After a child is enrolled, the school can’t just tell the child to leave or disenroll them. Schools must go through the following process to remove the student from school because of residency.
1. The district will notify you
The district’s board must first decide that a child is not a resident. Then it must send a certified letter to the person who enrolled the child stating that the district believes the child is a non-resident.
2. Ask for a hearing
The person who enrolled the child, usually the parent, has the right to ask for a hearing and request that the school keep the child enrolled until the matter is decided.
The request for a hearing and to keep the child enrolled should be made in writing by certified mail within 10 days of the school’s notice.
A residency hearing should then be quickly scheduled.
3. Attend the hearing
The school enrollment hearing is held before a hearing officer. The person enrolling the child must show evidence that the child is a resident. Statements from the parent or caretaker will not usually be enough.
The following are some tips for the residency hearing:
- Before the hearing, ask for a written statement from the school describing the specific reason why it thinks the child is not a resident.
- Before the hearing, request the student’s complete record from the district, including investigatory material.
- Bring witnesses who can show that the school’s reasons are wrong and who actually know where the parent or caretaker and the child live. People who have seen the child living in the home are good witnesses. For example, neighbors who have seen the child and parent or caretaker at the address often, parents of the child’s friends who have been at the home, babysitters, or even a landlord.
- If a witness can’t come to the hearing bring a written statement from them (an affidavit is best) describing when, where, and how they know the child lives at the address.
- Bring utility bills, driver’s license, other forms of IDs, a lease, voters registration, car registration, a picture of the mailbox with your name, etc.
- If you are not a relative, you must show that you care for the child. Bring witnesses who can state that you care for the child. Also bring any papers that show you pay medical bills or school fees, or have purchased clothing, toys, etc. for the child.
4. Wait for the findings
After the residency hearing, the hearing officer will issue a report of the findings. You may file objections to these findings to the District’s Board of Education. When the findings and their objections are filed, the board will make a final decision. Any decision can be appealed to the Circuit Court for review.
The school often has a lawyer at a residency hearing. The person enrolling the child has a right to bring a lawyer, to present evidence, and to call witnesses. The school won’t provide you with a lawyer. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may be able to get free legal help.
There are different rules for children that are experiencing homelessness. Schools cannot force such students into residency hearings. Instead they must stop the residency hearing and follow the process for dispute resolution. In the dispute process, the school must refer you to free or low cost legal assistance.