Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment Between School DistrictsIowa Open Enrollment law allows parents/guardians to enroll their child in a district other than their district of residence by completing an open enrollment application.Families who meet certain income eligibility guidelines may qualify for transportation assistance from their resident district.High School students who transfer school districts through open enrollment have a 90 school day waiting period to participate in varsity athletic competition, although they may practice with the team during this time. However, the student may participate immediately in a varsity interscholastic sport if the student is entering grade nine for the first time and did not participate in an interscholastic athletic competition for another school or school district during the summer immediately following eighth grade.


Open Enrollment Deadlines

The deadline for filing regular open enrollment requests for the 2017-2018 school year was March 1, 2017. The deadline for filing an open enrollment request for an incoming kindergarten student is September 1, 2017.

Exceptions to these deadlines are as follows:

Students currently living in and attending an Iowa district, and whose family moves to another Iowa district and wants to remain in the original district must file by September 30 following the date of the move to another district.

Students who move into the district from out of state, or for another reason considered to be good cause as listed in the open enrollment law, may have the deadline waived.

Open enrollment applications and related information are available at all Iowa public school districts, Area Education Agencies, and the Iowa Department of Education. If you have questions about open enrollment regulations, please contact the Superintendent.


Open Enrollment - Frequently Asked Questions

What is open enrollment?

In the state of Iowa, a parent or guardian residing in a school district may enroll their child in a public school in another school district without paying tuition, provided they comply with filing deadlines and procedures.

How do I apply?

You may request an open enrollment application from any Iowa school district, area education agency or the state department of education. An application must be completed for each child and filed with the receiving school district. However, if the resident district has a diversity plan in place, they must approve or deny the application.

What is the deadline for filing for open enrollment?

Forms must be filed with the receiving district (or resident district if a diversity plan is in place) by March 1 of the school year preceding the school year for which open enrollment is requested. For example, an application must be filed by March 1, 2017 in order to be approved for the 2017-2018 school year.

For kindergarten students, the deadline is September 1. Students who qualify for "good cause" such as a change in the state in which the family residence is located, may have the deadline waived. For further information on the definition of good cause, please contact the Superintendent or refer to Iowa Code section 282.18 (16) at www2.legis.state.ia.us/IACODE.

If the application is to continue in a school district because of a move to another district, application must be made on or before September 30 following the move date.

Does each child need to file an application?


Is there any cost involved?

Your resident school district will be responsible for paying the cost of tuition each year for your child to attend school in the receiving school district. However, all miscellaneous registration fees for participation in the educational programs will be your responsibility.

Do I need to file a new application each year?

No. Once an application is approved, your child may continue in the receiving district until they graduate, or you move from your resident district.

Will the district provide transportation for my child?

If a parent/guardian meets income eligibility guidelines for transportation assistance, application for that assistance should be filed with the resident district. Transportation assistance is available only between contiguous districts. Income eligibility guidelines are available with the open enrollment application packet.

Can my request be denied?

Generally, a request can be denied if filing deadlines are not met, if the resident district has a diversity plan that would be adversely affected, if there is not classroom space for the student, or if the student is under suspension or expulsion from his/her current school district.

What are my options if the open enrollment application is denied?

Only if the application for open enrollment was because of repeated acts of harassment or because the child has a serious health condition that the resident district cannot adequately address, may the parent file an appeal with the state Department of Education within 30 days of the Board of Education decision to deny the application.

If the denial is based on a diversity plan and/or any other reasons it may be appealed to district court.

Do we need to open enroll if we move and want to remain in the same school district?

Yes. You must file for open enrollment by September 30 following your move, or you may be denied.

What if we move to another district after we file for open enrollment and want to continue to attend in the current district?

Simply send written notification to the new district, the resident district and the current district that you wish to transfer your open enrollment to the new district.

This applies to a move within Iowa only. Out of state residents are not eligible for open enrollment and would need to pay tuition to continue.

Whom should I contact with further questions on open enrollment?

You may contact the Superintendent.


Open Enrollment - Parent Rights & Responsibilities


1. If you move from the district you currently live in during the term of the open enrollment, it is your responsibility to notify your resident district and the district to which you are moving.

2. Approval for one child in a family does not guarantee approval for younger children in the same family. Each child in a family must have an open enrollment request filed for him/her.

3. If your income is below 160% of the federal poverty guidelines, you qualify for transportation assistance. This may be in the form of actual transportation or a reimbursement paid directly to you.

4. A pupil who transfers school districts under open enrollment , shall not be eligible to participate in varsity level interscholastic contests and competitions during the first 90 school days of transfer. For questions on eligibility please contact the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union at (515)288-9741 or the Iowa High School Athletic Association at (515)432-2011.


If your child has NOT been approved for open enrollment you may appeal the board decision by using the process below:

Open Enrollment - APPEAL PROCESS

All appeals must be made to an Iowa District unless the application for open enrollment claims harassment or if the child has a serious health condition that the resident district cannot adequately address. If the application is denied by the resident district for either of these reasons, the parent/guardian may appeal to the State Board of Education using the process below. The appeal should be addressed to:

Administrative Law Judge

Department of Education

Grimes State Office Building

Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0146

The appeal letter must contain the following information:

Name, address, and daytime phone number of the person appealing.

Name and grade level of child(ren) involved in the appeal (incase of expulsion, open enrollment, suspension, etc.)

Name of the school district making the board decision that is being appealed.

Date the local board decision was made.

Brief statement of reasons why the decision is being appealed.

Notarized signature.

Other information may be included if desired.

IMPORTANT: The letter of appeal must be postmarked within 30 days of the board decision. A fax is acceptable if the notary seal is visible. The fax number is 515/281-4122

If the denial is based on a diversity plan and/or any other reasons it may be appealed to district court.