend 20 hours per week to be considered full-time. See Foothills, FAQ, <http://www.foothillscharter.org/about/f_a_q/> (last visited July 8, 2016). Because Foothills would not consider attendance for 14.75 hours per week to be full-time, the evidence submitted does not indicate that Claimant’s attendance meets the state standards for full-time attendance. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.300.B; POMS RS 00205.350.C.1. Likewise, Claimant does not meet the Federal standards for full-time attendance because she is attending Foothills for less than 20 hours per week. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(c); POMS RS 00205.300.C.

CONCLUSION

As a public charter school, Foothills is an educational institution under Georgia law. However, Claimant does not meet the State or Federal standards for full-time attendance for determining her eligibility for CIB.

Sincerely,

Mary Ann Sloan

Regional Chief Counsel

By: Rebecca Ringham

Assistant Regional Counsel

H. PR 16-126 Status of Graduation Achievement Charter High School as an Educational Institution in Georgia

Date: April 28, 2016

1. Syllabus

Graduation Achievement Charter High School (GACHS) is an educational institution under Georgia law. It was renamed on August 29, 2015 from Provost Academy Georgia, the name indicated in a previous published precedent (See POMS PR 08205.012 PR 13-034, Dec. 18, 2012). The institution remains in full force and effect.

2. Opinion

QUESTION

You asked whether Graduation Achievement Charter High School (GACHS), an entity located in Georgia, is an educational institution. You also asked whether the beneficiary, a Georgia resident, is in full-time attendance at GACHS for determining if she continues to be eligible for child’s insurance benefits (CIB) as a full-time student.

OPINION

GACHS is an educational institution offering secondary education under Georgia law for determining the beneficiary’s continuing eligibility for CIB. The beneficiary also is in full-time attendance at GACHS for determining if she continues to be eligible for CIB as a full-time secondary school student.

BACKGROUND

W~ (Beneficiary) reached eighteen years of age in February 2016. Beneficiary is receiving CIB on the earnings record of her father, W2~. In a Student Statement Regarding School Attendance, Form SSA-1372, Beneficiary reported she is a full-time student at GACHS. Beneficiary reported she was in a high school program and scheduled to attend 30 hours a week. Beneficiary stated her school year began in August 2015 and ends in June 2016 and that she expects to graduate in June 2018. J~, an attendance protocol manager at GACHS, completed the Certification by School Official page of Form SSA-1372 on March XX, 2016, and indicated that Beneficiary’s reported information is correct. J~ also indicated that Beneficiary’s course of study would last at least thirteen weeks and that the school operates on a quarterly/semester basis with no reenrollment required.

According to its website, GACHS is a virtual tuition-free public charter high school. See Graduation Achievement Charter High School (visited April 18, 2016), <http://www.gradgeorgia.com/>. GACHS opened July 2012 under the name Provost Academy Georgia. See About GACHA, Charter Contract (visited April 18, 2016) <http://www.gradgeorgia.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Provost_with-Amendment20151.pdf>. GACHS is accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI) and by the Georgia Accrediting Commission. See About GACHA, Letter From the Superintendent (visited on April 18, 2016), <http://www.gradgeorgia.com/about-gachs/letter-from-the-superintendent/>. GACHS is open to students who have not completed a high school diploma or GED and are between 14 and 20 years old. See GACHS, Enrollment Requirements (visited April 18, 2016) <http://www.gradgeorgia.com/graduate-with-your-diploma/qualifications/>.

Students work remotely and can obtain assistance at Graduation Achievement Centers of Georgia in Atlanta, Macon, Augusta, and Savannah. See About GACHA, Letter From the Superintendent (visited April 18, 2016), <http://www.gradgeorgia.com/about-gachs/letter-from-the-superintendent/>. The Graduation Achievement Centers of Georgia are “designed to provide additional academic support to students at high risk of not finishing high school.” Id. GACHS also provides access to “certified teachers for live online tutoring from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with additional days and hours by appointment.” Id.

The List of Georgia Approved Charter Schools on the Georgia Department of Education’s website identifies GACHS as a statewide virtual, state charter school.14 See Ga. Dep’t of Ed., Charter Schools (visited April 18, 2016) <http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/External-Affairs-and-Policy/Charter-Schools/Pages/default.aspx> (see link to List of Georgia Approved Charter Schools, 2015-2016). The list of Approved Charter Schools on the Georgia Department of Education’s website also includes GACHS (Provost Academy) as an approved charter school. See Ga. Dep’t of Ed., Approved Charter Schools (visited April 18, 2016) <http://www.gadoe.org/External-Affairs-and-Policy/Charter-Schools/Pages/Approved-Charter-Schools.aspx>.

DISCUSSION

To be eligible for CIB on the earnings record of an insured person entitled to old-age or disability insurance benefits, or who has died, a beneficiary who is eighteen years or older and not disabled must be a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” See Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(B)(i), (d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2015)15 ; Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001(A). A beneficiary may qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student” if he or she attends an “educational institution,” i.e., a school that provides elementary or secondary education (twelfth grade or below) according to the law of the state or jurisdiction where the school is located. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (d)(7)(C); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (e); POMS RS 00205.001(A); POMS RS 00205.200(A). Unless there is evidence to the contrary, the Agency assumes public high schools located in the United States are educational institutions. See POMS RS 00205.250(B)(1).

A beneficiary also must attend school full time to qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.201(A); POMS RS 00205.300(A). A beneficiary attends full time if he or she is attending an educational institution and meets both state and federal standards for full-time attendance. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (c); POMS RS 00205.295(B); POMS RS 00205.300(A). Similarly, a beneficiary attending an online school may be considered a full-time student if the online school is consistent with the law of the state in which the online school is located (i.e., an educational institution), and meets both state and federal standards for full-time attendance. See POMS RS 00205.295(B); POMS RS 00205.300.A. A beneficiary meets the state standards if a qualifying educational institution considers the beneficiary to be full-time based on the institution’s standards and practices. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.300(B); POMS RS 00205.350(C)(1). A beneficiary meets the Federal standards if he or she is scheduled to attend school at least twenty hours per week, enrolled in a non-correspondence course, and enrolled in a course of study of at least thirteen weeks’ duration. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300(C). The regulations and POMS do not appear to define “noncorrespondence course” or “correspondence course.” However, the POMS defines “correspondence school” as “a school that teaches by mailing lessons and exercises to the student. Upon completion, the student returns the exercises to the school for grading.” POMS RS 00205.330(A). “Generally, a student is not in full-time attendance based on correspondence school courses even if the correspondence school meets the definition of an [educational institution].” POMS RS 00205.330(B).

Educational Institution under Georgia Law

We determined in a prior opinion that Provost Academy Georgia qualifies as an educational institution under Georgia law, the state in which it is located. See POMS PR 08205.012 (PR 13-034, Dec. 18, 2012). Provost Academy Georgia changed its name to GACHS on August 29, 2015, but otherwise the institution and its charter with the state remain and full force and effect. See About GACHA, Charter Contract (visited April 18, 2016) <http://www.gradgeorgia.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Provost_with-Amendment20151.pdf> at p. 21. No information from Beneficiary or on GACHA’s website warrants a change from the conclusion in our prior opinion regarding GACHA’s predecessor Provost Academy Georgia. Therefore, Beneficiary can qualify as a full-time secondary student based on her enrollment at GACHS.

Full-Time Attendance

Beneficiary reported that she is scheduled to attend GACHS 30 hours per week. J~, an attendance protocol manager at GACHS, certified that Beneficiary’s statements were correct and indicated GACHS’s course of study was at least thirteen weeks in duration.

The information available indicates Beneficiary's studies through GACHS are noncorrespondence courses. According to the GACHS Parent and Student Handbook, GACHS has web-based interactive courses and tutoring where students interact with teachers. See Graduation Achievement Charter High School Parent and Student Handbook, p. 10 (visited April 20, 2016) <http://www.gradgeorgia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/GACHS_2015-16_Parent_Student_Handbook.pdf>. Students are able to participate in Live Learning Sessions and Live Peer Interactions. Id. at p. 14, 19. Thus, the available information indicates studies through GACHS are noncorrespondence courses.

Thus, the information provided indicates Beneficiary meets the Federal full-time attendance standards. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300(C). The evidence also indicates Beneficiary meets the state attendance requirements because J~ certified that Beneficiary’s attendance is full-time under GACHS’s standards and because, as an approved public charter school, GACHS’s attendance standards comply with Georgia law. See POMS RS 00205.295, POMS RS 00205.300, POMS RS 00205.350. Based on this information, Beneficiary is in full-time attendance as a secondary school student for determining her continuing eligibility for CIB. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c).

CONCLUSION

As a public charter school, GACHS is an educational institution under Georgia law. Also, Beneficiary’s attendance at GACHS meets both federal and state standards for full-time attendance. Thus, the information provided establishes Beneficiary is a full-time secondary school student for determining her eligibility for CIB.

Sincerely,

Mary Ann Sloan

Regional Chief Counsel

By: Jennifer McMahon

Assistant Regional Counsel

I. PR 15-110 Eligibility for Child’s Insurance Benefits as a Full-Time Elementary or Secondary School Student Based on Enrollment in Kentucky Downs Day School

DATE: April 10, 2015

1. SYLLABUS

Kentucky Downs Day School (KDDS), located in Macon, Georgia, is not listed on the Bibb County School District’s website as a public school. The evidence also does not show that KDDS is a private school. Georgia law requires a private school to:

  • Provide education;

  • Be privately controlled and operate on a continuing basis;

  • Provide instruction equal to 180 days of education with each school day at least 4 ½ hours long;

  • Provide a basic educational program that includes reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science;

  • Report to each local public school district a list of the name, age, and residence of each enrollee; and

  • Meet all health and safety standards in the building used by the school.

The evidence does not establish that KDDS meets all of these requirements, and the evidence does not establish that KDDS is an educational institution under Georgia law as either a public or private school.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

For determining a claimant’s eligibility for child’s insurance benefits (CIB) as a full-time student, you asked whether Kentucky Downs Day School (KDDS), an entity located in Georgia, is an educational institution or if the claimant’s instruction through KDDS qualifies as home schooling under Georgia law. You also asked if the claimant is in full-time attendance based on her instruction through KDDS.

OPINION

KDDS is not an educational institution under Georgia law and the claimant is not a home-school student in accordance with Georgia law. The claimant also does not meet Georgia or Federal standards for full-time attendance.

BACKGROUND

According to the information provided, J~(Claimant) received CIB on the earnings record of decedent H~, the number holder. Claimant turned eighteen years of age in September 2014 and her CIB terminated. In February 2015, Claimant completed a Student’s Statement Regarding School Attendance, wherein she indicated she lives in Macon, Georgia, and attends an educational program full time at or through KDDS, also located in Macon. Claimant indicated KDDS is a home school program. Claimant reported the school year at KDDS began on August 1, 2014, and ends on May 16, 2015. Claimant also reported she attends KDDS thirty-five to forty hours per week and expects to graduate from high school in May 2015. Claimant indicated she is not married or disabled and no employer pays her to attend school. L~, Ph.D., administrator and teacher at KDDS, completed and signed the Certification of School Official and indicated the information Claimant provided was correct. L~ also indicated KDDS’s course of study lasts at least thirteen weeks.

In August 2014, Claimant’s mother completed and signed a Declaration of Intent to Utilize a Home Study Program (Home Study DOI). In an undated letter to the Social Security Administration (SSA), Claimant’s mother stated that when she first removed Claimant from public school, the Bibb County School District approved KDDS for use as a home school program. Claimant’s mother noted that Bibb County School District “no longer has a home school office”; so, she is unable to obtain answers from the school district regarding Claimant’s home schooling.

On November 20, 2014, SSA contacted Georgia Department of Education (DOE) Program Manager A~ to determine whether the Georgia DOE had any record of Claimant’s Home Study DOI. A~ responded that neither Claimant nor her mother were on file with the Georgia DOE.

Claimant’s transcript from KDDS shows she completed classes in English, French, mathematics, history, science, and various other subjects at the ninth to eleventh grade levels, and is scheduled to complete classes in the same basic subjects at the twelfth grade level in the 2014-2015 school year. A copy of the KDDS College Preparatory Graduation Requirements (curriculum) indicates that the curriculum was adapted from Mount de Sales Academy for use with Mount de Sales Southern Association of Colleges & Secondary Schools (SACS) and Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) Accredited Curriculum.16 The curriculum consists of a total of twenty-four credit hours, with units for English, mathematics, science, social studies, a foreign language, and various other subjects. The curriculum gives summaries of the material covered in the individual classes in each subject area. Claimant also submitted a document showing that L~ received a graduate degree in science education.

Claimant’s mother’s undated letter to SSA indicates Claimant meets with L~ at her house five hours per day, Monday through Thursday, and does assignments online on Fridays. A Home Study Program Monthly Attendance Report dated September 2014 indicates Claimant attended home school eight days in August 2014.

A score-sheet from ACT Student Web Services shows Claimant took the ACT test in June 2014.

DISCUSSION

To be eligible for CIB on the earnings record of an individual who dies fully or currently insured, an individual who is eighteen years of age or older and not disabled must be a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(B)(i), (d)(7)(A); see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2014); 17 Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001.A. An individual may qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student” if he or she attends an educational institution, i.e., a school that provides elementary or secondary education (twelfth grade or below) as determined under the law of the State in which the school is located. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (d)(7)(C); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (e); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.200.A. An individual also may qualify as an elementary or secondary school student if he or she receives instruction in elementary or secondary education at home under the home school law of the State or other jurisdiction where the individual resides. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1); POMS RS 00205.275.A. Additionally, an individual may be considered an elementary or secondary school student if he or she is in an independent study program administered by the local school or school district in accordance with the law of the State or jurisdiction in which he or she resides. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(2); POMS RS 00205.285.An individual also must attend school full time to qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.300.A. An individual attends full time if he or she is attending an educational institution and meets both State and Federal standards for full-time attendance. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (c); POMS RS 00205.295.B; POMS RS 00205.300.A. Similarly, an individual attending an on-line school may be considered a full time student if the on-line school is consistent with the law of the State in which the on-line school is located (i.e., an educational institution), and meets both State and Federal standards for full-time attendance. See POMS RS 00205.295.B; POMS RS 00205.300.A. An individual meets the State standards of full-time attendance if a qualifying educational institution considers the individual to be a full-time student based on the institution’s standards and practices. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.300.B; POMS RS 00205.350.C.1. An individual meets the Federal standards if he or she is scheduled to attend school at the rate of at least twenty hours per week, enrolled in a noncorrespondence course, and enrolled in a course of study lasting at least thirteen weeks. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300.C. A home schooled individual must meet the Federal standards for full-time attendance and meet the home-school requirements of the State in which the home school is located. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.275.B. Attendance for a student in an independent study program must also meet the Federal full-time attendance requirements, which one accomplishes by combining the number of hours at a school facility with the agreed upon number of hours in independent study. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(c); POMS RS 00205.285.B.

Educational Institution under Georgia Law

Because KDDS is located in Macon, Georgia, we look to Georgia law to determine whether KDDS is a school that provides elementary or secondary education. See Act § 202(d)(7)(C)(i); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); POMS RS 00205.200.A. Georgia law mandates attendance in a public school, private school, or home study program for children between their sixth and sixteenth birthdays. See Ga. Code. Ann. § 20-2-690.1 (West 2015).18 The Bibb County School District’s website does not list KDDS as a public school. See http://www.bcsdk12.net/cms/lib01/GA01000598/Centricity/Domain/1/20142015%20School%20District%20Directory%20w%20Alternatives.pdf (last visited Mar. 31, 2015). Thus, we must determine whether KDDS is a private school. 19

The evidence does not show that KDDS is a private school. Under Georgia law, a “private school” is an institution that meets the following requirements:

  1. its primary purpose is to provide education;

  2. it is privately controlled and operates on a continuing basis;

  3. it provides instruction for the equivalent of 180 days of education with each school day consisting of at least 4 and 1/2 hours;

  4. it provides a basic educational program, which includes reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science;

  5. it meets certain requirements to report information to each local public school district that has residents enrolled, including a list of the name, age, and residence of each enrollee; and

  6. any building used by the institution for private school purposes meets all health and safety standards.

See Ga. Code. Ann. § 20-2-690(b).

Based on the evidence, it appears KDDS may meet the requirements regarding length of instruction and basic educational content. See Ga. Code. Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(3), (b)(4). However, the evidence does not show whether KDDS meets any of the other requirements to be a private school under Georgia law. In particular, the evidence does not show whether KDDS:

(1) reports enrollee information to the local public school district, or

(2) uses a building that meets all health and safety standards. See Ga. Code. Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(5), (b)(6). Accordingly, the evidence does not establish that KDDS is an educational institution for determining whether Claimant is a full-time elementary or secondary school student. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (d)(7)(C); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.200.A.

Home Study Program and Independent Study under Georgia Law

Because Claimant is a resident of Georgia, we consider whether she is a home school student under Georgia law. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1); POMS RS 00205.275.B. Under Georgia law, parents or guardians may teach their children in a home study program meeting the following requirements:

  1. the parent, parents, or guardian must submit a DOI to use a home study program to the DOE within 30 days after the establishment of a home study program and by September 1 annually thereafter;

  2. the DOI must include certain enrollment and address information;

  3. the parent or guardian providing instruction must possess at least a high school diploma or general educational development diploma (GED), although the parent or guardian may employ a tutor who holds a high school diploma or GED to provide instruction;

  4. the home study program must provide a basic academic educational program, defined to include reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science;

  5. the home study program must provide instruction each 12 months equivalent to 180 school days per year with each school day consisting of at least 4 and 1/2 school hours, unless the child is physically unable to comply;

  6. students must be subject to an appropriate nationally standardized testing program administered in consultation with a person trained to administer such tests at least every 3 years beginning in third grade; and

  7. the home study program instructor must write an annual progress report.

Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c).

The child’s parent or guardian has authority to execute any document required by law, rule, regulation, or policy to evidence the enrollment of a child in a home study program, the student’s full-time or part-time status, the student’s grades, or any other required educational information. Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(6). 20 Claimant does not qualify as a home school student under Georgia law because her mother did not submit a Home Study DOI to the Georgia DOE. 21 See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(1). In November 2014, SSA asked Georgia DOE’s Home Study Program Manager A~ whether the Georgia DOE had a record of Claimant’s Home Study DOI. A~ responded that the Georgia DOE did not have a record of Claimant or her mother in its files. Because Claimant’s mother has not submitted a Home Study DOI to the Georgia DOE, Claimant is not instructed in elementary or secondary education at home in accordance with Georgia law for purposes of CIB. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1); POMS RS 00205.275.B.Claimant’s instruction through KDDS otherwise appears to satisfy the requirements of a home study program under Georgia law. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c). The evidence indicates L~ has a graduate degree in science education, and is therefore qualified to tutor Claimant. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(3). According to KDDS’s curriculum and Claimant’s transcript, Claimant receives instruction in a basic academic education, including reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(4). Claimant reported, and L~ confirmed, that KDDS’s school year began on August 1, 2014, and ends on May 16, 2015, therefore lasting 198 days excluding weekends and public holidays, which is 18 days more than the statutory requirement. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(5). Additionally, Claimant’s mother indicates Claimant attends school at L~’s house Monday to Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., with assignments online on Fridays, and Claimant indicates she is scheduled to attend between thirty-five and forty hours per week at school. Thus, Claimant attends at least four and one-half hours of school per school day. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(5). While it is unclear whether Claimant’s June 2014 taking of the ACT test satisfies the requirement of triennial standardized testing, she may still be subjected to appropriate testing before the end of her twelfth grade year.22 See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(7). Finally, Claimant’s transcript indicates L~ writes an annual assessment of Claimant’s academic progress in each of her areas of study. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(8). Regardless, as discussed, Claimant is not a home school student under Georgia law because her mother did not submit a Home Study DOI to the Georgia DOE.

Moreover, Claimant’s participation in KDDS does not appear to satisfy the independent study provisions of the regulations. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(2). Independent study is a method of alternative secondary education used in some States. POMS RS 00205.285.A. Local education agencies, such as high schools or school districts, run independent study programs. Id. Independent study programs are run “in accordance with specific State law requirements, and the credits earned count toward high school graduation.” Id. The programs involve periodic teacher contact, direction, and testing on campus, with the student making academic progress generally through independent study at home. Id. Nothing in the information provided suggests any local school or school district runs KDDS. As such, Claimant’s participation in KDDS does not seem to satisfy the independent study requirements.

Finally, because Claimant’s study through KDDS does not qualify as either an educational institution or a home study program under Georgia law, Claimant does not satisfy the requirements for full-time attendance. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (c); POMS RS 00205.295.B; POMS RS 00205.300.A.

CONCLUSION

Claimant has not demonstrated KDDS is an educational institution under Georgia law. Additionally, Claimant has not demonstrated that she is participating in a home study program or independent study program in compliance with Georgia law. Thus, she is not a full-time elementary or secondary school student based on her instruction through KDDS.

Sincerely ,
Mary Ann Sloan

Regional Chief Counsel

By: Owen Keegan
Assistant Regional Counsel

J. PR 14-168 Eligibility for Child’s Insurance Benefits as a Full-Time Elementary or Secondary School Student Based on Enrollment in Ashworth College a.k.a. James Madison High School

DATE: September 11, 2014

1. SYLLABUS

James Madison High School (JMHS), located in Norcross, Georgia, does not require a certain number of hours to be spent on studies, and no evidence shows that it keeps attendance records or complies with the reporting requirements of Georgia law. JMHS is, therefore, not an educational institution under Georgia law, and the claimant cannot qualify for benefits as a full-time student based on her attendance there.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

For determining a claimant’s eligibility for child’s insurance benefits (CIB) as a full-time student, you asked whether the claimant’s attendance at Ashworth College a.k.a. James Madison High School (JMHS), an entity located in Georgia, satisfies the requirements for full-time attendance at an educational institution where the claimant is a North Carolina resident.

OPINION

Claimant does not meet the federal standards for full-time attendance in accordance with the requirements of North Carolina law.

BACKGROUND

According to the information provided, Kayla (Claimant) received CIB on the earnings record of her father, Donnie, the deceased number holder. Claimant seeks CIB beyond the age of eighteen as a full-time student after the Social Security Administration (SSA) terminated her CIB. Claimant provided a Student Statement Regarding School Attendance, in which she indicated she lives in Elkin, North Carolina, and attends JMHS twenty hours per week. Claimant indicated JMHS is a high school program located in Norcross, Georgia, and that she had attended the same school the previous school year. Claimant reported she expected to graduate in July 2015; was not married or disabled; did not expect to earn more than $15,480 in 2014; and was not being paid to attend school.

An Academic Coordinator with JMHS sent SSA a letter stating Claimant enrolled at the school on September 21, 2012, was an active student in good standing, and was expected to graduate in July 2015. The Academic Coordinator also indicated JMHS’s course of study was at least thirteen weeks in duration. The Academic Coordinator stated JMHS did not classify students as full or part time and stated students work at their own pace and were not required to spend any set number of hours on their studies. This information conforms information from JMHS’s website. See Online Learning Experience – JMHS, http://www.jmhs.com/why-jmhs/learning-experience; Homeschooling High School – Homeschool Online – JMHS, http://www.jmhs.com/why-jmhs/learning-experience (last visited Aug. 29, 2014). The Academic Coordinator further reported that a student’s parent has the responsibility to monitor and verify hours of attendance if applicable home school laws require such information . According to JMHS’s website, after enrollment, students access their courses through an online student portal where they receive and upload their assignments and complete assessments and examinations, which are then computer scored or hand graded by teachers. See Online Learning Experience - JMHS, http://www.jmhs.com/why-jmhs/learning-experience (last visited Aug. 27, 2014).

DISCUSSION

To be eligible for CIB on the earnings record of an individual who dies fully or currently insured, an individual who is eighteen years or older and not disabled must be a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(B)(i), (d)(7)(A); see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2014); 23 Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001(A). An individual may qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student,” if he or she attends an educational institution, i.e., a school that provides elementary or secondary education (twelfth grade or below) according to the law of the State or jurisdiction where the school is located. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (d)(7)(C); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (e); POMS RS 00205.001(A); POMS RS 00205.200(A). An individual also may qualify as an elementary or secondary school student if he or she receives instruction in elementary or secondary education at home under the home school law of the State or other jurisdiction where the individual resides. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1); POMS RS 00205.275(A). Additionally, an individual may be considered an elementary or secondary school student if he or she is in an independent study program administered by the local school or school district in accordance with the law of the State or jurisdiction in which he or she resides. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(2); POMS RS 00205.285.

An individual also must attend school full time to qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.001(A); POMS RS 00205.300(A). An individual is in full-time attendance if he or she is attending an educational institution and meets both State and Federal standards for full-time attendance. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (c); POMS RS 00205.295(B); POMS RS 00205.300(A). Similarly, a claimant attending an on-line school is in full-time attendance if he or she is attending an on-line school consistent with the law of the State in which the on-line school is located (i.e., an educational institution), and meets both State and Federal standards for full-time attendance. See POMS RS 00205.295(B); POMS RS 00205.300(A). An individual meets the State standards if the school considers the beneficiary to be a full-time student based on the school’s standards and practices. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.300(B); POMS RS 00205.350(C)(1). An individual meets the Federal standards if he or she is scheduled to attend school at the rate of twenty hours per week, enrolled in a noncorrespondence course, and enrolled in a course of study that is of at least thirteen weeks duration. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300(C). A home schooled individual must meet the federal standards for full-time attendance and meet the home-school requirements of the State in which the home school is located. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.275(B). Attendance for a student in an independent study program must also meet the Federal full-time attendance requirements, which one accomplishes by combining the number of hours at a school facility with the agreed upon number of hours in independent study. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(c); POMS RS 00205.285(B).

Educational Institution Under Georgia Law

As noted in the request for an opinion, a prior Regional Chief Counsel opinion found JMHS does not qualify as an educational institution in Georgia, the state in which it is located. See Program Operations Manual System (POMS) PR 07905.012 (PR 13-024). The previous determination was based on the facts that JMHS does not require any set number of hours to be spent on studies and that there is no evidence that JMHS keeps attendance logs or complies with the reporting requirements of State law. See id.; Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(3), (5) (West 2014). Claimant has provided nothing to change that determination. Therefore, Claimant cannot qualify as a full-time elementary or secondary student based on her enrollment at JMHS.

Home Schooling and Independent Study under North Carolina Law

Because Claimant resides in North Carolina, we look to North Carolina law to determine whether Claimant is home schooled. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1), (b); POMS RS 00205.275(A)-(B). Under North Carolina law, a home school is a nonpublic school consisting of the children of not more than two families or households, where the parents, legal guardians, or members of either household determine the scope and sequence of instruction, provide academic instruction, and determine additional sources of academic instruction. See N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 115C-563(a) (West 2014); 24 DNPE Home School Requirements, Reminders and Recommendations, http://www.ncdnpe.org/hhh103.aspx (last visited Aug. 29, 2014). Those individuals desiring to home school a child must submit a Notice of Intent to Operate a Home School to the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education. See N. C. Div. of Non-Public Educ., Home School Guidebook, 2, http://www.ncdnpe.org/documents/HomeSchoolGuideBook.pdf (last visited Aug. 27, 2014); N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. §§ 115C-552, 115C-560. Home schools must perform nationally standardized tests or other nationally standardized equivalent measurements annually, which must measure achievement in English grammar, reading, spelling, and mathematics. See id.N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 115C-564 (citing N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. §§ 115C-549, 115C-557). Additionally, the persons providing academic instruction in a home school are required to hold at least a high school diploma or its equivalent. See id.

Furthermore, North Carolina home schools must elect to operate under the qualifications applicable to either private church schools and schools of religious charter or qualified nonpublic schools. See id. § 115C-564. For either type of institution, the school must maintain annual attendance and disease immunization records for each pupil enrolled and regularly attending classes. See id. §§ 115C-548, 115C-556, 115C-565. Therefore, home schools must comply with these requirements as well.

Nothing in the information provided suggests Claimant takes annual standardized tests or nationally standardized equivalent measurements as part of her JMHS enrollment or otherwise. JMHS’s Academic Coordinator stated that JMHS does not keep attendance records and Claimant has not shown that anyone keeps her attendance and immunization records. Therefore, the information provided does not establish that Claimant is home schooled in accordance with North Carolina law. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1); POMS RS 00205.275(A).

Moreover, Claimant’s participation in JMHS does not appear to satisfy the independent study provisions of the regulations. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(2). Independent study is a method of alternative secondary education used in some States. POMS RS 00205.285(A). Local education agencies, such as high schools or school districts, run independent study programs. Id. Independent study programs are run “in accordance with specific State law requirements, and the credits earned count toward high school graduation.” Id. The programs involve periodic teacher contact, direction, and testing on campus, with the student making academic progress generally through independent study at home. Id. Nothing in the information provided suggests any local school or school district runs the JMHS program. As such, Claimant’s use of the JMHS’s program does not seem to satisfy the independent study requirements.

North Carolina established the North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS), which began operation in the summer of 2007 and allowed students in public schools, Department of Defense schools, and schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to take online courses at no cost. See History?North Carolina Virtual Public School, http://www.ncvps.org/index.php/about-us/history/ (last visited Aug. 26, 2014). The NCVPS also currently offers courses for non-public school students, including home schooled students, private school students, or out-of-state students. See Non-Public School Students?North Carolina Virtual Public School, http://www.ncvps.org/index.php/parents/non-public-school-students/ (last visited Aug. 26, 2014). However, nothing in the information provided suggests Claimant has enrolled in any NCVPS courses. As such, it does not appear that Claimant could meet the independent study provisions of the regulations via the NCVPS either.

CONCLUSION

Claimant has not demonstrated that JMHS is an educational institution under Georgia law. Additionally, Claimant has not demonstrated that she is participating in a home school or independent study program in compliance with North Carolina law. The information provided also does not indicate Claimant meets the standards for full-time attendance at an educational institution.

Sincerely,
Mary Ann Sloan

Regional Chief Counsel

By: Christopher D. Yarbrough
Assistant Regional Counsel

K. PR 13-072 Eligibility for Child’s Insurance Benefits as a Full-Time Elementary or Secondary School Student Based on Enrollment in E. L. High School Home Study Academy

DATE: May 2, 2013

1. SYLLABUS

E. L. High School Home Study Academy (E. L. Academy), is an entity located in Macon, Bibb County, Georgia, that assists students sixteen years or older who are motivated to earn a high school diploma through home study. E. L. Academy does not satisfy the qualifications to be considered an “educational institution” because it is not a school that provides elementary or secondary education (grade 12 or below) as determined under Georgia law. Thus, it is not an educational institution for SSA purposes. Nor does E. L. Academy qualify as a home study program, and the information provided does not suggest claimant was home schooled in accordance with Georgia law. In addition, claimant does not satisfy the federal requirements for full-time attendance.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

For determining a claimant’s eligibility for child’s insurance benefits (CIB) as a full-time student, you asked whether E. L. High School Home Study Academy (E. L. Academy), an entity located in Georgia, qualifies as a school that provides elementary or secondary education and whether the claimant receives instruction in accordance with the home school law of Georgia.

OPINION

E. L. Academy does not qualify as a school that provides elementary or secondary education for determining claimant’s eligibility for CIB as a full-time student, because E. L. Academy is not an elementary or secondary school under Georgia law and claimant is not being instructed in accordance with the home school law of Georgia.

BACKGROUND

N~ (Claimant) received CIB on S~ (NH) earnings record until March 2013, when he turned eighteen years old. NH presently receives old-age insurance benefits.

On January 24, 2013, Claimant completed a Student’s Statement Regarding School Attendance, alleging he was a full-time student at E. L. Academy, located in Macon, Georgia. He indicated it was a home school program and that the school year began January 14, 2013, and ran through January 2014. Claimant reported he had attended Warner Robins High School until January 10, 2013. Claimant reported he was scheduled to attend E. L. Academy forty hours per week. Claimant further reported he is not disabled, married, or receiving payment from an employer to attend school. E~, the director of E. L. Academy (Director) certified Claimant’s responses and indicated the school’s course of study was at least thirteen weeks in duration.

Service Representative (SR) A~ interviewed A1~, Claimant’s mother, regarding the home study program. Claimant’s mother reported she taught Claimant at home, but she did not have a high school diploma or a general educational development equivalency diploma (G.E.D.), so her brother, who had a high school diploma, “helped” daily. Claimant’s mother stated that if Claimant had questions or a problem he would consult with Director. She also reported Claimant studies one subject at a time. Claimant’s mother advised SR A~ that she did not have to submit a declaration of intent to use a home study program and had not done so.

SR A~ contacted both the local school board for Houston County, Claimant’s county of residence, and the Georgia Department of Education, and determined Claimant’s mother did not file a declaration of intent to use a home study program in either location.

SR A~ contacted Director, who indicated E. L. Academy’s home study program was a year- round program. Director advised she took attendance but did not report it to the local school board. She reported she did not administer nationally standardized tests to students over the age of sixteen unless they had not previously been tested and she did not prepare annual progress reports on the students. She advised E. L. Academy’s home study program was accredited.

According to its webpage, found on the ELucas Consulting website, E. L. Academy assists students sixteen years or older who are motivated to earn a high school diploma through home study. ELucas Consulting.com, http://www.elucasconsulting.com/homestudy.html (last visited April 25, 2013). E. L. Academy offers two programs of study, one for individuals needing three or more courses to finish high school, and an eight-week “mini-mester” for students needing only two courses. Id. Students must document 120 hours of work in a course to receive credit. Id. Students record on time sheets the hours spent completing assignments, engaging in volunteer and community service, working on a computer, reading about current events in newspapers, and attending seminars. Id. Students must work on assignments five days per week for at least two hours per day. Id. Students must review newspapers for current events for two hours each day and use the computer at least two hours per day. Id. E. L. Academy’s web page indicates it is accredited by the Georgia Accrediting Commission (GAC). The GAC accredits E. L. Academy as a non-traditional educational center on an annual basis. Georgia Accrediting Commission, http://www.coe.uga.edu/gac/members/Non%20Traditional%20Educational%20Centers%202012-2013.pdf (last visited April 25, 2013).

DISCUSSION

To be eligible for CIB on the earnings record of an individual entitled to old-age insurance benefits, an individual who is eighteen years or older and not disabled must be a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(B)(i), (d)(7)(A); see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2013);All references to the Code of Federal Regulations are to the 2013 version. Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001(A). To qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student,” an individual must attend an educational institution, i.e., a school that provides elementary or secondary education (grade 12 or below) according to the law of the State or jurisdiction where the school is located. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (d)(7)(C); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (e); POMS RS 00205.001(A); POMS RS 00205.200(A). An individual also may qualify as an elementary or secondary school student if he or she receives instruction in secondary education at home under the home school law of the State or other jurisdiction where the Claimant resides. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1); POMS RS 00205.275(A). A home schooled individual must meet the federal standards for full-time attendance and meet the requirements of State law in the State in which the home school is located. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.275(B).

Claimant resides in Warner Robins, Georgia, and E. L. Academy’s program is located in Macon, Bibb County, Georgia. Therefore, we look to Georgia law to determine whether E. L. Academy qualifies as an educational institution. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1); POMS RS 00205.275(B). Georgia recognizes three types of educational entities: public schools, private schools, and home study programs. Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(a) (West 2013). All references to the Georgia Code are to the West 2013 version, unless otherwise indicated. Although Claimant seems to allege he “attends” E. L. Academy while participating in a home school program, determining whether Claimant is in an elementary or secondary school requires analysis of whether E. L. Academy is a public or private school as determined under the law of Georgia and whether the instruction Claimant receives at home is in accordance with the home school law of Georgia. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)..

Public or Private School Under Georgia Law

The Bibb County School District’s website does not list E. L. Academy as a public school. See Bibb County School District, http://bibb.k12.ga.us/school_api.html (last visited May 1, 2013). Therefore, we must determine whether E. L. Academy is a private school.

E. L. Academy is not a private school under Georgia law. A non-religious institution must meet several requirements to be a “private school,” including: (1) the institution’s primary purpose must be education; (2) the institution must be privately controlled and operating on a continuing basis; (3) the institution must provide instruction of 180 school days each year, with each school day consisting of at least four and one-half school hours; (4) the institution must provide a basic academic educational program; (5) the institution’s administrator must periodically provide the local school superintendent with enrollment information; and (6) the institution’s buildings must meet state and local health and safety standards. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b).

E. L. Academy appears to meet some, but not all of these requirements. We will assume for purposes of this opinion that E. L. Academy’s primary purpose is education, and it appears to be privately controlled and operating on a continuing basis. Claimant, however, has not established that E. L. Academy would provide instruction to him equivalent to 180 school days per year. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(3); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367 (a)(“you attend a school which provides elementary or secondary education as determined under the law of the State . . . in which it is located.”). Claimant has provided no evidence of the subjects that he is studying at E. L. Academy; moreover, Claimant’s mother indicated he studies only one subject at a time. Studying one subject at a time does not appear to meet Georgia’s requirement that private schools provide a basic academic educational program. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(4). Claimant has provided no evidence that Director has provided the local school superintendent with enrollment information. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(5). Finally, Claimant has provided no evidence that any building E. L. Academy occupies meets state and local health and safety standards. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(6).

Thus, Claimant has not demonstrated that E. L. Academy is an “educational institution” because he has not shown it is a school that provides elementary or secondary education (grade 12 or below) as determined under Georgia law. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (C)(i), (C)(ii); 20 C.F.R.§ 404.367(a), (e); POMS RS 00205.001(A); POMS RS 00205.200(A).

Home Schooling Under Georgia Law Georgia refers to a home school program as a “home study program.” Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(a).

Nor does E. L. Academy qualify as a home study program, and the information provided does not suggest Claimant was home schooled in accordance with Georgia law. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1); POMS RS 00205.275(A).

Parents or guardians may teach their children in a home study program meeting the following requirements: (1) the parent, parents, or guardian must submit a declaration of intent to use a home study program to the Department of Education within 30 days after the establishment of a home study program and by September 1 annually thereafter; (2) the declaration must include certain enrollment and address information; (3) the parent or guardian providing instruction must possess at least a high school diploma or G.E.D., although the parent or guardian may employ a tutor who holds a high school diploma or G.E.D. to provide instruction; (4) the home study program must provide a basic academic educational program, defined to include reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science; (5) the home study program must provide instruction 180 school days per year with each school day consisting of at least four and one-half school hours, unless the child is physically unable to comply; (6) attendance records must be kept and submitted annually to the Department of Education; (7) students are subject to an appropriate nationally standardized testing program administered in consultation with a person trained to administer such tests at least every three years; and (8) the home study program instructor must write an annual progress report. Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c).

The Georgia Legislature amended subsections (1) and (6) of Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c) effective July 2012 to require submission of the declaration of intent and attendance record to the Department of Education on an annual basis. See 2012 Georgia Laws Act 642. Prior to the amendment, the statute required submission of those documents to the local school district, and submission of attendance records monthly. POMS PR 08005.012 relies on PR 00-501 (Georgia Home Schooling), dated October 2, 1991, which reflects the requirements of the prior Georgia statute and not the 2012 amendments. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690 (West 2012).

Claimant’s course of study does not satisfy the requirements of Georgia’s home school law. Claimant’s mother admitted, and SR A~ confirmed, that no one has submitted to the Georgia Department of Education a declaration of intent to use a home study program. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(1), (c)(2). Claimant’s mother may not personally provide instruction to Claimant because she does not have a high school diploma or G.E.D. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(3). Claimant’s mother reported her brother, who has a high school diploma, “helps out,” but the information provided does not indicate that his involvement is equivalent to the employment of a tutor to instruct Claimant. See id.

The instruction from or involvement with E. L. Academy also does not meet the requirements of a home study program under Georgia law. Claimant has provided no evidence of the subjects that he is studying at E. L. Academy; moreover, Claimant’s mother indicated he studies only one subject at a time. Studying one subject at a time does not appear to meet Georgia’s requirement that home study students receive a basic academic educational program. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(4).

Director advised that she took attendance, but that she does not send records of attendance to the local school board. Although the Georgia Department of Education’s website does not indicate when one must submit the attendance reports, the information available does not indicate Director or Claimant’s mother provided or would provide attendance records annually to the Department of Education. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(6); Georgia Department of Education, http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/Curriculum-Instruction-and-Assessment/Pages/Home-School-FAQ.aspx (last visited April 29, 2013). Director’s statements also indicate Claimant would not be subject to an appropriate nationally standardized testing program. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(7). Director advised that she did not administer nationally standardized tests as they were not required for students over the age of sixteen, but Georgia law states that such tests shall be given every three years beginning at the end of the third grade. See id. Standardized tests would therefore be required at the end of the third, sixth, ninth and twelfth grades. See id. The statute includes no exception to the requirement of administering standardized tests for students who have achieved the age of sixteen. See id. Moreover, Director advised she does not prepare annual progress reports regarding academic progress, and none of the information provided indicates Claimant’s mother has or would prepare an annual progress report. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(8).

Therefore, Claimant’s course of study with E. L. Academy does not qualify as elementary or secondary school education under Georgia law and Claimant does not satisfy the federal requirements for full-time attendance. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (d)(7)(C); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (e); POMS RS 00205.001(A); POMS RS 00205.200(A).

CONCLUSION

Claimant is not a full-time elementary or secondary school student and, so, not eligible for CIB on NH’s earnings record.

Sincerely
Mary Ann Sloan
Regional Chief Counsel
By: Megan E. Gideon
Assistant Regional Counsel

L. PR 13-024 Eligibility for Child’s Insurance Benefits as a Full-Time Elementary or Secondary School Student Based on Attendance at James Madison High School

DATE: December 3, 2012

1. SYLLABUS

Based on the facts in this case the Chief Counsel’s opinion is that the beneficiary is not a full-time elementary or secondary school student because James Madison High School is not an educational institution and she did not provide information establishing she is being home schooled under Georgia law. Beneficiary also failed to establish that she is in full-time attendance.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You asked whether James Madison High School (JMHS), an online entity located in Georgia, is an educational institution and whether the beneficiary is in full-time attendance for determining if the beneficiary, a Georgia resident, qualifies for child’s insurance benefits (CIB) as a full-time secondary school student.

OPINION

The evidence presented does not demonstrate, for determining beneficiary’s eligibility for CIB, that JMHS is an educational institution offering primary or secondary education under Georgia law, or that beneficiary is attending JMHS full time.

BACKGROUND

According to the information provided, Quiana (Beneficiary) received CIB on the earnings record of her deceased father, J~, until she reached age eighteen in July 2012. Beneficiary completed a Student’s Statement Regarding School Attendance, indicating she has attended JMHS, an online entity located in Norcross, Georgia, since August 1, 2012, and expects to graduate in August 2016. Beneficiary did not report whether she is a full-time student at JMHS or how many hours a week she is scheduled to attend classes. Beneficiary reported she is not disabled, married, or receiving payment from an employer to attend school. Beneficiary provided a Duluth, Georgia, mailing address on the school attendance form she completed.

Adar, the academic coordinator of JMHS, certified the information Beneficiary provided was correct according to the school’s records. Adar also submitted a letter explaining JMHS does not classify its students as full or part time, only whether they are active or inactive. Additionally, Adar stated JMHS students work at their own pace and are not required to spend a set number of hours on their studies and it is the parent’s responsibility to monitor and verify hours to comply with various states’ home school laws. According to Reports of Contact dated September 19, 2012, and October 18, 2012, field office employees spoke with JMHS education specialists to obtain additional information. JHMS does not track the time a student spends online, and the school does not keep attendance logs. All students interact with the school exclusively online and have no live contact with teachers. JMHS provides interactive access to a teacher through e-mail.

The Professional Career Development Institute (PCDI), L.L.C., based in Norcross, Georgia, owns JMHS. See JMHS (visited Nov. 13, 2012) <http://www.jmhs.com/about/history>; Bloomberg Businessweek (visited Nov. 16, 2012) <http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=6920065>. According to its website, JMHS is a “nationally and regionally accredited online high school” recognized by two accrediting organizations, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI) and the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). See JMHS (visited Nov. 13, 2012) <http://www.jmhs.com/why-jmhs/accreditation>. The website also states JMHS complies with the “Common Core State Standards Initiative” coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. See id. <http://www.jmhs.com/why-jmhs/learning-experience/common-core/>. Consistent with Adar’s letter, the school’s website indicates students can enroll any time of the year, and there are no set class times or deadlines. See JMHS (visited Nov. 13, 2012) <http://www.jmhs.com/why-jmhs/learning-experience>.

DISCUSSION

To be eligible for CIB on the earnings record of a fully-insured, deceased individual, a beneficiary who is eighteen years or older and not disabled must be a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(B)(i); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2012); 25 26 A beneficiary may also qualify as “full-time elementary or secondary school student” if he is “instructed in elementary or secondary education at home in accordance with a home school law of the State . . . in which [she] reside[s].” 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1); POMS RS 00205.275.B. A home school student must carry a subject load that is considered full-time for day students under standards and practices set by the State in which he resides. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b). Also, a student must be scheduled to attend at least twenty hours per week to meet the requirements of full-time attendance. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(c).

Beneficiary and JMHS’s website indicate JMHS is located in Norcross, Georgia. Therefore, we look to Georgia law to determine whether JMHS is a school that provides elementary or secondary education. Georgia law mandates attendance in a public school, private school, or home school program for children between their sixth and sixteenth birthdays. 27 See Ga. Code. Ann. § 20-2-690.1 (West 2012).28 Although JMHS is owned by a privately held limited liability company, it does not meet the definition of a “private school.” Under Georgia law, a “private school” is an institution that meets the following requirements: (1) its primary purpose is to provide education; (2) it is privately controlled and operates on a continuing basis; (3) it provides instruction each 12 months for the equivalent of 180 days of education with each school day consisting of at least four and one-half hours; (4) it provides a basic educational program, which includes reading, language arts, mathematics, social sciences, and science; (5) it meets certain reporting requirements to each local public school district that has residents enrolled, including a list of the name, age, and residence of each enrollee; and (6) any building used by the institution for private school purposes meets all health and safety standards. See Ga. Code. Ann. § 20-2-690(b). According to Adar, the JMHS academic coordinator, students work at their own pace and are not required to spend a set number of hours on their studies. Additionally, there is no evidence that JMHS keeps attendance logs or complies with the reporting requirements of Ga. Code. Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(5). See Schwindler v. State, 563 S.E.2d 154, 583 (Ga. Ct. App. 2002) (all administrators of private schools, regardless of location, which teach a student who resides in a Georgia public school district must report that student’s attendance to the school superintendent of the public school district).

We also examined whether Beneficiary’s attendance at JMHS would meet the requirements of a home study program. Under Georgia law, a parent may teach his or her child in a home study program provided the parent and home study program comply with numerous requirements, including: the parent must submit a declaration to the local school district; the parent must have at least a high school diploma or a general educational development diploma, or employ a tutor who holds a high school diploma or a general educational development diploma; the home study program must provide instruction each year equivalent to 180 school days of education; the parent must keep attendance records and submit them to the local school district; the student must be subject to an appropriate nationally standardized testing program; and the home study program instructor must write an annual progress assessment report. See Ga. Code. Ann. § 20-2-690(c). Adar stated that it is the parent’s responsibility to monitor and verify hours to comply with various states’ home school laws. The information provided does not indicate Beneficiary’s mother met or complied with the requirements of Georgia’s home schooling law. Thus, if Beneficiary is being home schooled, the information currently available does not establish that she is instructed in secondary education at home in accordance with Georgia law. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1); POMS RS 00205.275.B.

Beneficiary has not established that she is in full-time attendance. As the foregoing discussion demonstrates, JMHS is not an educational institution under Georgia law. See 20 C.F.R. ' 404.367(a). Beneficiary has also not provided sufficient evidence to establish she meets both State and Federal standards for full-time attendance. See POMS RS 00205.295. Beneficiary provided no evidence regarding the number of hours per week she is scheduled to attend at JMHS. Additionally, Adar reported that JMHS does not classify its students as full or part time, does not require students to spend a set number of hours on their studies, and does not monitor or verify hours to ensure students are in compliance with State or Federal standards. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300.C. Scheduled school attendance includes only the time spent in the classroom, laboratory work, supervised study, required time for changes in teacher/student stations, and working at a job that "is an integral part of the program of study." See POMS RS 00205.310B. Beneficiary has not provided the hours she is scheduled to devote to her studies or demonstrated that any such hours would qualify as scheduled school attendance. Accordingly, the available information does not establish Beneficiary is in full-time attendance at JMHS.

CONCLUSION

Beneficiary is not a full-time elementary or secondary school student because JMHS is not an educational institution and she did not provide information establishing she is being home schooled under Georgia law. Beneficiary also failed to establish that she is in full-time attendance.

Sincerely
Mary Ann Sloan
Regional Chief Counse
By: Joseph P. Palermo
Assistant Regional Counsel

M. PR 13-010 Status of Paxen Learning Corporation as an Educational Institution – Georgia Wage Earner – Robert Beneficiary – Courtney

DATE: October 31, 2012

1. SYLLABUS

Paxen Learning Corporation (Paxen) is an educational publisher and services provider that offers programs in academic, career, and life skills including a GED program located in Clarke County, Georgia. Paxen’s GED program does not satisfied the qualifications to be considered an “educational institution” because it is not a school that provides elementary or secondary education (grade 12 or below) as determined under Georgia law. Thus, it is not an educational institution for SSA purposes.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

For purposes of determining whether a beneficiary enrolled in a general education development (GED) program offered by Paxen Learning Corporation (Paxen), an entity located in Georgia, qualifies for child’s insurance benefits as a full-time elementary or secondary school student, you asked whether Paxen is an educational institution and whether the beneficiary is in full-time attendance.

OPINION

Paxen is not an educational institution offering elementary or secondary education under Georgia law. Also, the beneficiary is not in full-time attendance for the purpose of determining her eligibility for child’s insurance benefits as a full-time student.

BACKGROUND

Courtney (Beneficiary) received child’s insurance benefits (CIB) on Robert ’s earnings record. Beneficiary turned eighteen years old in August 2012. That month, the Social Security Administration (SSA) terminated Beneficiary’s CIB payments.

In September 2012, Beneficiary completed a Student’s Statement Regarding School Attendance, alleging she had enrolled in Paxen’s GED program in Athens, Georgia. Beneficiary reported she had attended Classic City High until March 2012, when she was seventeen years old. She stated Paxen’s school year began in January 2012 and will end in December 2012. Beneficiary indicated she is in full-time attendance at Paxen and reported she was scheduled to attend Paxen’s GED program for twenty hours per week. Beneficiary further reported she is not disabled, married, or receiving payment from an employer to attend school.

Beneficiary also submitted a Certification by School Official from a “Case Manager,” Jason (School Official). School Official did not identify his employer, but he listed a phone number attributed to Paxen as his own. See Chamber Of Commerce.com (visited Oct. 24, 2012) http://www.chamberofcommerce.com/athens-ga/11187692-paxen-learning/. School Official indicated the information in Beneficiary’s statement regarding her attendance was correct according to Paxen’s records. School Official also indicated Paxen operated on a yearly basis and its course of study was at least thirteen weeks in duration. SSA contacted Paxen, but could not obtain evidence confirming whether Paxen qualified as an educational institution.

According to its website, Paxen is an educational publisher and services provider. About Paxen (visited Oct. 23, 2012) http://www.paxen.com/about-paxen. Paxen’s mission is “to provide fundamental life, education, and workforce skills that together form the building blocks for better lives.” Paxen.com (visited Oct. 23, 2012) http://www.paxen.com/. Paxen offers programs in academic, career, and life skills. Paxen Pathways (visited Oct. 23, 2012) http://.paxen.com/pathways. Through its Forward March program, Paxen offers key career and life skills to adults. Career Skills Programs (visited Oct. 23, 2012) http://www.paxen.com/programs/skills. Through its Operation Reconstruct Program, Paxen offers hands-on work readiness, vocational training, and credentialing in the construction industry. Id. Paxen also offers a Delinquency Intervention program and Foster Care / Independent Living program. Life Skills Programs (visited Oct. 23, 2012) http://www.paxen.com/programs/life-skills.

Enrollees in Paxen’s GED program in Athens “study for the GED Tests in only three weeks.” Athens (visited Oct. 23, 2012) http://www.paxen.com/georgia/athens. Following this three-week period, enrollees receive “one week of work-readiness preparation, wherein they receive instruction about best practices in seeking, securing, and succeeding in high-interest jobs.” Id. Paxen’s GED preparation program concentrates on several test areas, including math, reading, science, social studies, and writing. Paxen Bookstore (visited Oct. 23, 2012) http://.paxen.com//ged-prep-xcelerator-complete-set.

DISCUSSION

To be eligible for CIB, an individual who is eighteen years or older and not disabled must be a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(B), (7)(A); see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2012); 29 Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001(A). To qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student,” an individual must attend an educational institution, i.e., a school that provides elementary or secondary education (grade 12 or below) according to the law of the State or jurisdiction where the school is located. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (C)(i), (C)(ii); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (e); POMS RS 00205.001(A); POMS RS 00205.200(A). An individual also may qualify as an elementary or secondary school student if he or she is: 1) instructed in secondary education at home under the home school law of the State or other jurisdiction where the beneficiary resides; or 2) in an independent study secondary education program, administered by the local school, school district, or school jurisdiction, under the law of the State or other jurisdiction where the individual resides. 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1)-(2).

Certain preparatory and postsecondary schools, such as colleges, community colleges, vocational schools, and technical schools, may be educational institutions if the State or other local jurisdiction approved them to provide education at the secondary level or below. See POMS RS 00205.200(B)(2); POMS RS 00205.250(A); POMS RS 00205.340(B). The determining factor is the course of study. POMS RS 00205.250(A). A secondary or postsecondary school offering a GED program is an educational institution if the program is an approved secondary level program under the law of the State or other jurisdiction where the school is located. POMS RS 00205.340(B). Therefore, an individual in a GED program can qualify as an elementary or secondary school student if the school providing the GED program is an educational institution. See POMS RS 00205.340(A).

A beneficiary also must attend school full time to qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.001(A); POMS RS 00205.300(A). A beneficiary is in full-time attendance if he or she is attending an educational institution and meets both State and Federal standards for full-time attendance. POMS RS 00205.300(A). A beneficiary meets the State standards if the school considers the beneficiary to be full-time based on the school’s standards and practices. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.300(B); POMS RS 00205.350(C)(1). A beneficiary meets the Federal standards if he or she is scheduled to attend school at least twenty hours per week, enrolled in a noncorrespondence course, and enrolled in a course of study that is of at least thirteen weeks’ duration. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300(C).

Paxen’s GED program is located in Clarke County, Georgia. Therefore, we look to Georgia law to determine whether Paxen qualifies as an educational institution. See Act § 202(d)(7)(C)(i); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); POMS RS 00205.200(A). Georgia recognizes public schools, private schools, and home study programs as “educational entities.” Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(a) (West 2012). The Clarke County School District’s website does not list Paxen as a public school. See Schools (visited Oct. 23, 2012) http://www.clarke.k12.ga.us/.cfm?schoolType=%20School. Therefore, we must determine whether Paxen is a private school or home study program.

Paxen is not a private school under Georgia law. A non-religious institution must meet several requirements to be a “private school,” including: (1) the institution’s primary purpose must be education; (2) the institution must be privately controlled and operating on a continuing bases; (3) the institution each year must provide instruction of 180 school days, with each school day consisting of at least four and one-half school hours; (4) the institution must provide a basic academic educational program; (5) the institution’s administrator must periodically provide the school superintendent with enrollment information; and (6) the institution’s buildings must meet state and local health and safety standards. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b) (West 2012).

Paxen does not meet all these requirements. 30 Paxen’s primary purpose does not appear to be education. See Ga. Code. Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(1). Paxen is an educational publisher and services provider. About Paxen (visited Oct. 23, 2012) http://www.paxen.com/about-paxen. Paxen’s mission is “to provide fundamental life, education, and workforce skills that together form the building blocks for better lives.” Paxen (visited Oct. 23, 2012) http://www.paxen.com/. Paxen offers a Delinquency Intervention program, Foster Care / Independent Living program, and programs offering adults key career and life skills, hands-on work readiness, vocational training, and credentialing in the construction industry. Career Skills Programs (visited Oct. 23, 2012) http://?www.paxen.com/?programs/?career-skills; Life Skills Programs (visited Oct. 23, 2012) http://www.paxen.com/programs/life-skills. Because Paxen has many other purposes besides education, it does not meet the first requirement for a private school. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(1). 31

Although Beneficiary indicated Paxen’s “School Year” began in January 2012 and would end in December 2012, the information provided does not show that its GED program provides instruction each year for the equivalent of 180 school days of education as required of private schools. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(3). Paxen’s website shows its GED program lasts only four weeks. Paxen, http://www.paxen.com/georgia/athens. The information provided and on Paxen’s website also does not show Paxen reports its enrollment as required by Georgia law. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(5). Therefore, Paxen does not meet all of Georgia’s requirements for a private school.

Paxen also is not a home study program, and the information provided does not suggest Beneficiary was home schooled in accordance with Georgia law. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1); POMS RS 00205.275(A). Under Georgia law, parents or guardians may teach their own child in a home study program if they have high school diploma or GED, or they may employ a tutor who holds a high school diploma or GED to teach the child. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(3). The information provided does not show Paxen teaches Beneficiary through her parents, her guardian, or a tutor hired by Beneficiary’s parent or guardian. Therefore, Paxen is not a home study program under Georgia law.

Thus, Paxen is not an “educational institution” because it is not a school that provides elementary or secondary education (grade 12 or below) as determined under Georgia law. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (C)(i), (C)(ii); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (e); POMS RS 00205.001(A); POMS RS 00205.200(A).

The information provided also does not indicate Beneficiary is in an independent study secondary education program administered by the local school or school district under Georgia law. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(2). Independent study, also known as “off-campus” or “alternative school,” is a method of alternative secondary education used in some States. POMS RS 00205.285(A). Local education agencies, such as high schools or school districts, run independent study programs. Id.Independent study programs are run “in accordance with specific State law requirements and the credits earned count toward high school graduation.” Id. The programs involve periodic teacher contact, direction, and testing on campus, with the student making academic progress generally through independent study at home. Id.We did not find any specific requirements in Georgia for independent study programs.

Neither the information provided nor Paxen’s website indicates Paxen’s GED program is administrated by a local school or school district. The evidence also does not show that Paxen’s GED program courses count toward a student’s high school graduation. Instead, after a student passes the GED test in Georgia, the Technical College System of Georgia will issue the student a GED diploma. Tech. College Sys. of Ga. (visited Oct. 23, 2012) https://tcsg.edu/ged_faqs.php. Further, Paxen students do not appear to complete the GED program by independent study at home. Therefore, Paxen’s GED program is not an independent study program. Cf. POMS RS 00205.285(A).

Finally, information on Paxen’s website indicates Beneficiary could not meet the Federal standards for full-time attendance. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.267(b); POMS RS 00205.300(A). Beneficiary reported Paxen’s “School Year” began in January 2012 and would end in December 2012 and that she was scheduled to attend Paxen twenty hours a week. School Official certified the information Beneficiary provided was correct and indicated Paxen’s course of study was at least thirteen weeks in duration. However, Paxen’s website shows its GED program lasts only four weeks. Paxen, http://.paxen.com//. Therefore, at least regarding its GED program, Paxen does not provide instruction for at least thirteen weeks duration, and Beneficiary is not in full-time attendance.

CONCLUSION

Paxen is not an educational institution under Georgia law, and Beneficiary is not in full-time attendance. Therefore, Beneficiary is not a full-time elementary or secondary school student for determining her eligibility for CIB.

Sincerely
Mary Ann Sloan
Regional Chief Counsel
By: Kevin M. Parrington

Assistant Regional Counsel

N. PR 12-109 Status of Cherokee Focus - Georgia Number Holder – Chris Beneficiary – Alexander

DATE: June 4, 2012

1. SYLLABUS

Cherokee Focus is a collaboration of various organizations, families, and individuals who use their skills, expertise, and resources to develop initiatives to help improve children’s and families’ lives in Cherokee County, Georgia. One of Cherokee Focus many initiatives is an education component that assists eligible sixteen to twenty-one year old students in graduating from high school, receiving their high school diploma, or getting their GED diploma. Cherokee Focus provides group and individual instruction and holds classes apparently at the Cherokee County Learning Center or local churches. Cherokee Focus has not satisfied the qualifications to be considered an “educational institution” because it is not a school that provides elementary or secondary education (grade 12 or below) as determined under Georgia law. Thus, it is not an educational institution for SSA purposes.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You asked whether Cherokee Focus Group’s general education development (GED) program meets the requirements of an educational institution in Georgia for the purposes of determining whether the beneficiary is entitled to child’s insurance benefits (CIB) as a full-time student.

OPINION

For the reasons stated below, Cherokee Focus Group’s GED program does not meet the requirements of an educational institution in Georgia. Additionally, the evidence does not show that the beneficiary satisfies the other requirements to be considered a full-time student. Therefore, the beneficiary is not eligible for CIB as a full-time student.

BACKGROUND

According to the information provided, Alexander (Beneficiary) currently receives CIB on the earnings record of Chris and seeks to continue CIB as a full-time student. Beneficiary attended Cherokee High School from August 3, 2010, through January 21, 2011. Beneficiary was born on November, and was seventeen years old when he stopped attending high school. Beneficiary reported that in March 2011, he began attending Cherokee Focus Group (Cherokee Focus), which is located in Cherokee County, Georgia. Beneficiary indicated he was scheduled to attend sixteen hours a week at Cherokee Focus. He indicated he expected to graduate in May 2012.

According to Sonia, Executive Director and CEO of Cherokee Focus, the course of study is from Monday through Friday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and is at least 13 weeks in duration. Cherokee Focus operates annually. When asked how many hours per day and per week are students required to attend classes, Sonia said the hours per day/week per student varies and depends upon the student’s level in the program. Sonia said Beneficiary will be completing an additional four hours to meet his required twenty hours but she did not explain whether these hours were required to finish a Cherokee Focus program in general or its GED program in particular.

Sonia indicated Cherokee Focus has not applied to be an approved Georgia organization providing elementary or secondary level education. Sonia said that instead Cherokee Focus “works closely” with Chattahoochee Technical College. She explained that Cherokee Focus’ teachers attend Chattahoochee Technical College’s required training, without explaining the nature of that training. Sonia reported Chattahoochee Technical College tests Cherokee Focus’ students. Sonia also stated the Director of Adult Education at Chattahoochee Technical College serves at the Vice President on Cherokee Focus’ board. She claimed Cherokee Focus also “works under” Chattahoochee Technical College’s umbrella. Sonia did not provide documentation of this affiliation or further specific information.

The Chattahoochee Technical College’s website states that a student who is sixteen to nineteen years old must be officially withdrawn from public, private, or home school to be eligible to take the GED test. Chattahoohee Technical College, (visited March 12, 2012) <http://chattahoocheetech.edu/prospective/ged/>. In addition, Chattahoochee Technical College requires the student to submit an official school withdrawal form from the last school attended or a letter signed by the superintendent/designee verifying that the student is no longer enrolled in a public, private, or home school. Id. Students who are sixteen or seventeen years old must enroll in Adult Education classes and complete a minimum of twelve hours of classroom work plus score a minimum overall average on the practice test or approved assessments before the Chattahoochee Technical College will approve the student to take the GED. Id.

DISCUSSION

The Social Security Act (Act) provides that to be eligible for CIB, a beneficiary who is eighteen years or older and not disabled must be a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” See Act §§ 202(d)(1)(B), 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.350(a)(5) (2012)All references to 20 C.F.R. are to the 2012 version unless otherwise noted.; Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001(A). To qualify as a full-time elementary or secondary school student, a beneficiary must attend an “educational institution.” See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (C)(i), (C)(ii); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (e); POMS RS 00205.001(A); POMS RS 00205.200(A). The term “educational institution” is defined as a school that provides elementary or secondary education (grade 12 or below) as determined under the law of the State in which the school is located. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (C)(i), (C)(ii); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (e); POMS RS 00205.001(A); POMS RS 00205.200(A). A beneficiary also may meet the requirements of 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a) if he or she is: 1) instructed in secondary education at home in accordance with the home school law of the State or other jurisdiction in which the beneficiary resides; or 2) in an independent study secondary education program in accordance with the law of the State or other jurisdiction in which the beneficiary student resides which is administered by the local school or school district/jurisdiction. 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1), (2).

The POMS specifically provides that certain preparatory and postsecondary schools may be educational institutions if approved by the State or other local jurisdiction to provide education at the secondary level or below. See POMS RS 00205.250(A). The course of study is the determining factor. See POMS RS 00205.250(A). An individual in a GED program can be considered a student if the program providing the GED program is an educational institution and the student is in full-time attendance. See POMS RS 00205.340(A). For GED purposes, secondary or postsecondary programs of any type are educational institutions if, under the law of the State or other jurisdiction in which the program is located, the GED program is determined to be an approved secondary level program. See POMS RS 00205.340(B). A community college that offers a high school level program approved by the local board of education can qualify as an educational institution though the school is a postsecondary school. See POMS RS 00205.340(B). The community college would be an educational institution because it has a GED program that provides high school level courses. See POMS RS 00205.340(B).

In addition to attending an educational institution or participating in an equivalent program, a beneficiary must also attend school full time to qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.201(A); POMS RS 00205.300(A). To be considered in full-time attendance, a beneficiary generally must be in a day or evening non-correspondence course of at least thirteen weeks duration, carry a subject load considered full-time for day students under the school’s standards and practices, and be scheduled to attend at least twenty hours a week. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c). The POMS states that a beneficiary is in full-time attendance if he or she is attending an educational institution and meets both State and Federal standards for full-time attendance. Neither the Act nor the regulations appear to differentiate specifically between State and Federal standards for full-time attendance. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367. See POMS RS 00205.300(A). According to the POMS, a beneficiary meets the State standards if the school considers the beneficiary to be full-time based on the school’s standards and practices. See POMS RS 00205.300(B). A beneficiary meets the Federal standards if he or she is scheduled to attend school at least twenty hours per week, enrolled in a non-correspondence course, and enrolled in a course of study that is of at least thirteen weeks’ duration. See POMS RS 00205.300(C).

Cherokee Focus’ GED program is located in Cherokee County, Georgia. Therefore, we look to Georgia law to determine whether Cherokee Focus’ GED program qualifies as an educational institution. See Act § 202(d)(7)(C)(i); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); POMS RS 00205.200(A). We looked to Georgia’s compulsory education law and found that Georgia recognizes public schools, private schools, and home study programs as “educational entities.” See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(a) (West 2012).

Cherokee Focus is not a public school. Cherokee Focus is not listed on the Georgia Department of Education’s website as a recognized public high school. Georgia Department of Education, (visited May 18, 2012), http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/Curriculum-Instruction-and-Assessment/Curriculum-and-Instruction/Pages/Find-a-Georgia-School-Website.aspx>. Cherokee Focus is also not listed on Cherokee School District’s website as a recognized public high school in Cherokee. See Cherokee County School District, (visited May 18, 2012), http://www.cherokee.k12.ga.us/SCHOOLS/Documents/welcome.aspx>. The Technical College System of Georgia regulates adult education programs and provides funding to adult education providers. According to Kimberlee, the Regional Education Coordinator for Region II for the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG), which includes Chattahoochee Technical College, TCSG has approved only the entities listed on its website to receive federal and state funds. TCSG’s website lists Chattahoochee Technical College as one of its grantees but does not list Cherokee Focus. Sonia also said that Cherokee Focus has not sought state approval or accreditation in Georgia. This information demonstrates that Cherokee Focus is not operated by the local board of education and does not have that board’s approval.

To qualify as a private school, Cherokee Focus would need to meet the following requirements of private schools:

(1) The primary purpose of the institution is to provide education or, if the primary purpose of the institution is religious in nature, the institution shall provide the basic educational program specified in paragraph (4) of this subsection;

(2) The institution is privately controlled and operates on a continuing basis;

(3) The institution provides instruction each 12 months for the equivalent of 180 school days of education with each school day consisting of at least four and one-half school hours;

(4) The institution provides a basic academic educational program, which includes, but is not limited to, reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science;

(5) Within 30 days after the beginning of each school year, it shall be the duty of the administrator of each private school to provide to the school superintendent of each local public school district, which has residents enrolled in the private school a list of the name, age, and residence of each resident so enrolled. At the end of each school month, it shall be the duty of the administrator of each private school to notify the school superintendent of each local public school district of the name, age, and residence of each student residing in the public school district who enrolls or terminates enrollment at the private school during the immediately preceding school month. Enrollment records and reports shall not be used for any purpose except providing necessary enrollment information, except with the permission of the parent or guardian of a child, pursuant to the subpoena of a court of competent jurisdiction, or for verification of attendance by the Department of Public Safety for its purposes; and

(6) Any building used by the institution for private school purposes meets all health and safety standards established under state law and local ordinances.

GA. CODE ANN. § 20-2-690(b) (West 2012).

In light of Cherokee Focus’ many initiatives, this organization’s primary purpose does not appear to be education and therefore this organization does not meet § 20-2-690(b)(1) of the Georgia Code to be considered a private school. Cherokee Focus has many initiatives: Youth Connection (which is a youth-community-action initiative), Live Healthy Cherokee, Drug Free Cherokee, Volunteer Cherokee, and Early Childhood Coalition. Consequently, out of six initiatives, only two pertain to education. Additionally, based on its website, Cherokee Focus has an education component that assists eligible sixteen to twenty-one year old individuals in graduating from high school, receiving their high school diploma, or getting their GED diploma. Cherokee Focus Group, (visited March 12, 2012) <http://www.cherokeefocus.org/cherokeeyouthworks.html>. This latter initiative provides alternative secondary school offerings, tutoring, dropout prevention strategies, GED preparation classes, summer employment, work experience, job shadowing, among other non-educational things. Cherokee Focus Group, (visited March 22, 2012) Cherokee Focus Group, (visited March 22, 2012) <http://www.cherokeefocus.org/cherokeeyouthworks.html>. Because this education initiative of Cherokee Focus has many other purposes besides education, we do not believe Cherokee Focus has met the first criteria for a finding that it would qualify as a private school. GA. CODE ANN. § 20-2-690(b)(1).

Cherokee Focus’ GED program concentrates on math, social studies, science, literature, and writing. Cherokee Focus Group, (visited March 12, 2012) <http://www.cherokeefocus.org/education.html>. The GED program does apparently hold all of the necessary classes to meet this requirement for private schools. See GA. CODE ANN. § 20-2-690(b)(4).

Cherokee Focus provides group and individual instruction and holds classes apparently at the Cherokee County Learning Center or local churches. Id. We do not have any information that these buildings meet all health and safety standards established under state law and local ordinances under GA. CODE ANN. § 20-2-690(b)(6).

Moreover, Cherokee Focus’ website and information from Beneficiary demonstrate that the school day does not consists of at least four and one-half school hours as required under Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(3).

Lastly, there is no information in the file that Sonia at Cherokee Focus or the Chattahoochee Technical College on behalf of Cherokee Focus, comply with Georgia’s school enrollment reporting requirements for private schools. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(5). Because the GED test takers at Chattahoochee Technical College must withdraw from public, private, and home schools to be eligible to take the GED test at Chattahoochee Technical College, we presume that they do not report school enrollment or attendance.

Cherokee Focus does not meet all of Georgia’s requirements for a private school under Georgia’s compulsory education law.

Finally, Cherokee Focus is also not a home school because Cherokee Focus is a non-profit collaborative of various organizations, families, and individuals who teach its GED classes at a local church or learning center. Cf. POMS RS 00205.275(A). Parents and other individuals also teach the students at Cherokee Focus. Under Georgia law, parents or guardians may teach only their own children in the home study program, provided the teaching parent or guardian possesses at least a high school diploma or GED, but the parents or guardians may employ a tutor who holds a high school diploma or GED to teach such children. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(3). Therefore, Cherokee Focus would not qualify as a home school under Georgia law.

In light of the above, Cherokee Focus has not satisfied the qualifications to be considered an “educational institution” because it is not a school that provides elementary or secondary education (grade 12 or below) as determined under Georgia law. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (C)(i), (C)(ii); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (e); POMS RS 00205.001(A); POMS RS 00205.200(A). We note as an aside that under Georgia’s compulsory education law and local school board rules, an unemancipated minor who is over the age of mandatory attendance who has not completed all the requirements for a high school diploma may officially withdraw from high school under certain conditions. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690.1(e) (West 2012). Georgia law permits the minor who so withdraws to pursue a GED. See id. Here, Beneficiary was required to submit to Chattahoochee Technical College an official withdrawal notice from Cherokee High School before he is eligible to take the GED test. Therefore, Beneficiary either officially withdrew from Cherokee High School or, because Beneficiary was out of that high school for longer than ten days, that high school withdrew him. Because Beneficiary must withdraw from school to take the GED test, we do not believe that Georgia law would consider Cherokee Focus a secondary school.

The information provided also does not indicate Beneficiary is in an independent study secondary education program in accordance with Georgia law that is administered by the local school or school district/jurisdiction. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(2). Independent study, also known as “off-campus” or “alternative school” is a method of alternative secondary education used in some States. See POMS RS 00205.285(A). Local education agencies, such as high schools or school districts, run independent study programs. See id. The independent study program are run “in accordance with specific State law requirements and the credits earned count toward high school graduation.” See id. The programs involve periodic teacher contact, direction, and testing on campus, with the student making academic progress generally through independent study at home. See id. We did not find any specific requirements in Georgia for independent study programs.

Cherokee Focus does involve periodic teacher contact, direction, and testing on campus. However, Cherokee Focus would not qualify as an independent study program because there is no evidence that the courses that the GED students take count toward the student’s high school graduation. It is not clear from POMS or regulations that the preparatory course must prepare students for a high school diploma; however, in light of the POMS’ recognition of GED programs as possible educational institutions, GED preparatory programs that prepare students for a GED diploma rather than for a high school diploma can still be considered educational institutions.

Instead, after a student passes the GED test in Georgia, the TCSG will issue the student a GED diploma. Further, it does not appear that the students at Cherokee Focus make academic progress with taking the GED by independently studying at home. Therefore, Cherokee Focus’ GED program is not an independent study program. Cf. POMS RS 00205.285(A) (defining independent study program in part as indicating that the credits earned in the program would count toward high school graduation and that the program involves periodic teacher contact, direction, and testing on campus with the student making academic progress generally through independent study at home).

Finally, the information provided also does not establish Beneficiary was in full-time attendance. Beneficiary reported the school year began in March 2011 and does not have an applicable school end date. He indicated he expected to graduate in May 2012. Beneficiary thus indicated he would be in a day or evening non-correspondence course of at least thirteen weeks duration. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b). However, Beneficiary reported that he attends Cherokee Focus for only sixteen hours a week. According to Sonia, the course of study is from Monday through Friday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., but she also said the hours per day/week per student varies and depends upon the student’s level in the program. Sonia said Beneficiary will be completing an additional four hours to meet his required twenty hours but she did not explain whether these hours were required to finish a Cherokee Focus program in general or its GED program in particular. However, Cherokee Focus’ website indicates that in March 2012, Cherokee Focus had GED classes only two days a week from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Moreover, Beneficiary indicated he was scheduled to attend sixteen hours a week at Cherokee Focus. Thus, the evidence provided and the information on Cherokee Focus’ website do not establish that Beneficiary was carrying a subject load that demonstrates full-time for day students at Cherokee Focus or that Beneficiary’s scheduled attendance was at the rate of at least twenty hours per week. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c). Therefore, the evidence provided does not establish that Beneficiary was in full-time attendance.

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, we believe the claimants enrolled at Faith Academy do not qualify for child's benefits as students based on the information they supplied.

Sincerely
Mary Ann Sloan
Regional Chief Counse
By: Arthurice T. Brundidge
Assistant Regional Counsel

O. PR 09-124 Child's Benefit Eligibility of Students of Faith Academy, Georgia, Various Number Holders

DATE: June 24, 2009

1. SYLLABUS

At the time the regional attorney reviewed whether Faith Academy (FA) in Georgia provided elementary or secondary education in accordance with Georgia law, the materials presented did not demonstrate that FA met the Georgia criteria for elementary or secondary schools. Thus, it was not an educational institution for SSA purposes.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You asked whether Faith Academy, Georgia, meets the requirements of a private school and whether several named individuals attend full time.

OPINION

The materials presented do not demonstrate that Faith Academy meets the Georgia criteria for elementary or secondary schools. More importantly, the students have not documented full-time attendance.

BACKGROUND

Faith Academy is a private entity with offices in various locations in Georgia. See http://www.faithaca.org/Georgia/index.htmlFaith Academy (visited June 1, 2009) <Since 2006, the Morrow (Southlake) Social Security field office has been denying child's benefits to Faith Academy students eighteen and older because the claimants have not demonstrated they attend full time. By letter dated October 22, 2008, Faith Academy (Locust Grove) administrator J~ protested the benefit denials. In the letter, J~ represented that the students were receiving "false information" from the Morrow and Griffin field offices, that the students were "full-time," and that Faith Academy was an accredited private school. J~ stated Faith Academy meets 180 days per year, provides seven hours of instruction per day, and reports attendance to each county.

The Faith Academy website describes its program as follows:

Our method of instruction involves a highly disciplinary approach and assists the student's ability to work independently. The students may receive tutorial or small group instruction. All instructors at Faith Academy are qualified and approved for their subject of instruction. The number of courses a student may take strictly follows the guidelines of the Georgia Board of Education.

A student will come in once a week to the school and pick up their [sic] assignments. They will return their work the next week and pick up their next assignments. Every six weeks they will take exams at the school. Science labs will also be required for the student to do at the school. At the end of each semester, the student must take the final exam for each of their [sic] classes. The student must complete their [sic] weekly assignments, six-week tests, and final exams to receive credit for the semester. http://www.faithaca.org/Georgia/GeneralInfo.htm

<visited May 21, 2009). Clicking the "class lectures" button on the "Georgia/General Info" page produces a description of video available for use and no description of any live classes. See <http://www.faithaca.infovisited May 21, 2009). Clicking the "Science Lab" button produces the information that at least one lab is required per science class. See <http://www.faithaca.org/Georgia/Science%20Labs.htm visited May 21, 2009). Clicking the "schedule" button produces a semester schedule with no list of office or class hours. See <http://www.faithaca.infovisited May 21, 2009). The website does not appear to have any information on faculty.

Students' descriptions of their attendance vary. For example, C~ , K~ and J~ represented on their Student Statement Regarding School Attendance forms (SSA-1372-BK) that they are "scheduled to attend" 20 hours per week. W~ for K~ , L~ , A~ for L~ and L~ wrote 20+ hours. "K~" (this spelling varies from that typed on the SSA-1372-BK forms) handwrote, "Students pick-up [sic] assigned work to be done at home. Students must return the work the following week and then pick-up [sic] their next assignments. Students must take tests (mid-term and finals) on the school campus." Thus, for example, K~ 's work is described three different ways: attendance 20 hours per week, attendance 20+ hours per week, and no attendance of classes (that is, no face-to-face instruction at all), with only pickup and dropoff of assignments. The material supplied to us does not indicate direct (face-to-face) instruction off campus; as, for example, by parents.

DISCUSSION

An individual eighteen years old or older may be eligible for child's insurance benefits if the individual is a full-time elementary or secondary school student. See Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(B)(i), 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1)(B)(i); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2009). To be considered an elementary or secondary school student, the child must attend a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under the law of the State or other jurisdiction in which it is located. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (C)(i); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a). An individual also may meet the requirements for attendance at a school if the individual is home schooled in accordance with the laws of the state or in an independent study program administrated by the local school or school district/jurisdiction in accordance with the laws of state. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1), (2). An educational institution is a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under the law of the State or other jurisdiction in which it is located. See Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.200(A).

Georgia statutes recognize three types of educational entities: public schools, private schools, and home study programs. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(a) (2009). Faith Academy is not a public school. Therefore, we must determine whether Faith Academy is a private school under Georgia or a home study program under Georgia law.

In Georgia, the term "private school" means an institution meeting the following criteria or requirements: (1) The primary purpose of the institution is education; (2) the institution is privately controlled; (3) the institution provides each year 180 school days of at least four and one-half school hours; (4) the institution provides a basic academic educational program; (5) the administrator of the school provides the school superintendent with enrollment information; and (6) buildings meet state and local health and safety standards. See GA. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b).

Faith Academy appears to be a privately controlled institution whose primary purpose is to provide education and that provides a basics academic educational program. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(1), (2), (4). J~ represents in his letter that Faith Academy provides enrollment information to the superintendent of the local school district. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(5). We have no information on the health and safety standards of the buildings, see Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(6), but since Faith Academy appears accredited, we assume for purposes of this memorandum that this factor is not a bar to Faith Academy's status as a private school.

Faith Academy's compliance with the remaining factor, amount of instruction, see Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(3), is less clear due to inconsistencies between J~'s letter, the school website, and some student-supplied information. J~ states that Faith Academy meets 180 school days and provides 7 hours of instruction per day. The website, however, portrays the program as independent study, with little attendance. Students pick up and drop off work, with no class schedule or faculty information apparent on the website. K~ 's handwritten note confirms the website information. Thus, the information provided does not establish that Faith Academy provides instruction with each school day consisting of at least four and one-half school hours as required by Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(3).

Another possibility for Faith Academy to qualify as an Educational Institution is home schooling; that is, supplies, tests, etc., are supplied by Faith Academy, with instruction carried out by parents, tutors, or other individuals. Georgia law recognizes home schooling and imposes detailed requirements, as follows: (1) the parent, parents, or guardian must submit a declaration of intent to utilize a home study program to the superintendent of schools of the local school district; (2) the declaration must include certain enrollment and address information;

(3) the parent, guardian, or tutor providing instruction must possess at least a high school diploma or a general educational development diploma; (4) the home study program must provide a basic academic educational program; (5) the home study program must provide instruction 180 school days per year with each school day consisting of at least four and one-half school hours, unless the child is physically unable to comply; (6) attendance records must be kept and submitted each month to the local school superintendent; (7) students are subject to nationally standardized testing program administered in consultation with a trained person; and (8) the home study program instructor must write an annual progress report. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c).

The materials supplied to us do not document that the instruction associated with Faith Academy meets these criteria. We do not have parent declarations or documentation of the academic qualifications of parents or tutors. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(1)-(3). The program may provide a basic, academic, educational program, see Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(4), but as explained above, Faith Academy's compliance with the instructional time requirement is not well established. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(5). All the information we have indicates no home instructional time at all. J~'s letter makes no reference to parents or home tutors. The information provided also does not include home-instruction attendance records, information on standardized testing, or assessments from the home instructors. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(6)-(8).

Thus, the documentation supplied to us does not indicate Faith Academy qualifies as a home schooling program.

In addition, the materials supplied to us do not document full time attendance. The regulations require "scheduled attendance . . . at the rate of at least 20 hours per week" unless the school does not schedule 20 hour per week and the particular school is the individual's only reasonable alternative, or the individual has a medical condition that prevents 20 hours per week attendance. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(c). Attendance includes time in the classroom, laboratory work, supervised study that is available to all students, required time for changes in teacher or student stations, and a job that is an integral part of the program of study. See POMS § RS 00205.310(B). The students' SSA-1372-BK forms state 20 or more hours per week attendance, but the narrative description of K~ and the website description indicate that the students simply pick up and drop off materials, and then work on their own. Faith Academy's website indicates students must attend at least one science lab to receive credit for science classes, but otherwise neither the website nor the materials provided indicate the students "attend" Faith Academy within the definition of attendance in the POMS. Again, this would require a case-by-case analysis; that is, in order to qualify, a student would have to document "scheduled attendance" of 20 hours per week.

A final possibility is that the Faith Academy program qualifies as independent study. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(2). The independent study program must be run "in accordance with specific State law requirements . . . ." POMS § RS 00205.285(A). We have not found any specific Georgia law that recognizes independent study. Furthermore, Georgia only recognizes public schools, private schools, and home study "programs" as "educational entities." See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(a). Thus, the statute does not limit itself to schools, but also programs of study, and we have found no provision for an independent study program.

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, we believe the claimants enrolled at Faith Academy do not qualify for child's benefits as students based on the information they supplied.

Sincerely
Mary Ann Sloan
Regional Chief Counsel
By: Rollin Mathis
Assistant Regional Counsel

P. PR 08-182 Is an Internet High School Based in Georgia an Educational Institution for an Ohio Resident? Your Reference: S2D5G6 ( T~) Our Reference: 08-198-NC

DATE: Sept. 8, 2008

1. SYLLABUS

The Ashworth University High School, an online institution based in Norcross, Georgia, is not an educational institution (EI) under Georgia law and is, therefore, not an EI for SSA purposes.

2. OPINION

You asked whether an internet high school based in Georgia can be considered an educational institution for an 18-year-old Ohio recipient of survivors benefits. Because the internet high school is based in Georgia, we referred the matter to our OGC office in Region IV, Atlanta, to consider whether the high school could be considered an educational institution under Georgia law. In addition, because the benefit recipient lives in Ohio, we considered whether the school could be considered an educational institution under Ohio law. We conclude that the internet high school is not an educational institution under the laws of either Georgia or Ohio.

BACKGROUND

The number holder, T~, had been entitled to disability benefits from November 1995 until he died in December 1999. His daughter, J~ , born June, received auxiliary benefits until December 1999, when she was converted to survivors benefits. She was terminated when she turned 18 in June 2007.

In July 2007, J~ completed an SSA 1372 stating that she had been attending Ashworth University High School since May 2007 (as confirmed by Ashworth), and that her school year ended in June 2008. She stated that she was scheduled to attend Ashworth over 20 hours a week. An Ashworth school official certified to you that J~ was in "full-time" attendance. J~'s transcript showed that, by December 2007, she had completed four credits, and that she had to earn three more credits to complete her high school degree. An attendance record that J~ kept showed that, in seven months, she had attended Ashworth 421.5 hours, averaging 19.3 hours a week.

Ashworth states on its website, http://www.ashworthuniversity.edu, that it is an online institution based in Norcross, Georgia. It offers a 16-credit general diploma and 22-credit college prepatory diploma. The materials for both diplomas are available online and by correspondence. Ashworth employs a "self-paced, web-based curriculum." A certified teacher is available to provide guidance via email or instant messaging (IM). Ashworth is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Distance Education and Training Council, and the Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation.

Ashworth explicitly recognizes on its website that the Social Security Administration requires at least 20 hours of attendance a week. It states that "since Ashworth students work at their own pace, we cannot verify that students work 20 or more hours per week."

In a telephone interview conducted by OGC Region IV on August 14, 2008, with Renee a registrar for Ashworth, Renee explained that Ashworth is privately owned and not affiliated with the state of Georgia. Renee elaborated that Ashworth does not have any reporting requirements to the state of Georgia, the state's department of education, or any local superintendent of schools. She also said Ashworth does not monitor or report student attendance (that is, the time a student spends on-line engaged in course work).

DISCUSSION

1. Introduction

The Social Security Act provides for the payment of survivors benefits to certain unmarried children of individuals who die fully or currently insured. 42 U.S.C. § 402(d). A child age 18 can continue to receive benefits if the child is unmarried and is a full-time elementary or secondary school student. 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1)(B)(i); see also 20 C.F.R. § 404.350(a)(4)-(5); POMS RS 00205.001A. For purposes of entitlement to child's benefits under this section, a child must be in full-time attendance as a student at an elementary or secondary school, as determined by the Commissioner. 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(7)(A); see also 20 C.F.R. § 404.367; POMS RS 00205.300. The Act further provides that an "elementary or secondary school" is "a school which provides elementary or secondary education, respectively, as determined under the law of the State or other jurisdiction in which it is located." 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(7)(C)(i); see also 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); POMS RS 00205.200A.

2. Ashworth University High School is not an educational institution under Georgia law.

Because Ashworth University High School is based in Georgia, we asked Region IV to assess whether Ashworth is an educational institution under Georgia law. For the following reasons, Region IV advised us that Ashworth is not an educational institution under Georgia law.

Georgia recognizes three types of educational entities: public schools, private schools, and home study programs. Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(a). Ashworth is not a Georgia public school under Georgia law; as Renee, the Ashworth registrar, confirmed, Ashworth is privately owned and is not affiliated with the state of Georgia. To qualify as a "private school," an institution must (1) have providing education as its primary purpose, (2) be privately controlled and operate on a continuing basis, (3) provide instruction each 12 months for the equivalent of 180 school days of education with each school day consisting of at least four and one-half school hours, (4) provide a basic academic educational program that includes reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science, (5) provide to the school superintendent of each local public school district which has residents enrolled in the private school with a list of the name, age, and residence of each resident so enrolled and provide monthly updates of students who enroll or terminate enrollment in the private school, and (6) meet local health and safety standards. Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b).

According to the information furnished, Ashworth does not qualify as a private school under Georgia law. Although Ashworth's on-line degree program provides a basic academic educational program that includes reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science, and Ashworth is privately owned and operated on a continuous basis, Ashworth does not meet the reporting or attendance criteria of Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b). In an interview conducted on August 14, 2008, Renee, a registrar for Ashworth, confirmed that Ashworth is not affiliated with the state of Georgia and does not report student enrollment to the superintendents of the local public school districts, nor to any other state official or department. Renee also explained that although Ashworth, being an on-line program, is in continuous operation, Ashworth does not confirm to the state the actual time of attendance of any individual student, and does not confirm a student attends the equivalent of 180 school days of education with each school day consisting of at least four and one-half school hours. Rather, the Ashworth Student Handbook provides the approximate time it should reasonably take to complete a course in the "self-paced" curriculum. Students are invited to enroll and start at any time; study on their own schedule; and graduate quickly. Because the on-line diploma program does not meet the state's reporting or attendance requirements, Ashworth does not qualify under Georgia law as a "private school."

Georgia also recognizes a home study or home school program as an educational entity. Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c). Parents and guardians may teach their children in a home study program that meets certain requirements. Because Ashworth is not a parent or guardian of the students enrolled in its program, however, it fails as a threshold matter to qualify as a home study program under Georgia law. See Ga. Code Ann.§ 20-2-690(c)(3) ("Parents or guardians may teach only their own children in the home study program . . . ."). Furthermore, Ashworth does not qualify as a home study program under Georgia law because it does not meet the reporting or attendance requirements of the statute. See Ga. Code Ann. §§ 20-2-690(c) (1), (2), (5), (6). These sections require a written declaration listing the names and ages of each home-schooled student be filed with the local superintendent of schools; certification that instruction is provided an equivalent of 180 days per year with each day being at least four and one-half hours; and the monthly submission of attendance records to the local superintendent of schools. Id. As discussed above, Ashworth does not meet these requirements, and thus would not be considered a home study program under Georgia law.

3. Ashworth University High School is not an educational institution under Ohio law.

Since Ashworth does not qualify as an educational institution under Georgia law, and since Ashworth's website suggests that the program may be used to supplement home schooling, we also considered whether Ashworth could be considered a home school, or might otherwise be recognized as an educational institution in Ohio, where J~ resides. We have found no basis, however, for recognizing the school as an educational institution under Ohio law.

Under Ohio law, any child of compulsory school age must attend a school that conforms with the minimum standards of the state board of education. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3321.04. A child may be exempted from public school attendance by the child's local school district superintendent if the child is being instructed at home by a qualified instructor. Id. In such cases, the superintendent must have on file in his or her office a copy of papers showing how the instructor's qualifications were determined. Id.

The Ohio Administrative Code further defines "home education" as education "primarily directed and provided by the parent or guardian of a child." Ohio Admin. Code § 3301-34-01(B). The Ohio Code also requires that, for home schooling, a parent must provide the local superintendent certain information, including an assurance that the child will be provided a minimum of 900 hours of home education each school year. Ohio Admin. Code § 3301-34-03(A)(8).

Ohio state laws also provide for the establishment of community-based charter schools. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3314. These schools also have a compulsory attendance requirement, of 920 hours a year, Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3314.03(A)(11)(a), as well as other requirements.

Finally, Ohio law requires that any child who does not attend a public school must receive instruction which conforms to the state's minimum standards, including the hours and terms of attendance. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3321.07.

The terms of Renee's enrollment at Ashworth do not satisfy the Ohio definition of a home school. Because its classes are unmonitored and self-paced, Ashworth is unable to certify the number of hours of instruction that it provides its students. It explicitly acknowledges this fact in its written materials, and Renee confirmed this in her August 14, 2008 interview. Accordingly, Ashworth does not satisfy Ohio's minimum compulsory education time requirement for home schooling, and thus cannot be considered an educational institution under Ohio law.

Even if it were possible that under certain circumstances J~'s time log might be able to be used to satisfy Ohio's minimum compulsory education time requirement for home schooling, J~'s time logs would also not satisfy Ohio's 900-hour requirement. If J~'s time log represents time that she was attending class, and not doing homework (which generally would not count towards the school attendance requirement), her time log shows that in seven months she had attended Ashworth 421.5 hours. This is well under the 900-hour school attendance minimum required in Ohio.

J~'s Ashworth program also does not satisfy Ohio's home school requirements because it was not approved by a school superintendent. We also note that the Ohio Administrative Code provides that home schooling shall be primarily directed and provided by a parent, which does not appear to be the case here. Therefore, for all of these reasons, Ashworth cannot be considered an educational institution as a home school in Ohio.

We note that the Ohio Supreme Court has recently found that, in certain circumstances, an out-of-state distance-learning home-schooling program can satisfy the requirement that the student attend "any recognized and accredited" high school, even though the out-of-state distance-learning home-schooling program was not approved by the state of Ohio. In Davis v. Davis, the Ohio Supreme Court considered whether the American School, which it termed a "private, distance-learning" high school, was a "recognized and accredited" high school for the purposes of qualifying for ongoing child support payments after reaching age 18 under Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3103.03(B). Davis v. Davis, 873 N.E. 2d 1305 (2007). The court observed that the American School was accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the Distance Education and Training Council, and the Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation. Id. at 1307. These are essentially the same three bodies which accredited Ashworth. The American School was also recognized, however, by the Illinois Board of Education. Id. The court concluded that because the American School was recognized by the state of Illinois, and accredited by three other educational agencies, it was a "recognized and accredited" high school for the purposes of Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3103.03(B).

Significantly, the Ohio Supreme Court noted in D~ that, by modifying the phrase "recognized and accredited" with the expansive adjective "any," the Ohio legislature "acknowledged the mobility of individuals in our society, the educational choices available to them, and the possibility that children may move to or otherwise attend high schools that are recognized and accredited in different jurisdictions." D~, 873 N.E. 2d at 1309-10 (emphasis added). While the question at hand involves different statutory language, we find it significant that Ohio has recognized the possibility that a distance-learning home-schooling high school may, under certain circumstances, constitute an acceptable high school program. But we also note that it may be of significance that the American School was also recognized by a state board of education, whereas Ashworth is not.

We similarly recognize our past opinions finding internet-based home-schooling programs within the state of Ohio to qualify as educational institutions. Whether the Ohio Distance and Electronic Learning Academy Qualifies as an Ohio Educational Institution (July 12, 2005) (J~); Whether the Virtual Schoolhouse Qualifies as an Ohio Educational Institution (May 3, 2005) (J~); Does the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) Qualify as an Educational Institution Under Ohio Law? (Mar. 7, 2002) (L~). But those schools, unlike Ashworth, were established under Ohio state laws providing for the establishment of community-based charter schools which explicitly contemplate the inclusion of internet-based learning. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §§ 3314.02(A)(7), 3314.03(A)(11)(h), 3314.21, 3314.24, 3314.27. Further, state policies require those schools to follow mandatory attendance standards, conduct regular face-to-face teacher-student meetings, hire state-certified teachers, and comply with state-mandated education testing. Ohio Distance and Electronic Learning Academy at p.6 n.7. Those programs thus differ significantly from Ashworth. (We note that since our we wrote our last opinion, the Ohio Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Community Schools Act. State ex rel. Ohio Congress of Parents & Teachers v. State Bd. of Educ., 857 N.E. 2d 1148 (2006).)

We also entertained the possibility that Ashworth might qualify as an educational institution in Ohio under Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3321.07, which excuses a student from Ohio's compulsory school attendance law if he or she is receiving instruction which conforms to the state's minimum standards, including the hours and terms of attendance. But because Ashworth is unable to certify J~'s hours and terms of attendance, it is unable to qualify under this section. If Ashworth were certified by another state, such as Georgia, then it would be more likely that Ohio would recognize it as an educational institution, just as the Ohio Supreme Court recognized the American School in D~. Lacking such certification, however, there is no evidence that Ashworth has been recognized to meet any state's minimum standards. For these reasons, Ashworth also does not qualify as an educational institution under Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3321.07.

CONCLUSION

In sum, we conclude that Ashworth University High School cannot be considered an educational institution under the laws of Georgia or Ohio.

Sincerely
Donna L. Calvert
Regional Chief Counsel
By: Charles R. Goldstein
Assistant Regional Counsel

Q. PR 07-106 Status of Millennium Second Chance Educational Center - Georgia Number Holder - Edward

DATE: March 30, 2007

1. SYLLABUS

The Millennium Second Chance Educational Center (Millennium Center) in Camilla, Georgia, does not meet all of the requirements for recognition as a private school under Georgia law and is, therefore, not an educational institution for SSA purposes.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You asked whether Millennium Second Chance Educational Center meets the requirements of an educational institution for a private school in Georgia.

ANSWER

For the reasons stated below, we believe that Millennium Second Chance Educational Center does not meet the requirements of an educational institution for a private school in Georgia.

BACKGROUND

The Millennium Second Chance Educational Center (Millennium Center) is located in Camilla, Georgia. According to L~, Millennium Center's co-director, the primary purpose of the institution is to provide education for a high school diploma or General Equivalence Degree (GED). Additionally, Millennium Center teaches life skills and job readiness. According to L~, Millennium Center operates under a contract through the Department of Labor workforce investment program. L~ reported that the curriculum of Millennium Center is a high school program offered through online computer classes. K~, an instructor at Millennium Center, reported that the resulting high school diploma is offered through Home Study International, which is associated with Griggs International Academy in Silver Springs, Maryland. The file contains a certificate of approval from the Maryland State Board of Education, dated April 9, 1990, granting Home Study International approval to operate a nonpublic secondary school. The Griggs Academy's website indicates available subjects include business, English, fine arts, health, home economics, history, language, mathematics, religion, and science. Millennium Center's GED program is offered through Thomas Technical College, located in Thomasville, Georgia. Millennium Center is open for operation from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. four days per week, twelve months a year, making it open approximately 192 days a year. L~ confirmed that the building in which Millennium Center is housed meets all state and local ordinances for health and safety standards. L~ stated that Millennium Center keeps attendance records on its attendees and that attendance included only the hours that the attendees are physically at Millennium Center. However, there is no contact with the superintendent of the local public school district, and Millennium Center does not report any information to the public school system regarding its attendees.

DISCUSSION

An individual may be eligible for child's insurance benefits if the individual is a full-time elementary or secondary school student and has not attained the age of 19. Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(B)(i), 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1)(B)(i); see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2006). To be considered an elementary or secondary school student, the child must attend a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under the law of the State or other jurisdiction in which it is located. 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a) (2006).

Georgia statutes recognize three types of educational entities: public schools, private schools, and home study programs. GA. CODE ANN. § 20-2-690(a) (2006). Section 20-2-690(b) specifically deals with private schools and provides in pertinent part as follows:

(b) As used in this subpart, the term "private school" means an institution meeting the following criteria or requirements:

(1) The primary purpose of the institution is to provide education or, if the primary purpose of the institution is religious in nature, the institution shall provide the basic educational program specified in paragraph (4) of this subsection;

(2) The institution is privately controlled and operates on a continuing basis;

(3) The institution provides instruction each 12 months for the equivalent of 180 school days of education with each school day consisting of at least four and one-half school hours;

(4) The institution provides a basic academic educational program which includes, but is not limited to, reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science;

(5) Within 30 days after the beginning of each school year, it shall be the duty of the administrator of each private school to provide to the school superintendent of each local public school district which has residents enrolled in the private school a list of the name, age, and residence of each resident so enrolled. At the end of each school month, it shall be the duty of the administrator of each private school to notify the school superintendent of each local public school district of the name, age, and residence of each student residing in the public school district who enrolls or terminates enrollment at the private school during the immediately preceding school month. Enrollment records and reports shall not be used for any purpose except providing necessary enrollment information, except with the permission of the parent or guardian of a child or pursuant to the subpoena of a court of competent jurisdiction; and

(6) Any building used by the institution for private school purposes meets all health and safety standards established under state law and local ordinances.

GA. CODE ANN. § 20-2-690(b) (2006).

In the present case, Millennium Center appears to meet all of the requirements for recognition as a private school under Georgia law, except for one. As noted above, the Georgia statute includes a reporting requirement that the administrator of the private school must provide to the school superintendent of each local public school district, which has enrolled residents, a list of the name, age, and residence of each resident so enrolled. GA. CODE ANN. § 20-2-690(b)(5). This reporting must occur within thirty days of the beginning of the school year. Id. Additionally, at the end of each school month, the administrator of each private school must notify the school superintendent of each local public school district of the name, age, and residence of each student residing in the public school district who enrolls or terminates enrollment at the private school during the immediately preceding school month. Id. L~, the co-director of Millennium Center, acknowledged that Millennium Center has no contact with the superintendent of any local public school district and thus does not provide this information or meet the reporting requirement of § 20-2-690(b)(5). Because Millennium Center does not meet this requirement of the statute, it is not a private school in Georgia, and not an educational entity.

Although Millennium Center is affiliated with a recognized nonpublic secondary school in Maryland, Home Study International, and Kenyatta asserted that they are "accredited" with the state of Georgia, this does not relieve Millennium Center of the Georgia statute's reporting requirement for recognition as an educational entity. Kenyatta's claim that "they are accredited with the state of Georgia," does not make it clear whether she is referring to Millennium Center or Home Study International. At any rate, the file contains no corroborating evidence from the state of Georgia to support this assertion. Information provided from the website of Griggs Academy, Home Study International's parent institution, indicates that they offer a "Maryland state-approved and regionally-accredited curriculum" and that attendees receive a "Maryland state-recognized report card." While it is conceivable that Home Study International, the Maryland organization through which Millennium Center offers its high school diploma, complies with the reporting requirements of § 20-2-690(b)(5) of the Georgia Code, the file contains no evidence to establish the necessary compliance with the reporting requirements. In fact, the website information from Griggs Academy contradicts such conjecture by stating: "Verification of enrollment upon request."

L~'s statement, which specifically noted that Millennium Center reported no information to the local public school system and also detailed Millennium Center's relationship to the Maryland program, did not mention the possibility that Home Study International reported the required information to the Georgia public school system. The Griggs Academy website acknowledgement that verification of enrollment was available upon request, coupled with L~'s statement, supports a conclusion that the Millennium Center does not meet the reporting requirements of § 20-2-690(b)(5) of the Georgia Code. The Georgia Court of Appeals has specifically noted, "OCGA § 20-2-690(b)(5) requires all administrators of private schools (regardless of location) which teach a student who resides in a Georgia public school district to report that student's attendance to the school superintendent of the public school district." Schwindler v. State, 563 S.E.2d 154, 161 (Ga. Ct. App. 2002). In fact, the statute states, "Any person who operates a private school without complying with the requirements of subsection (b) of this Code section [set out in full above] or any person who operates a home study program without complying with the requirements of subsection (c) of this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $100.00." GA. CODE ANN. § 20-2-690(d) (2006).

In sum, Millennium Center does not meet the reporting requirement of § 20-2-690(b)(5) of the Georgia Code for recognition as a private school in Georgia. Because Millennium Center is not a private school and does not otherwise qualify as an educational entity (public school or home study program), it is not an educational institution under Georgia law.

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, we conclude Millennium Second Chance Educational Center does not qualify as an educational institution in Georgia.

Sincerely
Mary A. Sloan
Regional Chief Counsel
By: Richard V. Blake
Assistant Regional Counsel

R. PR 00-502 Total Learning Center Christian School/McDonough Baptist Tabernacle School — Educational Institution (EI) Determination

DATE: May 17, 1993

1. SYLLABUS

Georgia law recognizes nonpublic schools as educational institutions if they meet the following criteria: (1) The primary purpose of the institution is to provide education. If the primary purpose of the institution is religious in nature, it must provide the basic academic educational program specified in paragraph 4 of this section; (2) The institution is privately controlled and operates on a continuing basis; (3) The institution provides the equivalent of 180 days of four and one-half school hours in each 12 month period of instruction; (4) The institution provides a basic academic educational program that includes, but is not limited to, reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science; (5) The administrator of each private school must furnish to the superintendent of each local public school district that has residents enrolled in the private school a list of the residents so enrolled. The administrator must furnish this list within 30 days after the beginning of each school year, and the list must include the name, age and address of the residents enrolled in the private school. At the end of each school month, the administrator of the private school must furnish to the superintendent of each local public school district a list of students residing in the public school district who enroll or terminate enrollment at the private school during the previous school month. The list must include the name, age and address of any such students; and (6) Any building the institution uses for private schooling must meet all health and safety standards of the state law and local ordinances. Georgia law does not require accreditation for an institution to be considered an educational institution.

2. OPINION

Your office has requested our advice as to whether the Total Learning Center Christian School (TLC) is an educational institution under the laws of the state of Georgia or recognized by the Cobb County School Board. You also requested our advice on the McDonough Baptist Tabernacle School in a later memorandum. We are addressing both situations in this memorandum.

Georgia statutory provisions with respect to private schools are found at Section 20-2-690 of the Official Code of Georgia. Section 20-2-690 provides in pertinent part as follows:

(a) This subpart recognizes the existence of public schools, private schools, and home study programs as educational entities.

(b) As used in this subpart, the term "private school" means an institution meeting the following criteria or requirements:

(1) The primary purpose of the institution is to provide education or, if the primary purpose of the institution is religious in nature, the institution shall provide the basic educational program specified in paragraph (4) of this subsection;

(2) The institution is privately controlled and operates on a continuing basis;

(3) The institution provides instruction each 12 months for the equivalent of 180 school days of education with each school day consisting of at least four and one-half school hours;

(4) The institution provides a basic academic educational program which includes, but is not limited to, reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science;

(5) Within 30 days after the beginning of each school year, it shall be the duty of the administrator of each private school to provide to the school superintendent of each local public school district which has residents enrolled in the private school a list of the name, age, and residence of each resident so enrolled. At the end of each school month, it shall be the duty of the administrator of each private school to notify the school superintendent of each local public school district of the name, age, and residence of each student residing in the public school district who enrolls or terminates enrollment at the private school during the immediately preceding school month. Enrollment records and reports shall not be used for any purpose except providing necessary enrollment information, except with the permission of the parent or guardian of a child or pursuant to the subpoena of a court of competent jurisdiction; and

(6) Any building used by the institution for private school purposes meets all health and safety standards established under state law and local ordinances.

Your memorandum did not provide sufficient information for us to make a determination as to whether Total Learning Center Christian School or McDonough Baptist Tabernacle School are in substantial compliance with Georgia statutes that pertain to private schools. You would certainly want to make certain that they are in compliance with subsections (1) - (4) of the aforementioned statutory provisions. Since the state statutes set forth some very specific requirements with respect to private schools, we feel that it would be appropriate for your office to develop a checklist based on the above statutory provisions which can be utilized in evaluating the status of Total Learning Center Christian School as well as other private schools in Georgia to supplement the questionnaire in the POMS. We would certainly be willing to comment on any such list if you would like to have our input.

We further note that section 20-2-694 of the Official Code of Georgia provides that:

It shall be the duty of each county and independent school system board of education and each local school superintendent within the state to administer this subpart and to secure its enforcement in cooperation with the other state and county agencies and in cooperation with the administrators of private schools and parents or guardians providing a home study program.

Therefore, contact with the local school superintendent could assist in your determination.

We have noted an increase in requests for a determination as to whether a private school or home school situation is an educational institution. We have previously stated in several prior opinions that Georgia and other states in our region do not require accreditation for an institution to be considered an educational institution. Therefore, lack of accreditation will not affect the school's status. Most private schools and home schools will have no accreditation. What the Social Security Administration (SSA) should basically look for is the course of study, the length of the school year, attendance records, the number of students, the number of teachers (certification is not necessary in most states), grade levels, affiliations with other schools or organizations, length of time in existence, any reports made to the local school system, and any organizational documents, if a corporation.

While some states have some other requirements such as immunization, building standards, and reports to local authorities, minor infractions would probably not affect the school's status but only subject the school to some sort of sanctions for non-compliance.

POMS section 01010.820 provides for the resolution of an issue by the payment center where there is an opinion which will resolve an issue. Therefore, while POMS section RS 00205.250B.2 seems to indicate that all determinations of an educational institution should be submitted to our office, we feel that unless SSA detects a significant problem in one of these areas or has another reason to suspect that the school may not comply with state statutes, a determination can be made at the program level that the school is an educational institution (unless it is a state where we have not rendered a prior opinion on educational institutions). If there is some doubt about a school's status, we need specific information on the suspected deficiency with appropriate documentation.

Attachment

ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION 20-2-690

20-2-690 "Educational entities" listed; requirements for private schools and home study programs.

(a) This subpart recognizes the existence of public schools, private schools, and home study programs as educational entities.

(a) As used in this subpart, the term "private school" means an institution meeting the following criteria or requirements:

(1) The primary purpose of this institution is to provide education or, if the primary purpose of the institution is religious in nature, the institution shall provide the basic academic educational program specified in paragraph (4) of this subsection;

(2) The institution is privately controlled and operates on a continuing basis;

(3) The institution provides instruction each 12 months for the equivalent of 180 school days of education with each school day consisting of at least four and one-half school hours;

(4) The institution provides a basic academic educational program which includes, but is not limited to, reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science;

(5) Within 30 days after the beginning of each school year, it shall be the duty of the administrator of each private school to provide to the school superintendent of each local public school district which has residents enrolled in the private school a list of the name, age, and residence of each resident so enrolled. At the end of each school month, it shall be the duty of the administrator of each private school to notify residence of each student residing in the public school the school superintendent of each local public school district of the name, age, and residence of each student residing in the public school district who enrolls or terminates enrollment at the private school during the immediately preceding school month. Enrollment records and reports shall not be used for any purpose except providing necessary enrollment information, except with the permission of the parent or guardian of a child or pursuant to the subpoena of a court of competent jurisdiction; and

(6) Any building used by the institution for private school purposes meets all health and safety standards established under state law and local ordinances.

(c) Parents or guardians may teach their children at home in a home Study program which meets the following requirements:

(1) The parent, parents, or guardian must submit within 30 days after the establishment of a home study program and by September 1 annually thereafter a declaration of intent to utilize a home study program to the superintendent of schools of the local school district in which the home study program is located;

(2) The declaration shall include a list of the names and ages of the students who are enrolled in the home study program, the address where the home study program is located, and a statement of the 12 month period that is to be considered the school year for that home study program. Enrollment records and reports shall not be used for any purpose except providing necessary enrollment information, except with the permission of the parent or guardian of a child or pursuant to the subpoena of a court of competent jurisdiction;

(3) Parents or guardians may teach only their own children in the home study program provided the teaching parent or guardian possesses at least a high school diploma or a general educational development (GED) equivalency diploma, but the parents or guardians may employ a tutor who holds at least a baccalaureate college degree to teach such children;

(4) The borne study program shall provide a basic academic educational program which includes, but is not limited to, reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science;

(5) The home study program must provide instruction each 12 months to home study students equivalent to 180 school days of education with each school day consisting of at least four and one-half school hours unless the child is physically unable to comply with the rule provided for in this paragraph;

(6) Attendance records for the home study program shall be kept and shall be submitted at the end of each month to the school superintendent of the local school district in which the home study program is located.

Attendance records and reports shall not. be used for any purpose except providing necessary attendance information, except with the permission of the parent or guardian of a child or pursuant to the subpoena of a court of competent jurisdiction;

(7) Students in home study programs shall be subject to an appropriate nationally standardized testing program administered in consultation with a person trained in the administration and interpretation of norm reference tests to evaluate their educational progress at least every three years beginning at the end of the third grade and records of such tests and scores shall be retained but shall not be required to be submitted to public educational authorities; and

(8) The home study program instructor shall write an annual progress assessment report which shall include the instructor's individualized assessment of the student's academic progress in each of the subject areas specified in paragraph (4) of this subsection, and such progress reports shall be retained by the parent, parents, or guardian of children in the home study program for a period of at least three years.

(d) Any person who operates a private school without complying with the requirements of subsection (b) of this Code section or any person who operates a home study program without complying with the requirements of subsection (c) of this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $100.00.

(e) The State Board of Education shall devise, adopt, and make available to local school superintendents, who shall in turn make available to administrators of private schools and parents or guardians with children in home study programs, such printed forms and procedures shall not be inconsistent or exceed the requirements of this Code section. (Code 1981, § 20-2-690, enacted by Ga. L. 1984, p. 1266, § 1; Ga. L. 1985, p. 149. § 20; Ga. L. 1986, p. 10, § 20.)

Cross references. — Characterization as "unruly" of child who is habitually truant from school, § 16-11-2(12)(A). Disposition of child found by juvenile court to be unruly, § 15-11-36. Editor's notes. — Section 1 of Ga. L. 1984, p. 1266 repealed former Code Section 21-2-690 and substituted in lieu thereof present Code Sections 20-2-690 and, 20-2-690.1. Present Code Section 20-2-690.1 is essentially a continuation of the provisions of former Code Section 20-2-690. See the editor's notes to Code Section 20-2-690.1.

Law reviews. - For note, "A Constitutional Analysis of Compulsory School Attendance Laws in the Southeast Do They Unlawfully Interfere with Alternatives to Public Education?", see 8 Ga. St. U.L Rev. 457 (1992).

OPINIONS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

Requiring parents to produce evidence of compliance. — While responsibility for the enforcement of the statutory requirements to home study programs rests in large measure upon local school superintendent, a local school superintendent does not have the power to issue subpoenas, require the production of documents, or to otherwise require parents to affirmatively "produce evidence" of their continuing compliance with the law in the operation of home study programs, and while the local school superintendent is free to "request" such materials and statements, he has no compulsory process which can be invoked to secure such information other than in connection with a pending legal proceeding, 1986 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U86-19.

RESEARCH REFERENCES

Am. Jur. 2d. - 42 Am. Jur. 2d. Infants. § 21. 69 Am. Jur. 2d, Schools, §§ 228-233.

C.J.S. — 78A C.J.S., Schools and School Districts 734, 735, 737, 738, 740.

ALR — Schools: extent of legislative power with respect to attendance and curriculum, 39 ALR 477, 53 ALA 832.

Religious beliefs of parents as defense to prosecution for failure to comply with compulsory education law, 3 ALR2d 1401.

What constitutes a private, parochial, or denominational school within statute making attendance at such school a compliance with compulsory school attendance law, 65 ALR3d 1222.

Validity of local or state denial of public 20-2-694. Administration and enforcement of subpart.

It shall be the duty of each county and independent school system board of education and each local school superintendent within the state to administer this subpart and to secure its enforcement in cooperation with the other state and county agencies and in cooperation with the administrators of private schools and parents or guardians providing a home study program. (Ga. L. 1945, p. 343, § 4; Ga. L. 1984, p. 1266, § 3.)

OPINIONS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

Provisions neither not prohibit parents from sending children to school during teachers absence. - Sections 20-2-690 through 20-2-694 neither authorize nor prohibit a school from directing the parents of children whose teacher is absent not to send their children to school during the teacher's absence. 1952-53 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 331.

RESEARCH REFERENCES

Am. Jur. 2d. - 68 Am. jut. 2d, Schools, § 233. C.J.S. - 79 C.J.S, Schools and School Districts, § 470. l


Footnotes:

[1]

. All regulatory citations are to the 2017 Code of Federal Regulations.

[2]

. All references to the Georgia Code are to the West 2017 version.

[3]

. All references to the Georgia Compilation of Rules and Regulations are to the 2017 version.

[4]

. All regulatory citations are to the 2016 Code of Federal Regulations.

[5]

. All references to the Georgia Code are to the West 2016 version.

[6]

. . All references to 20 C.F.R. are to the 2016 version.

[7]

. All references in this legal opinion to “C.F.R.” refer to the 2015 version.

[8]

. All references to the Georgia Code are to the West 2016 version.

[9]

. The website for the Douglas County School District, the county in which the city of Douglasville is located, also does not list HECG as a private or online school. See https://dcsdk12.org/schoollevel/high-school?field_district_city_tid=All&field_school_
type_tid=86&field_department_region_tid=All&=Apply (last visited Aug. 16, 2016).

[10]

. [1] All references to 20 C.F.R. are to the 2016 version.

[11]

. [2] All references to the Georgia Code are to the West 2016 version.

[12]

. [1] All references to 20 C.F.R. are to the 2016 version.

[13]

. [2] All references to the Ga. Code Ann. are to the West 2016 version unless otherwise noted.

[14]

. A State-chartered special school is a charter school operating under the terms of charter between the state Board of Education and the charter petitioner. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-2062(1), (16) (West 2016). Once the state Board of Education approves a charter, the school must meet the requirements of its charter, as well as any other applicable state law requirements such as reporting and accountability requirements. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-2065 (West 2016).

[15]

. All references in this legal opinion to “C.F.R.” refer to the 2015 version.

[16]

. Mount de Sales Academy is a private Catholic secondary school in Macon, Georgia. See Mount de Sales, http://www.mountdesales.net/ (last visited Mar. 31, 2015).

[17]

. All references to 20 C.F.R. are to the 2014 version.

[18]

. All references to the Georgia Code are to the West 2015 version. Georgia refers to a home school program as a “home study program.” Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(a).

[19]

. The Georgia DOE website does not include KDDS in its list of Georgia private schools. See https://app3.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/psc_pack_mainmenu.pvsch_list_public?p_sort=1 (last visited Mar. 30, 2015). However, the website does not indicate whether its list of private schools is exhaustive. See Georgia DOE, Schools and Districts, http://www.gadoe.org/External-Affairs-and-Policy/AskDOE/Pages/Schools-and-Districts.aspx (last visited Mar. 30, 2015).

[20]

. The Georgia Legislature amended subsection (6) of Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c), effective July 2013, to grant authority to a parent or guardian to execute any document required by law to evidence a child’s enrollment and attendance in a home study program. See 2013 Ga. Laws 335. Prior to the amendment, the statute required submission of attendance records annually to the Georgia DOE. See 2012 Ga. Laws 642.

[21]

. It is not clear if Claimant’s mother is aware of the requirement to submit the Home Study DOI to the Georgia DOE rather than the local school district. Claimant’s mother completed and signed a Home Study DOI on August XX, 2014. However, the Home Study DOI appears to be on an outdated version of the form. For example, the form indicates it is from 2005, and it directs the parent or guardian to submit the DOI to the student’s local school district rather than the Georgia DOE. Additionally, in an undated letter to SSA, Claimant’s mother stated she continues to contact the local school district regarding Claimant’s home schooling, even though she acknowledges that the local school district “no longer has a home school office.”

[22]

. Georgia requires standardized testing of home school students every three years beginning in third grade, and thus Claimant would be required to take a standardized test in third, sixth, ninth, and twelfth grades. See GA. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(7).

[23]

. All references to the Code of Federal Regulations are to the 2014 version.

[24]

. All references to the N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. are to the West 2014 version.

[25]

. All references to 20 C.F.R. are to the 2012 version unless otherwise noted.

Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001. To qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student,” a beneficiary must attend an educational institution, i.e., a school that provides elementary or secondary education (twelfth grade or below) as determined under the law of the State in which the school is located. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (C)(i), (C)(ii); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (e); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.200.A.

A beneficiary also must attend school full time to qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.300.A. A beneficiary attending an online school is in full-time attendance if he or she is attending an educational institution and meets both State and Federal standards for full-time attendance. See POMS RS 00205.295.B; POMS RS 00205.300.A. A beneficiary meets the State standards if the school considers the beneficiary to be a full-time student based on the school’s standards and practices. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.300.B; POMS RS 00205.350.C.1. A beneficiary meets the Federal standards if he or she is scheduled to attend school at the rate of twenty hours per week, enrolled in a noncorrespondence course, and enrolled in a course of study that is of at least thirteen weeks duration. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300.C.

[26]

. The regulations and POMS do not appear to define “noncorrespondence course” or “correspondence course.” However, the POMS defines “correspondence school” as “a school that teaches by mailing lessons and exercises to the student. Upon completion, the student returns the exercises to the school for grading.” POMS RS 00205.330.A.

[27]

. Although Beneficiary is beyond her sixteenth birthday, “a home school must comply with State law for the child to be entitled as a student even if he/she is beyond the State's compulsory education age.” POMS RS 00205.275B.

[28]

. All references to the Ga. Code Ann. are to the West 2012 version unless otherwise noted.

[29]

. All references to the Code of Federal Regulations are to the 2012 version.

[30]

. Paxen may meet two of the requirements to be a private school under Georgia law. Paxen appears to be a privately controlled institution that operates on a continuing basis. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(2). Paxen’s GED program also appears to provide a basic academic educational program. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(4) (requiring institution to provide “basic academic educational program which includes, but is not limited to, reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science”). Paxen’s GED program concentrates on several test areas, including math, reading, science, social studies, and writing. Paxen Bookstore (visited Oct. 23, 2012) http://.paxen.com/bookstore/ged-prep-xcelerator-complete-set. Paxen holds classes apparently at its location in Athens, Georgia, http://.paxen.com//, but the provided information does not show this location meets all health and safety standards established under Georgia law and local ordinance. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(6).

[31]

. Although the GED program’s primary purpose may be education (rather than test preparation), this would not show Beneficiary is a full-time elementary or secondary student. The GED program lasts only four weeks and therefore does not meet all the other requirements for private schools under Georgia law. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(3) (requiring institution to provide instruction each year for the equivalent of 180 school days of education); Paxen, http://www.paxen.com/georgia/athens. Additionally, even if the GED program standing alone could qualify as an educational institution, Beneficiary still would not meet the Federal standards for full-time attendance. ---------------


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/1507905012
PR 07905.012 - Georgia - 08/08/2017
Batch run: 08/08/2017
Rev:08/08/2017