Open Enrollment & Chapter 220
What is Open Enrollment?
Open Enrollment is a State of Wisconsin program that allows parents/guardians to apply for their children to attend school districts other than the one in which they live.
Who may participate?
Wisconsin residents in grades K4 to 12 may apply to participate in Open Enrollment. Students in pre-kindergarten may participate only in limited circumstances; parents/guardians should call their resident school district administrator to find out if their preschool-aged children qualify.
How do families apply for Open Enrollment?
Parents/guardians must submit applications to the Department of Public Instruction website here, and may apply to up to three (3) different nonresident school districts during the application period. The application period typically begins on the first Monday of February and continues through the end of April, for seats in the next school year. Parents/guardians must complete an application for each child. Late or early applications will not be accepted for any reason.
Paper application forms may be obtained after December 15 from the Department of Public Instruction website here, but the portal to apply online will only be open during the application period.
Can an application be rejected?
Under certain circumstances, nonresident school districts may deny an application:
- If space is not available for the student in the nonresident school district.
- If the student has been expelled during the current school year or during the two preceding school years for certain violent conduct.
- If the special education program that the student needs is not available in the school district; if there is no space in the special education program; or if the student has been referred for an evaluation but has not yet been evaluated.
What if more students apply to attend than there are spaces?
If more students apply to attend the nonresident school district than there are spaces, the nonresident school district must give preference to students who are already attending that district and have moved to another district, and to siblings of students who are already attending that district. After granting these preferences, students assigned to any remaining spaces must be selected randomly. Students who are not selected will be placed on a wait list in order of their name being drawn.
Other helpful information:
- Both the resident district and the nonresident district must approve the Open Enrollment application.
- Parents/guardians whose children's applications were denied may appeal to the DPI within 30 days after receiving notice of denial.
- Students who are accepted into a nonresident school district may continue to attend without reapplication with one exception: The nonresident district may require each student to reapply one time and one time only — at the beginning of middle school, junior high school, or high school.
- Students may return to their resident district at any time. However, once a student leaves a nonresident district to attend any other public or private program, they must reapply during the open enrollment application period and be approved in the process in order to attend that nonresident district again.
- There is no tuition cost to families for their children's participation in Open Enrollment. Open Enrollment students will be charged the same fees as resident students for books, etc.
- Parents/guardians are responsible for transporting their children to and from school, except that if the student receives special education and the student's IEP requires transportation, the nonresident school district must provide the transportation. Low-income families (of children who are eligible for free or reduced price lunches under the federal school lunch program) may apply to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for reimbursement of transportation costs. Parents/guardians should apply for this reimbursement at the same time that they apply for Open Enrollment.
- Parents/guardians may request a particular school within a school district, but it is up to the school board to assign students to schools depending upon where the seats are available.
The State of Wisconsin has discontinued the Chapter 220 Program.