Which Students Are Actual “Residents” Of A School District?


Students can attend a school if legally a "resident."

Last Updated on February 22, 2022 by Michelle Ball

By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995

What school district a student is a legal “resident” of for school attendance purposes is usually a simple matter isn’t it?  Where does one live and what does the online map say? It is not always so easy.  Sometimes school residency and where a student can attend can become a tricky issue for students.  

When Is Student Residency At Issue?

School residency student
Where a student lives may determine “residency” for school purposes but there are other ways students may become “residents.”

Where a student resides legally comes up when a family moves, when a student wants to attend a school where their parent works, their parents are in the military, or are out of the state, while the child remains behind in California.  Residency status can become critical for students, and can involve invasive investigations by school districts. Ultimately, a student can be kicked out if a student is found not to be a “resident” of the school district where they attend.

Which Students Are Actual Residents Per California Law?

The bottom line is to attend a school district one must be a resident of that school district as defined by state law and district policy.  Simply, a resident is a student living within the boundaries of a school district, such as with their parents, or as an adult student (if in high school at 18). 

A resident is also, per California Education Code Section 48204, defined as:

–  A student who is attending on an interdistrict attendance agreement (transfer) which has been approved (California Education Code section 46600)

– An emancipated minor living within the district

– A student living in a caregivers home in the district (e.g.caregiver affidavit)

Students in state hospitals residency
Students in a state hospital in a district are residents.

– A student in a state hospital in the district

– A student whose parent or legal guardian works at least 10 hours in that district, who has been approved for transfer.  So long as the parent remains employed, this student should be able to attend through twelfth grade without reapplication (California Education Code section 48204(b)(8)).

–  A foster care, family home, or children’s institution resident living in the district boundaries.

– A foster care student who remains in their school (but may not live in that area) within the school district

A Student May Also Continue Attending In These Circumstances

Students may also continue to attend a school, although the codes do not address whether they are “residents,” in the following circumstances:

Students attending high school as active military residence
Students on active military have a residency exception

– A student whose parent is active military and who is being transferred into the district. (California Education Code section 48204.3)

– A student whose parent has departed the state involuntarily, regardless of where the pupil lived in California prior to the departure (California Education Code section 48204.4)

– A student belonging to a military family who attends and was a resident previously (California Education Code section 48204.6).  The time the student is allowed to stay will depend on the grade in which they were/are enrolled.

–  A student who is migratory and attends that district (California Education Code section 48204.7). The time they are allowed to stay enrolled as a student depends on the grade in which they were/are enrolled.

This determination of a student’s status as a “resident,” is critical for many families, to ensure their kids don’t have to switch schools unnecessarily and so a student can enter a particular district or remain at their school of attendance.


Student attorney Michelle Ball addresses school transfer and residency issues and assists families with tricky school enrollment issues, like interdistrict and intradistrict transfers, establishing student residency, appealing a interdistrict transfer denial and many other problems with school attendance and enrollment. As an education lawyer in Sacramento California, Michelle can assist throughout the state in areas such as Clearlake, Roseville, Auburn, Colfax, Granite Bay, Folsom, Tahoe, Fresno, Montecito, and many other locations.