COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

P.O. BOX 2120

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120

SUPTS. MEMO NO. 183

August 15, 2008

INFORMATIONAL

TO:

Division Superintendents

 

FROM:

Billy K. Cannaday, Jr.

Superintendent of Public Instruction

 

SUBJECT:

Student Enrollment Requirements

 

As you prepare for the 2008-2009 school year, I want to take the opportunity to provide you with certain information regarding enrollment requirements that has caused some confusion in the past. Please distribute this information as widely as possible throughout your school division.

 

Residency

Code of Virginia 22.1-3 provides that the public schools in each school division shall be free to each person of school age who resides within the school division. A student is deemed a resident of a school division and entitled to enroll in school if he or she is living with a natural parent. A court order or proof of custody cannot be required of a natural parent for the enrollment of a student who is living with him.

 

Questions continue to arise regarding a local school board's authority to inquire into a perspective student's citizenship or visa status and to bar enrollment to those students who reside within the school division but do not hold a student visa. Pursuant to a decision by the United States Supreme Court, Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982), school divisions are required to accept students who meet residency requirements under 22.1-3 of the Code and may not deny a free public education to undocumented school-age children who reside within their jurisdiction because they do not hold valid United States citizenship or a student visa.

 

Students with a Parent or Parents in the Military

 

A student is deemed a resident of a school division and cannot be denied admission or charged tuition if the student is living with an individual who is defined as a parent, not solely for school purposes, pursuant to a Special Power of Attorney executed under Title 10, United States Code, 1044b, by the custodial parent while such custodial parent is deployed outside the United States as a member of the Virginia National Guard or as a member of the United States Armed Forces. When practicable, such students may continue to attend school in the school division they attended immediately prior to the deployment without paying tuition for attending school in that division.

 

Social Security Numbers

 

School divisions may not refuse to enroll a student whose parent does not furnish a social security number for that student. If your enrollment forms include a space for a social security number, you must explain to the parent why you want the number, what it will be used for and that provision of the number is not required. The superintendent or his designee may assign another identifying number or waive the requirement if a parent is unwilling to present a social security number for the child.

 

Homeless Students

 

School divisions must enroll homeless students. School divisions must coordinate the provision of services to homeless students with relevant local social services agencies and other agencies and programs providing services to such students, and with other school divisions. Superintendents cannot exclude from school attendance those homeless children who do not provide the requisite health or immunization information required of other students. School divisions must immediately refer the student to the local school division liaison required to assist the student in obtaining necessary physical examinations or proof or completion of immunizations.

 

Students in Foster Care

 

A student who has been placed in foster care by a local social services agency shall be immediately enrolled even if the placing social services agency is unable to produce the documents required for enrollment. In such cases, the person enrolling the student must provide a written statement at the time of enrollment.

 

I have attached a copy of Virginia Code 22.1-3 for your information. It provides more details regarding residency in a school division. I hope you will find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to contact the Office of Policy and Communications, at (804) 225-2403 or policy@doe.virginia.gov if you need additional information.

 

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Attachment

 

a. Virginia Code 22.1-3 (PDF)