Superintendent's Memo #185-10

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

COMMONWEALTH of VIRGINIA
Department of Education

August 6, 2010

TO: Division Superintendents

FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT: Student Enrollment Requirements

As you prepare for the 2010-2011 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/her.

Questions continue to arise regarding a local school board's authority to inquire into a prospective 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.

Additionally, Virginia is now a member of the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. The purpose of the Compact is to streamline the transfer of children of military families into Virginia public schools. Specifically, the Compact addresses the following:

Records and Enrollment – The Compact provides that, upon receipt of an unofficial education record by a school division in the receiving state, the receiving school “shall enroll and appropriately place the student based on the information provided in the unofficial records pending validation by the official records, as quickly as possible.” Affected states have 10 days or a reasonable time frame determined by Compact rules to transfer official records to a receiving school. Transferring students shall be allowed to continue their enrollment at the grade level in the receiving state commensurate with the grade level in the sending state, including kindergarten, regardless of any minimum age requirements.

Immunizations – Children of military families, without documentation of immunizations, should be immediately enrolled and shall have up to 30 days from the date of enrollment to obtain any immunizations required by the receiving state. For more information, please refer to the following superintendent’s memorandum issued on June 25, 2010: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/administrators/superintendents_memos/2010/145-10.shtml.

Placement – A receiving school shall initially honor placement of the student in educational courses based on the student’s enrollment in the sending state and/or educational assessment conducted at the school in the sending state. In compliance with federal requirements, the receiving state shall initially provide comparable services to a student with disabilities based on his Individualized Education Program (IEP) and the receiving state shall make reasonable accommodations and modifications to address the student’s needs. (This does not preclude the receiving school from performing subsequent evaluations to ensure appropriate placement.)

Eligibility – Children covered under the Compact “shall be eligible for enrollment in the public schools of Virginia provided that the documents required by §§ 22.1-3.1 and 22.1-3.2 are provided and subject to the authority of a local education agency to exclude such children from attendance pursuant to § 22.1-277.2 or if such children have been found guilty or adjudicated delinquent for any offense listed in subsection G of § 16.1-260 or any substantially similar offense under the laws of any state, the District of Columbia, or the United States or its territories.” Furthermore, school divisions are prohibited from charging tuition where the child is in the care of a noncustodial parent or is in the care of a person standing in loco parentis. Such children may also continue to attend the school in which they were enrolled while residing with the custodial parent.

Graduation – School divisions shall waive specific courses required for graduation if similar coursework has been completed in another school. If such a waiver is denied, the school division must provide a justification for such denial. Should a waiver not be granted to a student who would qualify to graduate from a sending school, the receiving school division will be required to provide an alternative means of acquiring required coursework to facilitate on-time graduation. Should a military student transferring in the senior year be ineligible to graduate from the receiving school division after all alternatives have been exhausted, then the sending school division shall ensure receipt of a diploma, provided that the student meets the requirements for graduation of the sending school division.

For additional information about this Compact, please go to: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/student_family/military/va_council/index.shtml or please reference superintendent’s memorandum number, 186-10, dated August 6, 2010.

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 that they are not required to provide the number, why you want the number, and how it will be used. You must also explain any effect not providing the number will have. The division 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 immediately 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 school division liaison required to assist the student in obtaining necessary physical examinations or proof of completion of immunizations. For more information regarding the enrollment of homeless students, please visit: http://education.wm.edu/centers/hope/.

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. See §22.1-3.4 of the Code of Virginia for additional information regarding the enrollment of students in foster care.

Comprehensive Preschool Physical Examination

Section 22.1-270 of the Code of Virginia precludes the admission of students for the first time to any public kindergarten or elementary school in a school division unless the student furnishes either a report of a comprehensive physical examination from a qualified licensed physician, or a licensed nurse practitioner or licensed physician assistant acting under the supervision of a licensed physician. The examination must be of the scope prescribed by the State Health Commissioner and must have been performed within 12 months before the date the student first enters the public school. In the alternative, students may provide records showing that they furnished such a report upon admission to another school or school division and provide the information that was contained in that report. Please note that while the report of the comprehensive physical examination must contain the elements prescribed by the State Health Commissioner, state law does not require it to be on the School Entrance Health Form, MCH 213F, to be accepted by the local school board. Therefore, school divisions cannot deny enrollment to a student who provides the necessary report on a different form. Section 22.1-270 also includes special provisions for homeless students as well as an exemption from the physical examination for students whose parents object for religious reasons. Additionally, §22.1-3.4 of the Code provides specific requirements for the immediate enrollment of children in foster care who do not have the requisite physical examination report. For more information, please refer to the following superintendent’s memorandum issued on June 25, 2010: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/administrators/superintendents_memos/2010/145-10.shtml.

You may reference 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 by e-mail at policy@doe.virginia.gov, if you need additional information.

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