What is Arizona’s open enrollment law?

In 1994, Arizona made large changes to its education laws, including the introduction of charter schools and the passage of Arizona Revised Statute §15-816, which provided students the opportunity to “open enroll” at the school of their choice.

That law states school districts must implement a policy to allow state students who reside inside or outside a district’s boundaries to enroll in any school in a district. Districts also may not prevent a student who resides in the district from enrolling in a school in another district.


Two primary exceptions remain to the statute. A district school does not have to take in a student who has been expelled or is in the process of being expelled from another school. A school also does not have to take in open enrollment students if it is at or over capacity.

This law is meant to promote competition among schools for students—and with them, funding—as a means of improving the schools and education in the state.
By Tom Blodgett

Editor, Gilbert

Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent more than 30 years in journalism in Arizona and joined Community Impact Newspaper in July 2018 to launch the Gilbert edition. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he served as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2005-19 and remains editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.