Parents of students throughout Florida have enrollment options available to them through a process called “controlled open enrollment.”
The Florida legislature passed a statute that allows students to request a transfer to another school besides their zoned school, including transfers to public schools in surrounding counties.
During controlled open enrollment, parents seeking additional choice options for their students can apply for placement in any school in the state that has not reached capacity and still has seats available. The goal is to promote and encourage parental involvement and ensure students have access to a school that meets their needs.
How to Apply
The application window for residents of Polk County begins the first Monday in April and ends the last Friday in April.
The application window for non-residents of Polk County begins the first Monday in May and ends the last Friday in May.
Those approved for transfers through the controlled open enrollment window will be notified in writing once the enrollment period ends. Parents are required to take the notification letter to the assigned school by the date specified within the letter; the school will then provide a class schedule for the child.
Other Important Information
A list of available schools will be posted prior to the application period opening.
Approved applicants will be notified in writing once the enrollment period ends. You are required to take your letter to your assigned school within 14 calendar days to obtain a class schedule and claim your seat.
Important notes about Controlled Open Enrollment:
- Transportation to and from the transfer school is the responsibility of the parent or guardian.
- Student hardship transfer/placement is available for students within Polk County only.
IEP requirements cannot be guaranteed for students accepting a Controlled Open Enrollment placement.
What is Controlled Open Enrollment (COE)?
COE will provide additional opportunities for students to attend a school other than the zoned school where there is available capacity. Through the District’s COE Plan, parents are provided greater choice options.
When does COE go into effect?
Beginning in the 2017-2018 school year COE Schools will be available.
How will the district define capacity and how will the district determine which schools are available for COE?
Capacity for COE enrollment is identified based on the enrollment. If the school is less than 90% of the FISH capacity (Florida Inventory of School Houses). Schools identified as schools operating with less than 90% capacity are eligible for COE transfer/placement assignments for the 2019-2020 school year.
What is the COE application process?
Online Applications are available on the School District’s website. Applications will only be taken during the open enrollment window as indicated on the website for Polk and Non-Polk residents. Paper copies are available at each school for those without access to a computer. Currently, the month of April for the Polk students and the month of May for non-Polk students.
How will the lottery work?
Parents can choose a primary (1st) and a secondary (2nd) choice for school request for transfer/placement. All applications will be processed according to the random number assigned. In accordance with Florida law, applications shall be grouped: Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3 and Phase 4. Separate lotteries will be conducted for applicants in Phases 1 through 4. Random numbers will be selected, and the applications in each Phase shall be places in order of their selection. There will be two separate lotteries with in-county and out-of-county students being numbered separately. The out-of-county applications will only be considered if there are still remaining open seats after the completion of the in-county lottery.
If my child is selected in a lottery to attend a COE school, what am I to do?
Once notified of a lottery selection, the parent enrolls the student at the specified COE school using the approval letter/email issued by Pupil Accounting.
Will siblings receive preference under COE?
Applicants with a verified sibling shall be noted and maintained in a sibling list. If one sibling is selected, other verified siblings will be given priority. Every effort will be made to place siblings at the same school. An application must be completed for each child. Siblings are defined as a brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, living in the same household. Verification will be required.
Will an application submitted on the first Monday in April for Polk residents be given preference over an application submitted later in April? 1st Monday in May or later in May for non-Polk residents?
Applications submitted during the COE window are given equal consideration regardless of whether submitted on the first day of the window or the last day of the window. Remember there is a lottery process.
If my child is not selected through the 1st round of COE, will there be a wait list?
Yes. If seats re-open the student with the next number in the lottery will be notified and offered a seat. This process will only continue until the 8th day count. The list will then be dissolved.
If my child is not selected through COE is there an appeal process?
No, COE is based strictly on capacity and on a lottery procedure.
Can I apply through a “hardship transfer” if my child isn’t placed through COE?
Not being selected by the lottery for COE does not constitute a hardship. However, an identified/verified hardship can be reviewed by the District Committee.
If my child has an IEP, 504 Plan is he/she eligible to apply for COE?
Yes. If accepted, an IEP team will convene to determine whether the needs of the student can be adequately addressed and that those services in the IEP can be provided at the chosen school. If not, the student will not be enrolled. The District’s ESE department will serve on the IEP team.
My child is currently serving out-of-school suspension or recommended for expulsion. Can I request a transfer/placement through COE?
No. Student request for transfer/placement will not be approved through COE. The student must complete the assigned disciplinary action.
Will my child have to apply each year for COE?
No. Students who transfer/placed under COE may remain at the COE school until he/she completes the highest grade at the school. However, once the student completes the highest grade at the COE school the student must return to the zoned school or receive another lottery selection to another COE school. Non-Polk students must return to their school district if another lottery selection is not approved.
Does the Polk School District provide transportation to the COE school?
No transportation is provided by the district. Transportation is the responsibility of the parent/guardian.
Can my child’s COE transfer/placement be rescinded/revoked?
Yes. A COE transfer/placement can be if:
- False information is provided, attendance, tardiness, late pick-ups or discipline incidents happen at the receiving COE school.
Is COE transfer/Placement option available for my pre-kindergarten child?
No. Pre-K programs are not mandatory; therefore, COE options are not available.