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District Transfers

Laws regarding intradistrict and interdistrict transfers.

Policies regarding intradistrict/open enrollment and interdistrict/reciprocal agreement transfers are the responsibility of each local district governing board and are not within the jurisdiction of the California Department of Education (CDE). Each local district governing board has ultimate authority over general education processes such as district transfers. Parents/guardians shall work with their local school district administration to share their concerns and to determine what local processes their district has in place regarding district transfers. Contact information for California public schools, private schools, nonpublic and nonsectarian schools, County Offices of Education, and school districts can be found on the CDE California School Directory Web page.

California law requires school districts to provide an education to any student who resides within the district’s attendance area. Although students have the right under California law to a free, public education, the law does not guarantee that a student can attend the school of his or her choice, or even the neighborhood school.

California’s educational system relies on local control for the management of school districts on the theory that those closest to the problems and needs of each individual district are the best able to make appropriate decisions on behalf of the district. In allocating their resources among the schools of the district, school district governing boards and district administrators must follow the law, but they also have the additional task of setting the educational priorities for their schools and weighing the importance and urgency of all of their education needs.

District of Choice
Intradistrict Transfer
Interdistrict Transfer/Reciprocal Agreement
Interdistrict Transfer Because of Parent Employment/Allen Bill
District Transfers and Transportation
School Choice
Open Enrollment


District of Choice

The governing board of any school district may elect to accept interdistrict transfers under the “District of Choice” provision authorized under California Education Code sections 48300 through 48316 External link opens in new window or tab. Under this provision, the school district of choice determines the number of transfer pupils it is willing to accept and must ensure that pupils admitted are selected through a random, unbiased process that prohibits an evaluation of whether or not the pupil should be enrolled based on his or her academic or athletic performance.

Applications for transfer under this provision must be received by January 1 or the subsequent school year for which the pupil is requesting a transfer. This date may be waived under certain conditions. The school district of choice must notify the parent in writing within 90 days of the receipt of the transfer request as to whether the application has been approved, rejected or if the pupil has been placed on a waiting list.

The pupil’s district of residence may prohibit the transfer of the pupil only if that governing board determines that the transfer would negatively impact the racial and ethnic balance of the school district or court-order or voluntary desegregation plans of the school district. A school district of residence may not prohibit the transfer of a pupil, who is a child of an active military duty parent, to a school which has approved the application for transfer.

School districts of choice must give priority for attendance to siblings of children already in attendance and may give priority for attendance to children of military personnel.

Intradistrict Transfer

An intradistrict transfer/open enrollment is when parents/guardians wish to register/admit/enroll their student(s) at a school other than the designated school that is in their attendance area within their district.

California Education Code Section 35160.5(b) External link opens in new window or tab. permits parents to indicate a preference for the school which their child will attend, irrespective of the child’s place of residence within the district, and requires the district to honor this parental preference if the school has sufficient capacity without displacing other currently enrolled students.

Districts are encouraged to give preference to siblings attending the same school and to consider the location of parents’ places of employment or established child care arrangements in determining enrollment priority. Districts are allowed to make case-by-case exceptions in order to ameliorate harmful or dangerous situations.

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Interdistrict Transfer/Reciprocal Agreement

An interdistrict transfer/reciprocal agreement is when parents/guardians wish to register/admit/enroll their student(s) at a school other than the designated school that is in their attendance area outside of their district.

California Education Code sections 46600–46610 External link opens in new window or tab. permits parents/guardians to request an interdistrict transfer/reciprocal agreement. The fundamental basis for this provision is the signing of an agreement between districts. Interdistrict transfer/reciprocal agreement must be approved by both the student’s original district of residence and the district to which the student seeks to transfer to. Both districts must approve the agreement before it becomes valid. The agreement may extend for a maximum of five consecutive years and may include terms or conditions. It is within the authority of either the home district or the receiving district to revoke an interdistrict transfer/reciprocal agreement at any time for any reason the local board or district superintendent deems appropriate.

If a request for an interdistrict transfer/reciprocal agreement is denied, the student’s parents/guardians may file an appeal to the county office of education in the student’s district of residence within 30 days of receipt of the official notice of denial of the transfer.

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Interdistrict Transfer Because of Parent Employment/Allen Bill

California Education Code Section 48204(b) External link opens in new window or tab. permits a school district to deem a pupil to have complied with the residency requirements for school attendance in the district if at least one parent/guardian of the pupil is physically employed within the boundaries of that district. Once admitted to residency, the pupil’s transfer may be revoked only if the parent ceases to be employed within the boundaries of the district. As a resident, the student does not have to re-apply for the transfer to be valid.

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District Transfers and Transportation

California Education Code Section 41850 External link opens in new window or tab. provides annual funding to district for home-to-school transportation and special education transportation. Reimbursements are made to districts on a cost-per-mile traveled basis. However, participation in the home-to-school transportation program is wholly voluntary and some districts do not provide these services. Districts may choose to assess a fee for home-to-school transportation.

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School Choice

Under the Federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, schools that do not meet their achievement targets must offer parents the choice of attending another school in the same district. This transfer is given under the option of Title I, Part A School Choice.

A Title I school will be identified for program improvement (PI) when, for each of two consecutive years, the Title I school does not make adequate yearly progress (AYP) in the same content area (English-language arts or mathematics) schoolwide or for any numerically significant subgroup, or on the same indicator (Academic Performance Index [API] or high school graduation rate) schoolwide.

Information about school choice can be found on the California Department of Education Title I, Part A School Choice Web page.

Open Enrollment

California Education Code sections 48350 through 48361 External link opens in new window or tab. “The Open Enrollment Act” provides an option to pupils attending low-achieving schools within their “District of Residence” to enroll in schools with higher Academic Performance Indices.

The Superintendent of Public Instruction creates an annual list of 1,000 schools subject to the provisions of the Open Enrollment Act. Parents of pupils attending any of these schools may apply for admission to a higher achieving school by January 1..

The receiving school district, or “District of Enrollment” may adopt specific standards for the acceptance and rejection of applications under this provision. These may include consideration of capacity issues as well as the potential adverse financial impact. The school district of enrollment must respond to the parent and the “District of Residence” within 60 days of receiving an application for transfer under the open enrollment provision.

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Questions:   California Department of Education| 916-319-0800
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, June 28, 2016
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