topeka high

New law creates open public school enrollment throughout Kansas

May 16, 2022
Beginning in 2024, students will be allowed to enroll at any public school in the state, as long as space is available.

Starting in June 2024, Kansas students will be allowed to go to any public school district in the state, as long as space is available.

Gov. Laura Kelly signed House Bill 2567 on Monday afternoon, The Kansas City Star reports.

 “Before taking effect during the 2024-2025 school year, the Legislature must work with educators and administrators to make the necessary modifications to ensure that elected school board members maintain local control,” Kelly said.

The legislation directs school districts to develop plans and guidelines laying out how many total students the district can handle, and how many nonresident students they can accept into each grade. Once districts know what their capacity is, families across the state can begin applying to transfer their students to the school of their choice. If the number of applicants exceeds the spaces available, a district will have to randomly select students before July 15 each year. 

Students who successfully apply and enroll in a new district will be able to remain there until they graduate. But if students would like to change schools and enroll in the district they reside in, they will be able to do so at any point.

Students can be denied admittance to a non-resident district only if there is not enough space. They cannot be admitted or denied on the basis of ethnicity, gender, income, nationality or for having a disabling condition. School districts also can’t admit students for their athletic ability or measure of achievement. If a student is denied enrollment, the school is required to send the family a note explaining their decision.

Earlier this month, some districts in the state voiced opposition to the legislation.

The Blue Valley and Olathe school systems, among the largest in Kansas, issued a joint statement:

"While we can certainly empathize with parents in lower-performing districts, both Blue Valley and Olathe are among the highest-performing districts in Kansas -- indeed competing nationally -- and, as such, would find our districts overwhelmed with requests from non-residents. Without intending to sound elitist, it is nonetheless true that housing costs in our districts often provide a check on resident student growth now."

Blue Valley and Olathe also say their districts "are certain to get a rush of special education students, as we already get inquiries almost daily from non-resident parents trying to enroll, as both of our districts have a reputation of offering superior special education services."

The two districts have a combined enrollment of more than 51,000 students.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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