JFC Budget Significantly Changes Open Enrollment for Students with Disabilities

The K-12 education funding package adopted by the Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee (JFC) significantly modifies the public school open enrollment program for students with disabilities. The higher denial rates among these students seeking to use open enrollment to transfer to another public school district have long been a point of contention between some schools and parents.

These changes would delete the statutory requirement that the resident school board of an open enrolling student with disabilities pay tuition to the nonresident school board and would instead provide the receiving (nonresident) district with a $12,000 transfer payment. This eliminates the need for the receiving district to cost out the student’s individualized education plan (IEP) and to bill the resident district for cost of the special education and related services.

Since the student’s resident district would not be required to pay the costs of educating the student with disabilities in the receiving district he or she attends under open enrollment, the resident district board would lose the right to object to the transfer on the grounds of “undue financial burden”.

The WASB supports these changes and worked with disability rights groups, school administrators, special education administrators and the DPI in their development.