Reason Foundation: Examining Legislation to Expand Open Enrollment in Arizona

Originally published on February 8, 2021 on

A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, state lawmakers across the country are introducing legislation aimed at empowering families who are seeking out educations that best suit their children, regardless of school attendance zones. In Arizona, state senators recently introduced two bills intended to remove barriers preventing public school students from attending schools outside of their residentially assigned school districts and to help students more easily find transportation to their schools of choice. The well-intentioned legislation could be successful in achieving these goals, but there are a few things policymakers should be mindful of.

While Arizona already has an open enrollment policy that allows families to choose to attend public schools in other school districts, Senate Bill (SB) 1685 is intended to strengthen the existing open enrollment law and ensure families have access to available seats.  The proposed legislation requires that the state and school districts clearly notify families about their rights to apply to attend other public schools. The bill would also strengthen protections for applicants so that they aren’t discriminated against based on factors such as race, income, academic or athletic achievement, or disability status.

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