Public schools are free schools. Schools are organized into school districts. The school district can help families enroll their children, sign up for a free bus, and find programs like tutoring and free lunch.
Georgia requires children go to school from their 6th birthday to their 16th birthday. Children 6 – 16 years old MUST be enrolled in and attend school. DeKalb County’s International Welcome Center enrolls international students their first year in the U.S. Call or visit them before the school year starts. They will ask for:
- Copies, front and back, of the child and parents’ I-94
- The child’s social security card, proof of application for a card, or social security waiver
- Certificate of Vision, Hearing, and Dental Examination
- Certificate of Immunization or immunization waiver
- Proof of residence
Examples: a gas, water, or electric bill; signed lease; signed mortgage agreement
- The child’s transcripts and discipline records from previous schools (if applicable)
- A completed Student Information Form, Home Language Survey, Interview Form, and Ethnicity Survey (available at International Welcome Center)
- Proof of guardianship if not the child’s birth parent (Power of Attorney or contact the DeKalb County Probate Court at 404-371-2718)
To re-enroll a child who has already attended school in the U.S., visit the child’s school for their enrollment requirements. Contact your resettlement agency for more assistance enrolling children in school.
TYPES OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K): Pre-K is for children who are 4 years old on or before September 1st. Pre-K is not required but helps children practice English and provides child care for working parents. For more information, see Youth Services.
Kindergarten: Kindergarten is for children 5 years old on or before September 1st. Kindergarten is not required but helps children practice English, learn skills that he or she will need later in school, and provides child care for working parents.
Elementary School: Elementary school is for kindergarten – 5th grade. Children are REQUIRED to enroll in elementary school for 1st grade when a child is 6 years old on or before September 1st.
Middle School: Middle school is for grades 6th – 8th or when a child is 11 years old on or before September 1st. Middle school is REQUIRED.
High School: High school is for grades 9th – 12th or for children 14 years old on or before September 1st. High school is REQUIRED until a child’s 16th birthday. Even though the last years of high school are not required, it is very important children graduate. Most jobs require a high school diploma and people who do not graduate high school cannot find good jobs in the U.S. Also, children must be in school to get their driver’s licenses.
U.S. law says students who are 21 years old on or before September 1st can no longer attend public school, even if they have not graduated high school. Refugee teenagers are often placed in grades with younger students so they can meet all of the requirements for graduation. This places many refugee teenagers at high risk of aging out, or being required to stop school because of their age.
If a child is at risk of aging out or has already aged out, it is important for him or her to continue studying and earn a GED, which is the equivalent to a high school diploma. Remember, a high school diploma (or GED) is required for most jobs in the U.S. and for children to become self-sufficient.
DEKALB COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOL SERVICES
DeKalb County School District
1701 Stone Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain 30083
International Welcome Center
Assists non-native English speakers who are new in the U.S. to enroll their children in school and access school services.
1701 Mountain Industrial Road, Stone Mountain 30083
August-May: M-F 8:30am-2pm; July-August: appointment required
Free Lunch Application
Download this application (available in 34 languages) to apply for free school meals for children. Return the form to the child’s school or mail it to School Nutrition Scanning Office, 5855 Memorial Drive, Stone Mountain GA 30083. This form must be filled out for EACH school-aged child in a family at the beginning of EVERY school year.
Manages DeKalb County’s school buses.
ADDITIONAL SCHOOL SERVICES
New American Pathways
Assists parents enroll their children in school, navigate the school system, and communicate with school teachers and staff through the School Liaison Program.
2300 Henderson Mill Road NE, Suite 100, Atlanta 30345
GED AND ADULT EDUCATION SERVICES
Educate the USA
Provides a list of GED courses in the Atlanta area.
Provides over 175 classes for adults in three 15-week semesters on reading, writing, mathematics, computers, and GED preparation. Classes are offered in their Atlanta and Decatur offices.
246 Sycamore Street, Suite 110, Decatur 30030
100 Edgewood Avenue NE, Suite 650, Atlanta 30303
404-377-7323 (Decatur) or 404-818-7323 (Atlanta)
Technical College System of Georgia
Provides information on the GED and a list of GED courses in DeKalb County.