Who is a Resident of a School District?

Last Updated on April 2, 2021 by Michelle Ball

What district a student is a resident of is usually a simple matter isn’t it?  Where does one live and what does the online map say?  Regardless, sometimes this can become a tricky and very important issue for kids.  

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 taken out of the state, while the child remains behind in California.  Residency status can become critical, and can involve investigations by school districts and termination of attendance if a student is not found a “resident” of the school district where they attend.

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 with their parents within the boundaries of a school district.  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)

– 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 district

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

– 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 they are 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 will depend 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 or that a student can enter a particular district or remain at their school of attendance.