Open enrollment is the process by which parents/guardians residing in one school district may enroll their children in another public school district at no cost. The process is subject to the terms and conditions of Iowa Code section 282.18 and the administrative rules of the Iowa Department of Education, 281 Iowa Administrative Code chapter 17.
Parents/guardians of students entering grades 1-12 must complete and submit an Open Enrollment Application to both the resident and receiving school district by March 1 of the year prior to the school year for which open enrollment is desired. The deadline for prospective Kindergarten students is September 1.
Hard copies of the Open Enrollment Application form are available in the Administration Office at 304 West Nishna Road, Shenandoah, Iowa 51601. Electronic copies can also be found at the Iowa Department of Education-Open Enrollment website.
Exceptions to the September 1 and March 1 deadlines may be granted under the following circumstances:
- Kindergarten - An open enrollment request for a prospective kindergarten student may be filed with the resident district up to the third Thursday in September of the school year the kindergarten student seeks to enroll. (Iowa Code Section 282.18(2); 281 IAC rule 17.7).
- "Good Cause" - A student who experiences a change in residence or change in the status of their district of residence may have "good cause" for a timeline waiver if the change occured or began after the March 1 filing deadline. (Iowa Code Section 281.18(6)).
- Mutual Agreement of Districts - An application for open enrollment may be granted at any time with approval of the resident and receiving districts. (Iowa Code Section 282.18(14)).
When an open enrollment application is filed by March 1 or after March 1 with "good cause" the receiving school district acts first to approve followed by the resident or sending district. When parents/guardians allege pervasive harassment, serious health need or the application is filed after March 1 with no "good cause" the resident district must approve the open enrollment before the receiving district may take action.
Appeals of open enrollment decisions must be filed as a court action in Iowa District Court, unless the application claims pervasive harassment or serious health need.
Appeals regarding harassment or serious health condition may be filed with the Iowa Department of Education within 30 days of the board decision. (281 IAC 17.5(2)).
Open enrollment terminates only when the student graduates, moves into the receiving district, moves out of state, moves into another Iowa district and chooses to attend the new resident district, attends an accredited nonpublic school, drops out of school or parents notify the district that they wish to terminate open enrollment. If a student is temporarily placed in foster care, a juvenile detention center, a treatment facility, or similar placement, the open enrollment status is automatically reinstated when the student returns.
Students that open enroll in grades 9-12, are not eligible to participate in varsity contests and competitions during the first ninety (90) school days of transfer.
One notable exception is in cases where the resident school district determines that the student was subject to a founded incident of bullying or harassment as defined by Iowa Code Section 280.28. In such circumstances, the student is immediately eligible to participate in varsity contests and competitions.