A student's school and resident school district are based on where the student lives. In some circumstances, a student may ask to transfer to a school outside of the district in which they live. This is called a non-resident student transfer. You may also hear it called out-of-district transfer, inter-district transfer, choice transfer, variance, or school choice.
- Non-resident students are those who do not live within the school district boundaries of the district they are asking to attend.
- Whether the student transfer request is accepted or denied is determined by the school districts (not OSPI). Each school district sets its own policy and procedures for student transfers.
- Both the student's current resident district and the non-resident district must approve a transfer prior to the student attending a non-resident district.
- Denied requests can be appealed by requesting a hearing throught OSPI. Appeals are heard by the Office of Administrative Hearings. OSPI staff does not rule on non-resident student transfers.
How do I appeal a student transfer denial?
If your student transfer request is denied, you have the option to appeal. An appeal means you are requesting a hearing that will be heard by an Administrative Law Judge.
- Contact the school district office that denied the non-resident student transfer request. School districts set their own policy for accepting non-resident students. Most school districts have an internal appeal process for taking another look at student transfer requests with district staff. In many instances, the issue can be resolved between the school district and the non-resident student's parent/guardian.
- If the school district is not able to accommodate the student transfer request, you have the option to request a hearing (see below). OSPI staff does not make determinations on student transfer cases. Appeals are heard by an Administrative Law Judge with the Office of Administrative Hearings.
To submit an appeal and request a hearing:
- Complete the Notice of Appeal Form and supporting documentation.
- Mail the Notice of Appeal and Supporting Documentation to:
Administrative Resource Services - Transfer Appeal
Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
PO Box 47200
Olympia, WA 98504-7200
What happens after I've submitted an appeal?
OSPI assigns a case number and transmits the case to the Office of Administrative Hearings. The case is assigned to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). See the OAH Hearings Guide for full details on this process and what you can expect.
All student transfer appeal cases are heard by an Administrative Law Judge with the Office of Administrative Hearings. After hearing both sides of the case, the judge will make a decision.
How long will an appeal take?
Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis and can take a few weeks to a few months to resolve. A high number of student transfer appeal cases are all filed within the same short period of time (often just before school starts). During that period, given the number of cases to be processed and heard, a decision will likely take a few weeks.
How do I transfer my child to a school in a different school district?
Contact the nonresident school district program before starting the transfer process. Make sure they are accepting new students and find out how to make the transfer request.
Ultimately, the student must be released from his/her resident district and be accepted by the district in which he/she wants to enroll. The student’s home school district must allow the student to attend school in another district if:
- The student’s financial, educational, safety, or health conditions would likely be improved, or
- Attendance in the nonresident district is more accessible to the parent’s/guardian’s place of work or to the location of child care, or
- There is a special hardship or detrimental condition, or
- The purpose of the transfer is for enrollment in an online course or school program offered by an OSPI-approved provider.
EXAMPLE: Sarah lives within the boundaries of the Green School District. Due to certain life circumstances, Sarah wants to attend a school within the Blue School District. Sarah does not live within the Blue School District boundary. In order for Sarah to attend school in the Blue School District, both the Green School District and the Blue School District must approve the transfer.
For more on Personal School Choice–Transfers, see Learning by Choice.
- RCW 28A.225.220 Adults, children from other districts, agreements for attending school — Tuition. When a district, receiving students from another district, may charge tuition/fees.
- RCW 28A.225.225 Applications from school employees' children, nonresident students, or students receiving home-based instruction to attend district school — Acceptance and rejection standards — Notification. How a district can accept or reject applications from nonresident students or home-based instruction students to attend the school district and the notification process.
- RCW 28A.225.230 Appeal from certain decisions to deny student's request to attend nonresident district — Procedure. Appeal process from certain decisions of the receiving school district for a nonresident student to enroll in the district.
- RCW 28A.225.270 Intradistrict enrollment options policies. Process for a student to request a transfer from one school to another within his/her resident school district.
- RCW 28A.225.280 Transfer students' eligibility for extracurricular activities. Eligibility of transfer students for extracurricular activities under Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) rules.
- RCW 28A.225.290 Enrollment options information booklet (as amended by 2009 c 450). Duty of the superintendent of public instruction to prepare the enrollment options booklet.
- RCW 28A.225.300 Enrollment options information to parents. Duty of each school district board of directors to inform parents of the intra-district and inter-district enrollment options available to parents/students.
- RCW 28A.225.310 Attendance in school district of choice — Impact on existing cooperative arrangements. Cooperative agreements between the sending and receiving districts when a student wants to attend another district.