More Open Enrollment Changes for Nonresident Transfers

April 21, 2021Articles

On April 19, 2021, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice approved Senate Bill 375 related to county boards of education policies for open enrollment.

County boards may recall changes to applicable law found in W. Va. Code 18-5-16 following the 2019 Legislative Session.

Although W. Va. Code 18-5-16 already requires each county board of education to establish and implement an open enrollment policy without charging tuition and without obtaining approval from the board of the county in which a student resides and transfers, SB 375 will now likely require an update of those policies.

Specifically, a county board of education will now adopt an enrollment policy that “shall clearly outline the application process nonresidents students are to follow.”

The current language stricken from W. Va. Code 18-5-16 as it relates to county’s policy is as follows: “These policies shall clearly articulate any admission criteria, application procedures, transportation provisions, timelines for open enrollment periods, and restrictions on transfers due to building capacity constraints.” The new language, as a result of SB 375, reads instead: “This policy shall clearly outline the application process nonresident students are to follow.”

Significantly, SB 375 also dictates the circumstances under which a county board of education can deny a nonresident transfer. It provides that “An application may only be denied by a county board of education due to lack of grade-level capacity or if the nonresident student failed to fill out or submit the application correctly. The denial shall be in writing, sent to the parent or guardian of the nonresident student and the West Virginia Department of Education within three business days of the decision, and include the reason and explanation for the denial and information on appealing the denial of the application.” 

Clearly, this language places significant restrictions on a county board’s ability to deny a nonresident transfer. Any parent or guardian may appeal the refusal of a county board to accept the transfer of a student by appealing to the State Superintendent.

Should you have any questions, please contact a member of Dinsmore’s education law team.