The Wisconsin inter-district public school open enrollment program allows parents to apply for their children to attend school districts other than the one in which they live. Students in grades KG through 12 may apply to participate. Students may attend pre-kindergarten or early childhood programs only if the student's resident school district also provides such a program and if the student is eligible for the program.
The open enrollment application period is from February 7 through April 29 at 4 PM. Late applications will not be accepted for any reason. Parents may apply in one of two ways:
1) Online (recommended) at http://dpi.wi.gov/open-enrollment/applications;
2) Although the online application is recommended, paper applications may be obtained from the Department of Public Instruction and must be delivered (hand-delivery is recommended) to the nonresident school district.
A student may apply to no more than 3 nonresident school districts. There is no tuition cost to parents for their children's participation in open enrollment. Parents are responsible for transporting their children to and from school, with the exception of a student receiving special education with an individualized education program (IEP) requiring transportation.
Open enrollment is not guaranteed. Reasons for denial include the following:
- Space is not available for the student
- The student has been expelled during the current school year or during the two preceding school years for certain violent conduct.
- The special education program the student requires is not available in the school district; there is no space in the special education program; or if the student has been referred for an evaluation but has not yet been evaluated.
- If the student was habitually truant from the nonresident school district during any semester in the current or previous school year.
If more students apply to attend then spaces available, preference is given to students who are already attending the district then siblings of students currently attending the district. After granting this preference, students assigned to any remaining spaces are selected randomly. Once a student is accepted into our district, the student can continue to attend the district without having to reapply.
A resident school district may limit the number of students attending the nonresident school districts under open enrollment to 9% of the district's enrollment. If the resident district imposes this limitation, it must give preference to students who are already attending the nonresident district to which they are applying under open enrollment and to siblings of students who are already attending the nonresident district. Any remaining students who will be permitted to enroll must be selected randomly.
In addition, a school district may prevent a student who needs special education from attending a nonresident school district if the tuition cost for the student creates an undue financial burden for the resident district.
Parents whose applications are denied may appeal to the DPI within 30 days after receiving the notice of denial. Late appeals cannot be accepted. The statutes require the DPI to uphold a school district's decision unless the DPI finds that the decision was arbitrary or unreasonable. The DPI's decisions may be appealed to the circuit court.
A student attending under open enrollment may return to her or his resident school district at any time. However, once the student returns to the resident district, the student may not go back to the nonresident district unless the student reapplies during the February application period. (Returning to the resident district may affect your eligibility for interscholastic athletics).
If a student moves out of the district during the current school year, they may apply for a Tuition Waiver to complete the school year in the nonresident school district. To continue in the nonresident school district after the current school year and if they move before the end of the open enrollment period on April 30, they must complete an open enrollment application. More information on tuition waivers can be found on the DPI website .