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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

In 2017, the state budget act significantly changed the requirements for districts that elected to participate in the school District of Choice program. The new requirements are outlined in California Education Code (EC) sections 48300 through 48316External link opens in new window or tab. . Under these new provisions, the District of Choice determines the number of transfer students it is willing to accept and must ensure that students admitted are selected through a random, unbiased process. The admissions process prohibits an evaluation of whether or not the student should be enrolled based on his or her academic or athletic performance, physical condition, or proficiency in English.

For more information, visit the District of Choice web page.

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 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Section 1111(d)(1)(D), for schools identified for comprehensive support and improvement (CSI),the local educational agency (LEA) may provide all students enrolled in the school with the option to transfer to another public school served by the LEA, unless such an option is prohibited by State law. (ESSA Section 1111(d)(1)(D)(i))

In providing students the option to transfer to another public school, the LEA shall:

  • Give priority to the lowest achieving children from low-income families, as determined by the local educational agency for purposes of allocating funds to schools under section 1113(c)(1) (ESSA Section 1111(d)(1)(D)(ii));
  • Ensure that a student who transfers to a school in the LEA that is not identified for CSI enroll in classes and other activities in the public school in the same manner as all other students in the school (ESSA Section 1111(d)(1)(D)(iii));
  • Permit a student who transfers to another public school in the LEA that is not identified for CSI to remain in that school until the student has completed the highest grade in that school (ESSA Section 1111(d)(1)(D)(iv)).

The public school choice (Choice) program under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was phased out in the 2017-18 school year due to the implementation of the ESSA. However, LEAs are still required to provide transportation to students who transferred to non-program improvement schools under the NCLB Choice program and allow such students to remain in the schools of choice until they complete the highest grade level in that school.

Additional information is located on the Title I, Part A School Choice Web page [https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/sw/t1/schoolchoice.asp].

Open Enrollment

The Open Enrollment Act is based upon the former accountability system called the Academic Performance Index (API). California Education Code (EC) sections 48350 through 48361 External link opens in new window or tab. provides students enrolled in a low-achieving school the option to transfer to a different school with a higher API than the student's school of residence. The new accountability system, the California School Dashboard (referred to as the Dashboard), shows parents, educators, and community members how their districts and schools are performing by using multiple measures. For further information, visit the California School Dashboard Web page.

For additional information, visit the Open Enrollment Web page.

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Questions:   Government Affairs Division | 916-319-0820
Last Reviewed: Monday, October 22, 2018
Recently Posted in Department Information