Colorado Open Enrollment

“Open Enrollment” is the option for Colorado students to enroll in a public school other than their assigned “neighborhood school.”

Example: The school district assigned the children on Tom’s street to attend Snowy Mountain Elementary. After visiting Spruce Elementary, Tom’s family decided that they would rather Tom attend Spruce Elementary. They filled out an open enrollment application and submitted the application before the deadline. Tom was selected to open enroll in Spruce Elementary. Because bus transportation was not provided, Tom’s father drove Tom to school everyday and his mother picked him up.

Students may open enroll into any public school as long as certain criteria are met. Most schools that do not have room for more students will have a waiting list. When there is room for more students, schools will either accept students on a first-come-first-served basis or hold a lottery to determine which students may enroll in the school. Check with individual schools for details.

Additional restrictions may apply to high school students planning to participate in athletics if they open enroll or transfer to a public school. See below for more information.

Click here for the Open Enrollment Checklist to help guide you if you plan to enroll your child in a public school other than your neighborhood school.

Open enrollment applications are for enrollment into a school for the next school year. School districts, and some individual schools, set their own time schedule for accepting open enrollment applications. Many school districts have open enrollment deadlines in December, January, and February, so be sure to plan ahead. Most charter and option schools have different application guidelines and timelines than the local school district. Check with individual charter and option schools to learn about their application process. Click here to find Colorado school district open enrollment web pages.

School districts, and some individual schools (especially charter and option schools), set their own rules about where to pick up and drop off open enrollment applications. Check with the school(s) you are interested to learn about their application process. Click here to find Colorado school district open enrollment web pages.

Many public schools, often called “schools of choice,” have been designed to offer curricula, teaching methods, and programs that are different from traditional public schools to give parents and students more options. Some schools of choice are also “neighborhood” schools that have chosen to offer unique programs.

Public schools of choice may be referred to by many names, including charter, innovation, magnet, option, alternative, focus, and contract schools. There are many educational philosophies to choose from. Click here to read about educational philosophies, methods, and programs available in Colorado public schools.

Click here to search for public schools of choice in your area.

When you open enroll into another school, transportation may or may not be provided. Check with the district or school you are transferring into.

Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) by-laws, in Article 18, addresses athletic eligibility in varsity sports when a student transfers to another high school. If your student open enrolls into a high school and plans to participate in activities covered by CHSAA read Article 18 here.

The open enrollment law lists several reasons why a school district can deny an open enrollment request:

  • There is a lack of space or teaching staff. (Contact the school to ask if there is a waiting list.)
  • The school does not offer a special program or the necessary facilities to meet the student’s needs.
  • The student does not meet the established criteria for a particular program.
  • A desegregation plan is in effect and the denial is necessary for compliance with the desegregation plan.
  • The student has been expelled or is in the process of being expelled from another district, or the student may be denied permission to enroll under circumstances that would allow for expulsion.

If there is not enough space at a school for students who want to transfer in, preference is usually given to students who live in the school district. Check with the district to find out their policies for accepting students.