Open Enrollment Policies: State Profile

Open Enrollment Policies: State Profile - Massachusetts

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, voluntary interdistrict and intradistrict. School committees may establish terms with other school committees to accept nonresident students from the public schools of the other town.

Citations: Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. 76 § 12, § 12a, § 12b

Do desegregation provisions impact open enrollment programs? The receiving school committee of any city, town, or regional district may accept transfer students from a sending district with student racial imbalance if the receiving school district's committee has voted to accept out-of-district students. 

Citations: Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. 76 § 12A

Does the state set priorities for districts to follow when accepting students for open enrollment? No. However, if the number of nonresident students applying for acceptance to another district exceeds the number of available seats, the school committee must hold a lottery.

Citations: Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. 76 § 12B

Who is responsible for student transportation? Parents are responsible for transportation. The state will pay when the transfer addresses racial imbalances. Students who receive free or reduced price lunch may qualify for reimbursement from the state which may go to the students' guardian or sending school district, depending upon transportation arrangements and proximity to the school or district.

Citations: Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. 76 § 12B


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