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Defining Our Future

MPLS Transition and Open Enrollment Update

April 11, 2012

Dear MPLS Parents and Students,

If you have any questions during this transition time, please contact MPLS at 319-273-2185.  MPLS faculty and staff want to provide personalized information, address your questions and assist you in this transition.

As always, the school counselors (Ms. Dieken and Ms. Struck) are available to visit with you and your child about the transition of changing schools.  Please contact the counselors with any questions, as they are ready to listen and address any questions or concerns.

Please review the following information for Open Enrollment (OE).  This text has been approved by the Iowa Department of Education.  Iowa Code 282.18 covers Open Enrollment.

Open enrollment only applies to families/students who are applying to attend a public school district that is not their “home” public school district. (Example: Student resides in the Cedar Falls public school district but decides to complete an open enrollment form to apply to attend the Janesville public school district.)  

*All students will attend the school in their home school district unless they file a NEW open enrollment form with the receiving public school district(s) of their choice by Monday, APRIL 16.***  (A family can always rescind their form after April 16.)

*Students can complete MORE THAN ONE open enrollment form by April 16.  So, if a student is uncertain about their plans for next year,you have the option to complete an open enrollment form with more than one school district.  Students do need to notify schools of their decision by the school’s fall registration date. 

Students need to have all open enrollment forms completed by April 16.  You cannot change your receiving school district options after April 16.  A student can always return to their home school district.

Example:  A student’s home district is Cedar Falls (CF).  The student completes an open enrollment form to the receiving schools of ABC and XYZ by April 16.  The student notifies school ABC at registration to cancel their open enrollment application because he/she will attend XYZ.  The student attends XYZ until Sept. 1 and decides it is not a good fit.  The student can only return to their home school district (CF), unless they pay tuition at another school, or relocate.  Please see question #4 below for more details.  PLEASE complete all open enrollment forms by APRIL 16.



Question #1:  Example: The Smith family’s home district is Cedar Falls (CF).  The Smith family has their child open-enrolled right now from CF to MPLS.  The Smith family has completed an OE form with Janesville school on April 11, 2012.  Janesville "accepts" the OE form. The Smith family wants to make sure their child can attend MPLS if the school is open fall 2012.

  a)  Is the Smith family’s previous OE form with MPLS still valid and the child can attend MPLS fall 2012?  YES
  b)  Did completing the form with Janesville "cancel out/rescind" the previous OE form with MPLS?  NO
  c)  Does the Smith family need to complete an OE form to attend MPLS for the 2012-13 school year since they already have one on file to attend MPLS?  NO

Answer: In summary, families of children who are already in attendance at MPLS do NOT have to fill out new forms to STAY at MPLS.  Filing an OE form with Janesville does not rescind the OE form to MPLS.


Question 2: Can we submit an OE request for more than one school?  If we can, how soon do we need to make our final decision?  

Answer: Yes, a family can submit an OE form to more than one school.  Families need to notify all schools at fall registration (early Aug.) which school the child will attend.  


Question 3: Where do we submit the OE forms?  If we submit it to Waterloo/Cedar Falls, will they send a copy to the other school or should we do that ourselves?

Answer:  You should submit OE forms to the "receiving" school (e.g., Janesville) and provide a copy to the home school district (Cedar Falls).   


Question 4: What happens if, after a couple of weeks, the new school the student open enrolled to is not a good fit?  Can the student switch to another district?

Answer:  In case of a “bad fit,” the student must return only to their resident district or pay tuition to a different school or district.  “Good cause” is available to open enroll elsewhere only as defined in the open enrollment statute, as follows:

282.18(4)(b)  … "good cause" means a change in a child's residence due to a change in family residence, a change in the state in which the family residence is located, a change in a child's parents' marital status, a guardianship or custody proceeding, placement in foster care, adoption, participation in a foreign exchange program, or participation in a substance abuse or mental health treatment program, a change in the status of a child's resident district such as removal of accreditation by the state board, surrender of accreditation, or permanent closure of a nonpublic school, revocation of a charter school contract as provided in section 256F.8, the failure of negotiations for a whole grade sharing, reorganization, dissolution agreement or the rejection of a current whole grade sharing agreement, or reorganization plan. If the good cause relates to a change in status of a child's school district of residence, however, action by a parent or guardian must be taken to file the notification within forty-five days of the last board action or within thirty days of the certification of the election, whichever is applicable to the circumstances.

Open enrollment applications filed after March 1 of the preceding school year that do not qualify for good cause as provided in subsection 4 shall be subject to the approval of the board of the resident district and the board of the receiving district.  The parent or guardian shall send notification to the district of residence and the receiving district that the parent or guardian seeks to enroll the parent's or guardian's child in the receiving district.  A decision of either board to deny an application filed under this subsection involving repeated acts of harassment of the student or serious health condition of the student that the resident district cannot adequately address is subject to appeal under section 290.1.  The state board shall exercise broad discretion to achieve just and equitable results that are in the best interest of the affected child or children.


Question 5:  What is the current status of our open enrollment request from Cedar Falls to Malcolm Price Lab school?  If MPLS should remain open for the 2012/2013 school year, do we need to reapply for open enrollment to MPLS?  Should we file those forms now?  If we filed on or before the March 1st deadline, should we file another one at this point?

Answer:  No, the family does not need to reapply for open enrollment to MPLS as long as they were enrolled at MPLS for the 2011-12 school year.  


Question 6:  Is my open enrollment form a request to attend a specific school district or a specific building? 

Answer:  The open enrollment form is a request to attend a school district – NOT a building. 

Department of Education administrative rule 281-17.6(4) states, “the right of a parent/guardian to request open enrollment is to a district other than the district of residence, not to an attendance center within the nonresident district.  In accepting an open enrollment pupil, the receiving district board has the same authority it has in regard to its resident pupils as provided by Iowa Code section 279.11, to “determine the particular school which each child shall attend.” In the application process, however, the parent or guardian may request an attendance center of preference.” Again, they can indicate a preference to the district. 


Additional Transfer Information Documents:

Cedar Falls Community Schools Guidelines for Attendance Outside the Resident Area  (PDF)

Waterloo and Cedar Falls Community Schools Transfer Information  (PDF) 


Update on the Transition:

 To keep you informed of the work in-progress during this transition, the following actions have taken place:

  • Child Development Center (CDC) will continue to operate as usual and will relocate to a new site on UNI’s campus – Hillside Court.  There is an excellent playground, direct access from classrooms for ease of moving the children, close parking, and several other amenities. 
  • All UNI students will be completing their Level II and III clinical field experiences in area school districts effective fall 2012.
  • The North Iowa Cedar League (NICL – athletic conference) was officially notified to not schedule any activities/events for grades 7-12 after July 31, 2012. 
  • All student academic records will be maintained at the UNI Registrar’s Office starting this summer.  All websites will be updated to keep everyone informed of who to contact for transcripts.

Please refer to the following site for transition team information:

If you have any questions regarding the transition, please contact MPLS at 319-273-2185.  We also encourage families to contact any school you are considering attending in fall 2012 to address any specific questions.