Open Enrollment Policies: State Profile

Open Enrollment Policies: State Profile - Washington

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 intradistrict and voluntary interdistrict.

Intradistrict: School districts must have a policy allowing intradistrict transfer options. 

Interdistrict: Districts are "strongly encouraged" to allow parents to transfer students to another district when requested. Districts must consider all applications equally and create standards for acceptance or rejection. A sending district must allow an interdistrict transfer if the receiving district agrees and under certain circumstances, such as accessibility to a parent's workplace or child care location, a hardship, or to enroll in an online course or school. Receiving districts may deny a transfer if it would create a financial hardship for the district. 

Citations: Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 28A.225.220 through § 28A.225.300

Do desegregation provisions impact open enrollment programs? A sending district may deny an interdistrict transfer request if the transfer would adversely affect the sending district's existing desegregation plan.

Citations: Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 28A.225.220

Does the state set priorities for districts to follow when accepting students for open enrollment? No. However, districts must accept children of full-time teaching staff and may refuse to enroll a student who has been expelled or suspended for more than ten consecutive days or has a history of violent or disruptive behavior.

Citations: Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 28A.225.225, § 28A.225.270

Who is responsible for student transportation? Not addressed.

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