Open Enrollment Policies: State Profile

Open Enrollment Policies: State Profile - Utah

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, 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. 
There are also transfer provisions related to safety issues.

Citations: Utah Code Ann. § 53G-6-401 through § 53G-6-407
Utah Admin. Code r. R277-437

Do desegregation provisions impact open enrollment programs? Local school boards' standards for accepting or rejecting transfer applications may include maintaining heterogeneous student populations to avoid violation of constitutional or statutory rights of students.

Citations: Utah Code Ann. § 53G-6-403

Does the state set priorities for districts to follow when accepting students for open enrollment? No. However, school boards of receiving districts may give priority to intradistrict transfers over interdistrict transfers and may establish priorities through the standards for accepting or rejecting transfer applications. When reviewing applications, local school boards must consider if an applicant has siblings attending the school or another school in the district. In addition, districts may reject students who have committed serious infractions of the law or school rules or have been guilty of chronic misbehavior.

Citations: Utah Code Ann. § 53G-6-402, § 53G-6-403, § 53G-6-407
Utah Admin. Code r. R277-437

Who is responsible for student transportation? For intradistrict and interdistrict transfers, the receiving district must provide transportation on an approved route within the district if space is available. Otherwise, parents are responsible for transportation. However, sending districts may transport students to school in the receiving districts and the State Board of Education may create policies about transporting nonresident students to the receiving school if transportation would relieve overcrowding or address other serious problems in the sending districts.

Citations: Utah Code Ann. § 53G-6-405; § 53G-6-407
Utah Admin. Code r. R277-437


© 2020 by the Education Commission of the States (ECS). All rights reserved. ECS is the only nationwide, nonpartisan interstate compact devoted to education. 700 Broadway #810, Denver, CO 80203-3442

To request permission to excerpt part of this publication, either in print or electronically, please contact the Education Commission of the States’ Communications Department at 303.299.3636 or mzatynski@ecs.org.

Your Education Policy Team  www.ecs.org