Does the state have open enrollment programs?


Does the state have open enrollment programs?

Last updated: November 2015

Open-enrollment policies allow a student to transfer to a public school of his or her choice. There are two basic types of open-enrollment policies:

  • Intradistrict allows students to transfer to another school within the student’s resident school district.
  • Interdistrict allows students to transfer a school outside of the student’s resident district.

Depending on the state, open-enrollment policies are either mandatory or voluntary.  

  • Mandatory policies require districts to participate in the program.
  • Voluntary policies allow districts to choose whether to participate in open enrollment, often allowing school districts the discretion to enter into transfer agreements with other districts.
  • Several states have both mandatory and voluntary policies, usually requiring mandatory open enrollment in low-performing schools or districts, in defined regions of the state or in other specific circumstances and allowing voluntary open enrollment in the rest of the state.

View the full open enrollment database here.  Please contact Micah Ann Wixom (303.299.3673 or mwixom@ecs.org) with questions or comments.


Does the state have open enrollment programs?
Alabama No. However, there are open enrollment provisions specific to charter schools.
Alaska Yes, mandatory intradistrict for students attending a school designated as persistently dangerous.
Arizona Yes, mandatory intradistrict and interdistrict. School districts must establish open enrollment policies, including admission criteria and application procedures.
Arkansas Yes, mandatory interdistrict. Mandatory intradistrict and interdistrict for students attending schools or districts in academic or facilities distress.

Interdistrict: Students may apply to transfer to a school in any school district. There is a limit on the number of school choice transfers a sending district may allow each school year, minus any school choice transfers into the district, of 3% of the previous year's enrollment. Students transferred out of a district in academic or facilities distress are not included in the cap.

Transfers for academic or facilities distress: Students attending a school or a school district classified as being in academic or facilities distress are eligible to transfer to another school within the district or another school district not in academic or facilities distress.

Districts must adopt standards for accepting or rejecting applications, which may include lack of capacity of a program, class, grade level or building.
California

Yes, voluntary intradistrict and interdistrict. Under the Open Enrollment Act, mandatory intradistrict and interdistrict for students attending low-performing schools and/or districts.

Voluntary: School district governing boards may decide to accept interdistrict transfers. In addition, school districts may enter into an agreement, for up to 5 years, for interdistrict transfers. Sending districts may limit transfers in the following circumstances:

  • Districts with 50,000+ students may limit transfer to 1% of the current year estimated average daily attendance.
  • Districts with fewer than 50,000 students may limit transfers to 3% of current year estimated average daily attendance.
  • Districts with a negative status on their budget certification may limit the number of transfers.
  • If the district would not meet fiscal stability standards due to student transfers.

Mandatory: The State Superintendent of Public Instruction must create an annual list of 1,000 low-performing schools. Parents of students in one of these schools may apply to transfer to another public school in the district or in another district. No more than 10% of a district's schools may be on the list. A receiving district may adopt standards for acceptance and rejection of applications, which may include program, class, grade level, or building capacity.

Colorado Yes, mandatory intradistrict and interdistrict.

The receiving district may deny enrollment for the following reasons: lack of space or teaching staff; program requested is not offered; lacks capacity to meet special needs; student does not meet eligibility criteria for participating in a particular program; denial necessary to maintain desegregation plan compliance; student has been expelled for specific reasons.
Connecticut Yes, voluntary intradistrict and both voluntary and mandatory interdistrict. Interdistrict programs are required in four cities and optional in priority school districts.
Delaware Yes, mandatory intradistrict and interdistrict.

Enrollment may be denied due to "lack of capacity," defined as projected enrollment at 85% of capacity.
District of Columbia Yes, voluntary intradistrict. Students may apply for a transfer if the student's sibling attends the requested school, if the student lives within a reasonable walking distance, or if the student's parent prefers the requested school. Transfers are approved by the Chancellor.
Florida Yes, voluntary intradistrict and interdistrict. In addition, the state's Opportunity Scholarship Program provides students attending or assigned to failing public schools with the option to attend a higher-performing public school.
Georgia Yes, mandatory intradistrict if space is available. Voluntary interdistrict if the sending district does not have space or if the student lives closer to a school in the receiving district; additionally, school districts may enter into a transfer contract with another district.
    Intradistrict: Districts must allow intradistrict transfers when all of the following conditions are met and if space is available:
    • Classroom space is not available in the assigned school and is available at the requested school after all resident students are enrolled.
    • The parent submits a written request.
    • The local school board approves.
    Interdistrict: Districts may allow transfers under the following circumstances:
    • Transportation time to the student's assigned school is 45 minutes longer than the receiving school and the distance to the student's assigned school is at least 15 miles further than the receiving school. 
    • Classroom space is available in the requested school.
    • The parent submits a written request.
    • Both local school boards approve.
    Hawaii Yes, voluntary intradistrict (interdistrict is unavailable because Hawaii only has one school district). Open enrollment is allowed when mandated by the Department of Education or federal law. Other transfer requests are granted at the discretion of the Department of Education. Transferring students must provide a certificate of release from the sending school.
    Idaho Yes, mandatory intradistrict and interdistrict. School boards may create written agreements for transferring students between districts.

    A receiving school district is not required to admit a transfer student if the transfer would be a hardship. Local school boards must adopt policies defining specific standards for accepting or rejecting transfer students from other districts. Standards may include the capacity of a program, class, grade level or school building to accept transfer students. 
    Illinois Unclear. Although there are provisions for open enrollment in statute, the state was exempted from the No Child Left Behind choice provisions under their NCLB waiver (per the Illinois State Board of Education).
    Indiana Yes, voluntary interdistrict; mandatory intradistrict or interdistrict within Indianapolis city schools.

    Voluntary: Parents may request to transfer the student to another school district in the state if the student can be better accommodated because of crowded conditions, curriculum offerings, for medical reasons or if the student's school is not fully accredited. Requests must be made in writing. Districts may have a policy for accepting or rejecting open enrollment students.

    Districts without a policy for accepting or rejecting transfer applications are required to establish and publish the number of transfer students it will accept. However, districts without an interdistrict open enrollment policy must accept transferring students when all of the following criteria are met:
    • The student attended a private school in the district's attendance area for at least the two preceding school years.
    • The student is transferring because the student's resident district does not offer grades 9-12.
    • The majority of students in the same grade of the transferring student are residents of the school district.
    • The district has capacity to accept students.
    Mandatory: Indianapolis city schools must allow intradistrict transfers. The school board must establish priorities for student assignment. Student assignments are made if space is available.
    Iowa Yes, mandatory interdistrict. Parents may request open enrollment to another district and may request a preferred school, but the district has authority to determine what school the child will attend.

    Districts may opt out because of space availability and districts must have a policy defining "insufficient classroom space." District policies for accepting or denying transfers may include one or more the following:
    • Nature of the educational program.
    • Grade level. 
    • Availability of instructional staff.
    • Instructional method.
    • Availability of physical space.
    • Student-teacher ratio.
    • Equipment and materials.
    • Facilities planned, under construction, or closing.
    • Finances available.
    • Sharing agreement in force or planned.
    • Bargaining agreement in force.
    • Rules governing special education.
    • Class size.
    • Board-adopted district educational goals and objectives.
    School districts may not deny open enrollment to the following students: 
    • Siblings of currently enrolled students.
    • Students who have moved out of the resident district but wish to remain in the district as an open enrollment student.
    • Students transferring due to harassment.
    • Students transferring for health reasons that cannot be adequately addressed by the resident district.
    Districts that cannot grant open enrollment requests must create a waiting list.
    Kansas Yes, voluntary interdistrict. Boards of education may create agreements to allow transfers between districts.
    Kentucky Yes, mandatory intradistrict and voluntary interdistrict.

    Intradistrict: Parents must be allowed to send students to the public school nearest their home within their school district attendance area.

    Interdistrict: School districts may enter into a written agreement with other districts to allow students to attend school in a nonresident district.
    Louisiana Yes, mandatory intradistrict and voluntary and mandatory interdistrict; mandatory intradistrict and interdistrict for low-performing schools and schools in the Recovery School District.

    Voluntary: School boards may enter into an agreement to allow students to transfer to a school in a neighboring parish.

    Mandatory:
    • When the transportation time to a student's assigned school is longer than a prescribed amount, the student must be allowed to attend a closer school in another district.
    • Students attending schools identified as persistently dangerous must be allowed to transfer to another school in the district.
    • For schools designated as academically unacceptable, districts must develop a school choice policy, including transfer options.
    • Any school transferred in or out of the Recovery School District must maintain open enrollment policies.
    Maine Yes, voluntary intradistrict and interdistrict. 
    Maryland No.
    Massachusetts Yes, voluntary interdistrict and intradistrict. School committees may establish terms for accepting nonresident students.
    Michigan Yes, mandatory intradistrict for low-performing schools; voluntary intradistrict and interdistrict at the intermediate district level.

    Mandatory: Students attending a school that has been unaccredited for three consecutive years must be allowed to attend another school within the school district.

    Voluntary: Intermediate districts may allow students to attend other school districts within the intermediate district or may accept transfer students residing in a contiguous intermediate district. Receiving school districts may make determinations about the grades, schools and special programs for which open enrollment is available. The receiving school district may limit the number of nonresident students it accepts in a grade, school or program.
    Minnesota Yes, mandatory interdistrict.

    Receiving school districts may limit enrollment of nonresident students and must adopt standards for accepting or rejecting applications.
    Mississippi Yes, voluntary interdistrict; mandatory interdistrict for students residing more than 30 miles away from their assigned school. The school boards of sending and receiving districts must enter into an agreement.
    Missouri Yes, voluntary interdistrict; mandatory interdistrict for unaccredited schools or districts.

    Voluntary: School boards may enter into transfer agreements. If a student's location of residence creates an unsual or unreasonable transportation hardship due to natural barriers, travel time, or distance, the commissioner of education may allow the student to attend another district. Receiving districts may set enrollment capacity limits by grade level, school building, and education program. They may also deny a transfer application if the student lives more than 10 miles from the receiving district or if the location of the student's assigned school is closer than the school the student would be attending in the receiving district.

    The Metropolitan Schools Achieving Value in Transfer Corporation is a voluntary school transfer program in for school districts in St. Louis that allows students to transfer to other schools in participating districts. The program is headed by a board of directors.

    Mandatory: Students assigned to an unaccredited school must be allowed to attend an accredited school in another district in the same or an adjoining county.
    Montana Yes, voluntary intradistrict and interdistrict; mandatory interdistrict for geographic access issues.

    Voluntary: The sending and receiving districts enter into an attendance agreement that sets forth the financial obligations, if any, for tuition and for costs incurred for transportation. Receiving districts may reject an out-of-district attendance agreement if the school's accreditation would be adversely affected by the transfer because of insufficient room. However, this does not apply to students with disabilities who live in the district.

    Mandatory: Interdistrict open enrollment is mandatory when one of the following applies:
    • The child resides closer to the receiving school and more than three miles from his or her resident school and the resident district does not provide transportation.
    • It is impractical for the child to attend school in the resident district due to geographic conditions between the child's home and school based on criteria including a bus ride of more than one hour each way for an elementary child, distance traveled of 40+ miles one way on a dirt road or 60+ miles one way, or whether the condition of the road or a geographic barrier, such as a river or mountain pass, causes a hazard that prohibits safe travel.
    • The child is a member of a family that is required to send another child outside of the elementary district to attend high school and the younger child may more conveniently attend an elementary school where the high school is located if the child resides more than three miles from an elementary school in the resident district or if parent is required to move to the elementary district where the high school is located to enroll another child in high school.
    • The child is under the protective care of a state agency, or has been adjudicated to be a youth in need of intervention or a delinquent youth.
    • The child is required to attend school outside of the district of residence as the result of a placement in foster care or a group home.
    Nebraska Yes, mandatory intradistrict, with some limitations, and mandatory interdistrict.

    Districts are required to adopt standards for acceptance and rejection of open enrollment option applications. Standards may include the capacity of a program, class, grade level, or school building or the availability of appropriate special education programs. Denial of a student's open enrollment application may be appealed to the state board of education.
    Nevada Yes, voluntary interdistrict.

    Receiving school districts may admit students living in an adjoining school district. In addition, a student who resides on an Indian reservation located in two or more counties must be allowed to attend the school nearest to his or her residence, regardless of the student's resident school district. State law also provides a program of school choice for children in foster care.
    New Hampshire Yes, voluntary interdistrict and intradistrict. 

    Open enrollment school districts may impose limits on the number of non-resident students who attend schools in and out of the district. Schools may limit enrollment in specific programs and may select on basis of aptitude, academic achievement or need. 
    New Jersey Yes, voluntary interdistrict. The state's interdistrict public school choice program creates choice districts, and school districts apply to the Commissioner of Education to participate as one of the choice districts. Receiving districts admit students if space is available. A sending district may restrict the number of students who transfer to another district to a maximum of 10% of students per grade level per year and 15% of total enrolled students per year.

    To participate, students must have attended school in the sending district for at least one full year immediately preceding enrollment in the receiving district. However, this requirement is not applicable to prekindergarten or kindergarten students and may be waived if a receiving district does not fill all available transfer spaces.
    New Mexico Yes, voluntary intradistrict and interdistrict. Boards of receiving school districts may admit non-resident students if space is available. In addition, students attending a low-performing school must be allowed to transfer to another school.
    New York Yes, through the voluntary interdistrict "urban-suburban transfer program" which was designed to reduce racial isolation by allowing minority students to transfer in and out of participating urban and suburban school districts. Participating districts must provide policies about student participation for transferring students. Private school students must have an opportunity to participate in the program.
    North Carolina No.
    North Dakota Yes, voluntary interdistrict.

    School boards may decide to participate in open enrollment. The board of each participating district must set standards for accepting or rejecting applications, which may address program, class, grade level, or building capacity.
    Ohio Yes, voluntary interdistrict; mandatory intradistrict and interdistrict for students attending an alternative school.

    Voluntary: The boards of all school districts must pass policies denying or allowing enrollment by students from (1) adjacent school districts or (2) any school district. Participating receiving districts must have policies and procedures for admitting students, including district capacity limits by grade level, school building, and education program.

    Mandatory: The boards of all school districts must have interdistrict and intradistrict open enrollment programs allowing students to enroll in an alternative school in the same district or another school district. The board of education for each school district must have open enrollment policies for students enrolling in an alternative school, including application procedures and district capacity limits by grade level, school building, and education program.
     
    Oklahoma Yes, voluntary interdistrict; mandatory interdistrict for children of active-duty military personnel who meet specific criteria.

    Students may transfer to other districts with the approval of the receiving district's board of education, and boards must automatically approve transfers for students seeking to enroll in a grade not offered by the sending district. Participating school districts must create policies for accepting or rejecting transfer applications, including criteria about the availability of programs, staff or space.
    Oregon Yes, voluntary interdistrict. Districts may enter into agreements with each other for open enrollment transfers.
    Pennsylvania Yes, voluntary interdistrict.
    Rhode Island Yes, voluntary interdistrict and intradistrict. 
    South Carolina Yes, voluntary interdistrict. When students live closer to a school in an adjacent district, school officials from the sending and receiving districts may make arrangements for the students to transfer to the closer school.
    South Dakota Yes, mandatory intradistrict and interdistrict.

    Local school boards must create standards for accepting and rejecting applications, which may only address the capacity of a program, class, grade level or school building.
    Tennessee Yes, voluntary intradistrict and interdistrict.

    Intradistrict: Local boards of education may allow parents to choose a school where the student will attend.

    Interdistrict: Receiving districts may admit students without the approval of a sending district up to two weeks before a school year and with the sending district's approval after that. In addition, local boards of education may enter into agreements to transfer students between the districts.
    Texas Yes, mandatory intradistrict and interdistrict. In addition, students attending low-performing schools are eligible for intradistrict or interdistrict transfers under the public education grant program.

    Intradistrict: School districts must grant a parent's request to transfer a student to another school within the district unless there is reasonable basis for denying the request. Decisions are made on an individual basis.

    Interdistrict: Students are allowed to transfer out a resident district if the receiving district and parents agree. School districts may also enter into transfer agreements.
    Utah Yes, mandatory interdistrict and intradistrict.

    School boards of receiving districts adopt policies governing acceptance and rejection of transfer applications and designate which schools and programs are available for open enrollment during the following school year. Schools are open for enrollment of nonresident students if the school's enrollment level is at or below the open enrollment threshold, although school boards may allow nonresident students in schools operating above the threshold. Standards for accepting or rejecting may include:
    • Lack of capacity in a grade level (for elementary schools) or other special program.
    • Maintaining reduced class sizes.
    • Maintaining a heterogeneous student population.
    • Priority may be given to intradistrict transfers over interdistrict transfers. 
    • Siblings attending school in the receiving district. 
    Vermont Yes, mandatory interdistrict and intradistrict for high schools. All districts with high schools must enter into an agreement with at least one other district to form a school choice region.

    With certain limitations, students are free to enroll in any high school in the school choice region. Local boards of education may set guidelines that include limits based on the capacity of the program, class and building and the financial impact. 
    Virginia Yes, voluntary interdistrict and intradistrict. Receiving districts may implement their own admissions processes and priorities.
    Washington Yes, mandatory intradistrict and voluntary and mandatory interdistrict. Districts are "strongly encouraged" to allow parents to transfer students to another district when requested.

    Districts must consider all applications equally and create standards for acceptance or rejection. Additionally, a sending district must allow an interdistrict transfer under certain circumstances, including accesibility to a parent's workplace or child care location, when the receiving district agrees. Receiving districts may deny a transfer if it would create a financial hardship for the district.
    West Virginia Yes, voluntary intradistrict and interdistrict.
    Wisconsin Yes, voluntary intradistrict and mandatory interdistrict. All school districts must adopt policies for accepting and rejecting interdistrict transfers. Criteria may include availability of space in schools, programs, classes or grades. Districts may also consider class size limits, student-teacher ratios and enrollment projects. Sending districts may limit the number or percentage of resident students transferring to other school districts.
    Wyoming Yes, voluntary interdistrict and intradistrict. Any district within the state may admit pupils who are residents of other districts if space is available.

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