Children with disabilities can and do participate in open enrollment. A pupil may not be denied open enrollment because the pupil is a child with a disability or based on the category of the disability.
However, any open enrollment application may be denied if the nonresident school district does not have space for the pupil. For a child with a disability, this includes availability of and space in the special education and related services required in the pupil’s individualized education program (IEP).
Following is information about open enrollment for children with disabilities:
Statewide Participation in Open Enrollment by Children with Disabilities
Processing Applications for Children with Disabilities
- Bulletin 14-05 Special Education and Open Enrollment
- Procedures for Acting on Open Enrollment Applications
- Making Special Education Decisions
- PI-9414 District Record of Decision in Appeal of Undue Financial Burden
- Transportation for Students with Disabilities
The Department of Public Instruction does not transfer funds from the resident to the nonresident school district for children with disabilities who are open enrolled. Instead, the nonresident school district bills the resident school district for the basic open enrollment payment amount plus any actual, additional costs to provide special education to the child with a disability.
- PI-9423 – Special Education Cost Estimate and Invoice
- Accounting Codes and Examples for Open Enrollment Special Education Payments
- Doe v. Burmaster, Order of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin, re calculation of open enrollment special education costs -
- December 2004 State Superintendent letter to school districts concerning special education cost calculation
- January 2006 State Superintendent letter to CESAs concerning special education cost calculation
Responsibility for Special Education for Open Enrolled Children with Disabilities
The nonresident school district is the local educational agency (LEA) responsible to provide a free, appropriate public education to children with disabilities attending the school district under open enrollment.
If a pupil attending a nonresident school district is suspected of having a disability, the referral for a special education evaluation may be made to either the resident or the nonresident school district. The nonresident school district must convene an IEP team. The resident school district must appoint a member to the IEP team. The resident school district representative is required to attend IEP team meetings unless the representative has been excused in writing.
If an IEP is developed or revised for the pupil, the nonresident school district may consider whether it has the special education and related services for the pupil. If no, the nonresident school district may notify the parent and the resident school district that the pupil must return to the resident school district. If the nonresident school district does have the special education and related services, the nonresident school district must offer a placement to the parent and send a cost estimate to the resident school district.
If the resident school district determines that the cost of the special education and related services in the nonresident school district is an undue financial burden, the resident school district may require the pupil to return to the resident school district.
If either the nonresident or resident school district notifies the parent that the pupil must return to the resident school district, the parent may file an appeal with the DPI within 30 days of receipt of the notice to return.
Letters for Denial of Continued Open Enrollment Based on New or Revised IEP
- Resident school district denial of continued open enrollment due to undue financial burden
- Nonresident school district denial of continued open enrollment because special education is not available
- Nonresident school district denial of continued open enrollment because special education space is not available