Open enrollment required in MN, can be capped

Students in Minnesota are not required to attend the public school district in which they reside.

They’re not guaranteed a spot in any district of their choosing, however.

Per state law, school boards can cap open enrollment at 1 percent of the total enrollment at each grade level. They can also cap it at the number of district residents who enroll in a different district. So if 100 Minneapolis residents left Minneapolis Public Schools for other districts, for example, the district could cap open enrollment at 100.

State law requires parents to submit an application to the nonresident district and include a reason for the proposed move. A parent or guardian must submit a signed application by Jan. 15 for enrollment beginning the following school year. Parents may request a particular school or program.

Districts must notify parents in writing by Feb. 15 whether or not their applica- tion has been accepted and, if necessary, the reason for the rejection. Parents must notify the districts by March 1 or within 45 days whether or not their student intends to enroll. They are not required to submit a new application each year once the student has been accepted.

Impartial lottery

A district must hold an impartial lottery if it has more applications than available seats at a specific grade level. Priority must be given to siblings of currently enrolled students and children of district staff, among others. If requested by the parent, the nonresi- dent district must provide transportation within the district. Transportation is not required for the commute between the student’s home and the district’s border.

Nonresident districts must accept credits awarded by other districts.

Minnesota has had parental choice since the late 1980s thanks to a push led by former Gov. Rudy Perpich. Perpich thought open enrollment would force schools to compete with each other and thereby improve the state’s education system.

The law has led to tens of thousands of students open enrolling or enrolling in charter schools each year. In Minneapolis Public Schools, for example, about one-third of more than 53,000 school-aged residents attend charter schools or open enroll, according to Star Tribune data.

Visit education.state.mn.us/MDE/fam/open/ to learn more about open enrollment, download the state Department of Education form and learn more about other enrollment options.

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