Open Enrollment Policies: State Profile

Open Enrollment Policies: State Profile - New Jersey

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 interdistrict.

Under the state's interdistrict public school choice program, school districts may apply to the Commissioner of Education to participate as a choice districts. Applications are evaluated by various criteria, such as the fiscal impact on the school district and the impact on student diversity in the district, among others. 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.

Citations: N.J. Stat. Ann. § 18A:36B-14 through § 18A:36B-21
N.J. Admin. Code § 6A:12-1.1 through § 6A:12-9.1

Do desegregation provisions impact open enrollment programs? Districts applying to become a choice district must submit an analysis of the potential impact of the choice program on student diversity and a plan for maintaining diversity, but these plans may not supersede a court-ordered desegregation plan. To maintain student population diversity, the commissioner may restrict the number of choice students from a sending district, restrict a receiving district's ability to accept choice students, or revoke approval of the choice district.

Citations: N.J. Stat. Ann. § 18A:36B-17

Does the state set priorities for districts to follow when accepting students for open enrollment? Yes. Receiving districts and sending districts may give preference to siblings of enrolled students. If a receiving district receives more applications for a school than space available, a lottery must be used. Sending districts that limit choice enrollment and with transfer requests above the percentage limit may hold a lottery to select participating students. Districts may give preference to siblings already participating before holding the lottery and may develop a waiting list based on the lottery.

Citations: N.J. Stat. Ann. § 18A:36B-20, § 18A:36B-21
N.J. Admin. Code § 6A:12-4.1, § 6A:12-4.2

Who is responsible for student transportation? Sending districts are responsible for the transportation (including transportation aid) of elementary students living more than two miles and to secondary students living more than 2.5 miles from their respective receiving schools. Transportation will not be provided for students living more than 20 miles from the receiving school. The sending district will receive state aid for transportation costs.

Citations: N.J. Stat. Ann. § 18A:36B-22
N.J. Admin. Code § 6A:12-8.1 and § 6A:12-9.1


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