Colorado Open Enrollment

Frequently Asked Questions

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What is open enrollment?

When can I open enroll my child?

How do I open enroll my child?

How do I find the right school?

Is transportation provided when I open enroll my child?

What are the restrictions for participation in high school athletics when students open enroll?

When can a school district deny open enrollment?


What is open enrollment?

"Open Enrollment" is the option for Colorado students to enroll in a public school other than their assigned "neighborhood school."

Example: The school district assigned the children on Tom's street to attend Snowy Mountain Elementary. After visiting Spruce Elementary, Tom's family decided that they would rather Tom attend Spruce Elementary. They filled out an open enrollment application and submitted the application before the deadline. Tom was selected to open enroll in Spruce Elementary. Because bus transportation was not provided, Tom's father drove Tom to school everyday and his mother picked him up.

Students may open enroll into any public school as long as certain criteria are met. Most schools that do not have room for more students will have a waiting list. When there is room for more students, schools will either accept students on a first-come-first-served basis or hold a lottery to determine which students may enroll in the school. Check with individual schools for details.

Additional restrictions may apply to the following students if they open enroll or transfer to a public school:

Click here for the Open Enrollment Checklist to help guide you if you plan to enroll your child in a public school other than your neighborhood school.

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When can I open enroll my child?

Open enrollment applications are for enrollment into a school for the next school year. School districts, and some individual schools, set their own time schedule for accepting open enrollment applications. Many school districts have open enrollment deadlines in December, January, and February, so be sure to plan ahead. Most charter and option schools have different application guidelines and timelines than the local school district. Check with individual charter and option schools to learn about their application process. Click here to find Colorado school district open enrollment web pages.

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How do I open enroll my child?

School districts, and some individual schools (especially charter and option schools), set their own rules about where to pick up and drop off open enrollment applications. Check with the school(s) you are interested to learn about their application process. Click here to find Colorado school district open enrollment web pages.

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How do I find the right school?

Many public schools, often called "schools of choice," have been designed to offer curricula, teaching methods, and programs that are different from traditional public schools to give parents and students more options. Some schools of choice are also "neighborhood" schools that have chosen to offer unique programs.

Public schools of choice may be referred to by many names, including charter, magnet, option, alternative, focus, and contract schools. There are many educational philosophies to choose from. Click here to read about educational philosophies, methods, and programs available in Colorado public schools.

Click here to search for public schools of choice in your area.

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Is transportation provided when I open enroll my child?

When you open enroll into another school, transportation may or may not be provided. Check with the district or school you are transferring into.

Due to federal No Child Left Behind mandates, some low-performing schools are required to offer transportation to attend designated higher-performing schools until the lower-performing school improves academically.

Find out if your child's school may offer free transportation to a higher-performing school.

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What are the restrictions for participation in high school athletics when students open enroll?

Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) Rule 1800 addresses athletic eligibility in varsity sports when a student transfers to another high school. If you think this rule may apply to you, please read the rule information starting on page 61.

If a student transfers from one high school to another for most reasons other than a bona fide family move, the transfer rule states that the student "will be ineligible for varsity competition in the first 50% of the maximum regular season contests determined by that classification in any sport in which the student was a participant during the past 12 months....The student may practice with the team and participate in an interscholastic contest at the sub-varsity level during this time" (also known as the 50% rule).

Eligibility restrictions do not apply to incoming freshmen, students who can show a bona fide family move, students who did not participate in the sport in the previous year, or students who can prove a hardship (court-ordered transfer, move from one parent to another parent, military transfer, and others).

If a homeschooled student has been participating in sports at one high school and wishes to participate in another high school, the transfer rule applies unless the student has made a bona fide family move or a hardship exists."

Please refer to the transfer rule information (page 61) and transfer request forms for further details.

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When can a school district deny open enrollment?

Open enrollment law lists several reasons why a school district can deny an open enrollment request:
  • There is a lack of space or teaching staff. (Contact the school to ask if there is a waiting list.)
  • The school does not offer a special program or the necessary facilities to meet the student's needs.
  • The student does not meet the established criteria for a particular program.
  • A desegregation plan is in effect and the denial is necessary for compliance with the desegregation plan.
  • The student has been expelled or is in the process of being expelled from another district, or the student may be denied permission to enroll under circumstances that would allow for expulsion.

If there is not enough space at a school for students who want to transfer in, preference is usually given to students who live in the school district. Check with the district to find out their policies for accepting students.

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© School Choice For Kids by Independence Institute 2014
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© School Choice For Kids by Independence Institute 2014