Open Enrollment Policies: State Profile

Open Enrollment Policies: State Profile - Montana

Last updated: October 2018

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 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.  


Open Enrollment Survey 2018
Does the state have open enrollment programs? Yes, voluntary intradistrict and interdistrict; mandatory interdistrict for geographic access or other issues.

Voluntary: Sending and receiving districts enter into an attendance agreement that sets forth 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, although 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 student to attend the resident school because of geographic conditions, including a bus ride of more than one hour (for elementary students), traveling certain distances to attend school, or geographic barriers that prohibit travel.
  • The student's sibling attends high school in another district and student may more conveniently attend an elementary school where the high school is located, under circumstances.
  • 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.

Citations: Mont. Code Ann. § 20-5-320, § 20-5-321

Do desegregation provisions impact open enrollment programs? Not addressed
Does the state set priorities for districts to follow when accepting students for open enrollment? No, although a child with a disability who resides in the district must be approved.

Citations: Mont. Code Ann. § 20-5-321

Who is responsible for student transportation? For both voluntary and mandatory interdistrict open enrollment, the attendance agreement between the sending and receiving districts outlines the financial obligations for transportation costs.

Citations: Mont. Code Ann. § 20-5-321


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