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Key Issue Header

Open Enrollment Flexibility


Key Message

Military families are at a disadvantage when it comes to the enrollment options available to their children due to military-directed reassignments. States can help by ensuring that school districts provide military families with flexibility when it comes to the enrollment options available to their children.


Military families have limited housing options when moving to a new location as part of a permanent change of station. As a result, school and district options for military children can also be limited. Many military families must move from temporary to permanent housing at some point after school has started, or move from permanent to temporary housing prior to moving out of state on military orders. Additionally, some military families have no choice but to live in military housing (due to command requirements), thus may not have the same schooling/placement options available to other students.


Currently, 46 states have varied open enrollment policies that may be mandatory or voluntary for school districts; may apply only to either inter-district or intra-district transfers; and may provide priority to students who are part of designated categories. These open enrollment policies can address the unique housing-related challenges for military families by including a mandatory provision specific to military children, adding military children to existing prioritization systems, and/or allowing military children to remain in their current school placement despite a mid-year relocation.

State Policymakers

If you are a state policymaker, request more information.