Open Enrollment

For more information contact the Enrollment Center at 414-604-3014.

What is Public School Open Enrollment?
Wisconsin’s 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. Applications may be submitted to up to three nonresident school districts.

Who may participate in open enrollment?
Pupils in 5-year-old kindergarten to grade 12 may apply to participate in open enrollment.

Open enrollment for prekindergarten, 4-year-old kindergarten and early childhood education is limited. Parents should call their resident school districts to find out if their preschool-aged children qualify for open enrollment.

How and when may parents apply?
The open enrollment application period is February 3, 2020. The application period closes at 4:00 p.m. on May 29, 2020. Late applications will not be accepted for any reason.

Parents may apply online at

Can I apply to a virtual charter school under open enrollment?
A pupil may only open enroll to an online/virtual school if: (1) the school has been created as a virtual charter school that meets the requirements of the charter school law [Wis. Stats. 118.40 (8)] or (2) the pupil is required to physically attend school in the nonresident school district every day that school is in session. Other important things to know about applying to virtual charter schools:

  • A virtual charter school is not homeschooling. Pupils attending virtual charter schools are public school pupils.

  • You must know the nonresident school district in which the virtual charter school is located. If you have any questions about this, call the virtual charter school.

  • You must know your resident school district in order to apply.

  •  A list of virtual charter schools may be found at this webpage.

Can an application be rejected?
Yes. Nonresident school districts may deny an application if regular or special education space is not available for the pupil; special education or related services are not available; or if the pupil has been referred for a special education evaluation but has not yet been evaluated. Nonresident school districts may also deny an application if the pupil has been expelled during the current or preceding two years for certain violent conduct or if the pupil was habitually truant from the nonresident school district during any semester in the current or previous school year.

If there are more applications than spaces, pupils must be selected randomly, after giving preference to pupils already attending school in the nonresident school district and siblings of currently-attending pupils.

Some school districts establish waiting lists to fill unused spaces, but others do not.

Can a resident district prevent a pupil from leaving?
Yes, in limited circumstances. A resident district can deny a pupil’s application for an invalid application (early or late application or missing information), ineligibility due to age (too young or too old), or if the resident district does not offer the same type of prekindergarten, four-year-old kindergarten, or early childhood program as the nonresident district or the pupil is not eligible for the program in the resident district. These are also reasons that a nonresident district can deny an application.

Can parents appeal if an application is denied?
Parents whose applications are denied may appeal to the DPI within 30 days of the denial. State law requires the DPI to uphold the school district’s decision unless DPI finds that the decision was arbitrary or unreasonable. The DPI’s decision may be appealed to circuit court.

Must pupils reapply every year?
Once a pupil is accepted into a nonresident school district, the pupil may continue to attend that district without reapplication except that:
- The nonresident district may require a pupil to reapply one time—at the beginning of middle school, junior high or high school.
- A pupil may be returned to the resident school district if the special education required in a new or revised IEP is not available in the nonresident district or there is no space.
- A pupil who has become habitually truant in the nonresident district may be returned to the resident district.

Is there a cost to parents for open enrollment?
There is no tuition cost to parents for participation in open enrollment. Parents of open enrolled pupils may be charged the same fees as resident pupils.

Who is responsible for transportation?
Parents are responsible for transporting their children to and from school.
If transportation is required in the individualized education program (IEP) for a child with a disability, it must be provided by the nonresident district.

School districts may provide transportation to open enrollment pupils if they wish. Usually, if transportation is provided, parents must transport the pupil to a location in the nonresident district.

Low-income parents may apply to the DPI for partial reimbursement of their transportation costs.

If a pupil requests a specific school or program, is the pupil guaranteed that program if the application is approved?
No. A pupil may request a specific school or program, but assignment to that program is not guaranteed. [Wis. Stat. § 118.51(3)(a)1 and (10)] 64.

If a pupil’s application for open enrollment is approved, but the pupil is assigned to a different school than requested, can the pupil appeal the school assignment?
No. Only a denial of open enrollment to a school district may be appealed to the DPI. If an application is approved, but the pupil is not assigned to the specific school requested, the parent must decide whether to accept the alternative assignment or to forego open enrollment. [Wis. Stat. § 118.51(9)]

Can an open enrolled pupil participate in sports and other extra-curricular activities in the nonresident school district?
Open enrolled pupils have the same rights and responsibilities as resident pupils.

Inter-scholastic athletics are governed by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA), which has rules concerning transfer pupils. Parents should check with the school district’s athletic director about eligibility.

For more information contact:
Public School Open Enrollment Program
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
P.O. Box 7841, Madison, WI 53707-7841
Toll-free: 888-245-2732
Web site: