New state law allows open enrollment year-round

A new Iowa law allows parents to enroll their children in any public K-through-12 school at any time.
Governor Kim Reynolds approved the immediate change to Iowa’s “open enrollment” policy last month, which lets parents transfer their children out of the district in which the family lives.
The change takes effect immediately, meaning families no longer need to give a reason to send their student to a new district any time throughout the year as long as the new district accepts them.
State legislators voted to eliminate the school open enrollment deadline after it became clear the Iowa House lacked the votes to pass a proposal from Reynolds that would have given 10,000 Iowa families scholarships to pay for private school expenses.
Parents typically had to make a transfer request by March 1 each year, with transfers only allowed into neighboring school districts. That adjacency rule is gone as well.
However, school districts may still refuse transfer applications for lack of room.
The 90-day wait for athletics still applies with the new law, and parents are responsible for transporting children open enrolled to another district.
Additionally, the sending and receiving districts do not have to be contiguous to (or border) each other, but must remain in the state of Iowa.
Stanton Superintendent David Gute explained the March 1 deadline was in place for school districts to make staffing decisions to prepare for the next year.
“With no deadline, this could cause the district to deny open enrollment applications because they don’t have the staff to educate the students,” Gute explained. “This can also negatively affect a district’s budget, if they lose several students over the summer or early in the school year, and had teaching staff already under contract for the next year. The district would be required to pay for the teaching staff and would receive less revenue from the state in the future because of the loss of student enrollment.”
Red Oak Superintendent Ron Lorenz said the district has already revised its procedures in accordance with the new requirements. He declined to comment further.
Dr. Mike Wells, Essex superintendent, said in principle he is in favor of the changes to open enrollment.  
“The March 1 date was always odd to me because parents are not thinking about the next school year in March, and many families were denied open enrollment because they missed this date,” Wells said.
However, he added he’s concerned that students will hop back and forth between districts.  
“For example, a student gets upset with2Essex, open enrolls their child out of district, then discover the grass is not greener and want to come back or they find out that its inconvenient to drive to the other district and the cost of transportation is expensive and want to come back.  Also, there is the athletic eligibility question where a student jumps for over to another school because they might be able to start in sports. Overall, I support the change and we will have to see how it all pans out.”
Lastly, David Henrichs, Griswold Superintendent, said it could be somewhat of a tracking nightmare for the school business official. Overall, he said it is yet to be seen on what issues may occur with changes to open enrollment.
“There are a lot of things we don’t know at this point; we will have to wait and see on how it pans out,” Henrichs said.
For additonal information on the updated open enrollment specifications, go to

The Red Oak Express

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P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

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