Open Enrollment Policies: State Profile

Open Enrollment Policies: State Profile - Arkansas

Last updated: October 2017

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: students transfer to another school within their resident school district.
  • Interdistrict: students transfer a school outside of their resident district.

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

  • 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.
  • States with both mandatory and voluntary policies usually require mandatory open enrollment in low-performing schools or districts, in defined regions of the state or in other specific circumstances while 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.


Open Enrollment Survey 2017
Does the state have open enrollment programs? Yes, mandatory interdistrict, with some limitations; mandatory interdistrict for students attending a school districts classified as being in facilities distress. 

Students may apply to transfer to a school in any school district. Each school year sending school districts are subject to a limit on the number of school choice transfers they may allow. The limit is 3% of the previous school year's enrollment, minus any school choice transfers into the district. Students transferred out of a district in facilities distress and foster students are not included in the cap. Students denied a transfer may request a hearing with the state board. Districts must adopt standards for accepting or rejecting applications, which may include lack of capacity of a program, class, grade level or building. Students may only have one open-enrollment transfer per school year but may return to their resident school district or enroll in private or home school during the school year. 

Students attending a school district classified as in need of Level 5 - Intensive Support may transfer to another school district without a Level 5 - Intensive Support classification.

Citations: Ark. Code Ann. § 6-18-227; § 6-18-1901 to § 6-18-1908; § 6-15-2915; § 6-21-812

Do desegregation provisions impact open enrollment programs? Desegregation court orders or court-approved plans have precedence over the open enrollment statutes. School districts claiming a conflict under an order or plan must provide proof of a genuine conflict.

Citations: Ark. Code Ann. § 6-18-1906, § 6-18-227 Code Ark. R. 005.23.8-7.00

Does the state set priorities for districts to follow when accepting students for open enrollment? Yes. School districts must give priority to siblings if space is available. During the first year a school district is not subject to transfer limits, sending districts must give first priority to students unable to transfer due to transfer limits in prior years. 

Citations: Ark. Code Ann. § 16-18-1903, § 16-18-1906 Code Ark. R. 005.23.8-4.00, R. 005.23.8-7.00

Who is responsible for student transportation? Parents are responsible for transportation. Receiving districts may enter into an agreement with the student, student's parent, or the sending district to provide transportation. When a student transfers from a school district under facilities distress, the sending district must pay for transportation.

Citations: Ark. Code Ann. § 6-18-1904, § 6-21-812


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