Committee

Education

Author

Chris Johnson

Session

2024 Session

Referred to Senate Education Committee

Latest Action


On February 5, SB 2234 was referred to the Senate Education Committee, where it awaits a vote.

Explanation of the Bill


Senate Bill 2234 would significantly ease the process of student transfers between traditional public school districts by making approval of a transfer solely contingent upon the capacity of a receiving district to accept a transfer student. If such capacity exists, neither the home district or the receiving district would have authority to deny a transfer request.

Mississippi currently has a very limited form of “Open Enrollment” that allows students to transfer from their home district (or “transferor district,” i.e., the school district whose geographical boundaries the student lives within) to a receiving district (or “transferee district”), provided that both districts approve the transfer request. While there are a few exceptions to this process (see table below), the requirement of both districts to approve a transfer creates a significant barrier to inter-district transfers.

SB 2234 would eliminate the authority of both the transferor district and transferee district to deny a transfer request, unless the transferee district determines that there is not “capacity at the desired school in the grade level that the transferring child is requesting to attend.” SB 2234 does not specify how districts must determine capacity, aside from requiring a transferee district to use “publicly verifiable data.” If a transferee district receives more transfer applicants than there is available capacity, they must implement a lottery to randomly determine selection.

SB 2234 would make a handful of minor changes to existing transfer pathways for students in particular circumstances. However, because SB 2234 is not explicit about applying the same capacity language to these particular circumstances, it is somewhat unclear if a transferee district may deny a transfer based on a lack of capacity if one of the circumstances apply. These existing transfer pathways, including changes under SB 2234, are as follows:

CircumstanceRelevant Code(s)Approval NeededTuition & FeesChanges under SB 2234
Any student 37-15-31(1); 37-151-93Transferor district and transferee district may choose to approve or deny the request.Transferee district may charge tuition.Transferee district must approve the transfer upon request, if capacity allows; transferor district may not veto the request; transferee district must implement a lottery if applicants exceed available capacity.
Student who is a child of “an instructional or licensed employee” of the transferee district.37-15-31(2); 37-15-29(2)Both districts must approve the transfer upon request.Transferee district may not charge tuition.No change
Student who resides more than 30 miles away from the transferor district and resides closer to the transferee district.37-15-31(3); 37-15-29(3);37-151-93(2)Both districts must approve the transfer upon request, though they can appeal a transfer request to the State Board of Education.Transferor district shall pay pro rata local maintenance funds to transferee district.No change
Student, or their sibling, who transferred prior to July 1, 1992.37-15-31(4);37-15-29(4)Transferee district must approve the transfer upon request.Law does not specify.Removes date restriction: transferee district must approve transfer request of a sibling of a student who has already transferred to the district, regardless of when the student transferred; transferor district shall pay pro rata local maintenance funds to transferee district.
Student who resides in annexed territory of a municipal separate school district without school board representation.37-15-31(5)Both districts must approve the transfer upon request.Transferee district may not charge tuition; transferor district must remit pro rata ad valorem taxes to transferee district.No change
Student who is a child of active duty or civilian military personnel and resides within 30 miles of the transferee district.37-15-29(5)No approval necessary.Law does not specify.Transferor district shall pay pro rata local maintenance funds to transferee district.
Note: “Any student” refers to all students whom the listed circumstances do not apply.

SB 2234 is similar to HB 867, though, under HB 867, transferee districts retain broader authority to deny transfer requests. Unlike HB 867, SB 2234 does not require districts to publicly report their capacity as well as any “tuition, fee or other financial obligation imposed” on transferring students. SB 2234 would likely encourage more families to petition for an inter-district transfer, and it is likely that additional transfers will be approved. However, there remain two potential roadblocks to families: district capacity and the extent to which they will charge transfer students tuition.

DateDetails
2/5/24On February 5, SB 2234 was referred to the Senate Education Committee.