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Switching Schools: Open Enrollment And Intradistrict Transfer Options


Last Updated on April 10, 2021 by Michelle Ball

Sometimes students are just not at the right school, but their parents like the school district they live within and want to keep their kids in it.  There are processes in place to achieve this goal, but certain requirements must be met.  Some options available to parents include open enrollment or filing an application for intradistrict transfer per school district policies.

Open Enrollment

What is school district open enrollment?  This is a process where a student living within a district can opt to attend any school in that district.  All a parent needs to do usually is return the relevant forms, listing their top choices for schools.  


All districts are supposed to have an open enrollment process, and the only argument to not have one could conceivably be that there is only one school in the district or all their schools are overly enrolled, aka impacted, and will remain so.  Most districts will have some space and will need to hold an open enrollment process.  

The school open enrollment process usually happens at the end of the prior year or early in the calendar year when the transfer will apply (e.g. late 2021- early 2022 deadline for a move at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year).  Due dates for submissions vary by school district.

Certain priorities will apply.  For example, open enrollment cannot cause the displacement of residents who want to attend their school of residence.  After the residents of a school are placed, other students with priorities should be placed.  Priorities can exist for siblings of a student already in attendance and/or as outlined in school district policies.  If there end up being spaces and too many students vying for those spaces, an unbiased student lottery should occur.

Intradistrict Transfer

If open enrollment request time has passed, and a parent wants to transfer to another school in their district, they could pursue an intradistrict transfer. 

What is an intradistrict transfer?  It is a transfer to another school WITHIN the same school district. This is different from an interdistrict transfer, which is between two different school districts.  

There may be deadlines to apply for intradistrict transfers, but many districts may accept requests outside the timelines as well, depending on the reasons for the request.  If the regular timeline can be met, that is a good idea.

The rules related to these transfers will be outlined in school board policies, usually found on most school district websites under a tab titled “School Board” or “Board of Education,” or by contacting the school district office.  There may be a place on a school district website referencing intradistrict transfers and requirements to obtain one.

Most districts outline certain parameters for the granting of intradistrict transfer requests such as the new school having a program not at the school of residence, the school where the student resides being persistently dangerous, a court order, bullying, or the mental health of the student, among other possible bases.  

Other Ways To Transfer

Students who are in special education may be transferred without ever applying via this process, if their IEP (Individualized Educational Program) team places them due to services needed at a particular school.

Sometimes an involuntary intradistrict transfer may be imposed on a student who has committed a harmful act and/or agreed to by their parent to avoid a school expulsion.