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FAQs: Oklahoma’s New Open Transfer Policy

FAQs: Oklahoma’s New Open Transfer Policy

On March 31, 2021, Governor Kevin Stitt signed Senate Bill 783 into law and it went into effect on Jan. 1, 2022. Right School, Right Opportunity was inspired by reviewing the current education system that assigned students to a public school district based on the zip code they lived within. If the assigned school was not the best fit for a student, their family would go through a discouraging transfer process where they could be denied a transfer without regard to the student’s needs.

With the passage of the Education Open Transfer Act, Oklahoma students and their families are more empowered than ever to choose a school that best fits their needs, giving them every opportunity to succeed now and in the future. Watch this explainer video for more information.

What does this mean for you? Here are some frequently asked questions to help you navigate the new open transfer process:

Q: When is the best time to check my desired district for the number of open seats available?
By the first day of January, April, July, and October school boards must establish and publish their enrollment capacity for each grade level and for each school site. This information will be available on each district’s website.

Q: What if there are no available spots in the district I want my child to attend?
If there are no spots currently available at your preferred school district, you should find out if that district offers a waitlist. If it does, then go ahead and apply for a transfer in order to get on the waitlist and follow up frequently with the district.

Q: What is the rule regarding high school athletes transferring districts?
OSSAA, which oversees secondary-school athletics in Oklahoma, requires varsity students to sit-out one full school year from the date they first attended their new school. However, this only applies to athletes who have established previous athletic eligibility at their current school. So, it wouldn’t apply to students joining a sport for the first time at their new school. OSSAA does allow exemptions through a “hardship waiver,” if a student transfers because of hardships outside of their control. More information about OSSAA guidelines can be found here.

Q: Does open transfer have any special provisions for military parents?
Children of a parent who is an active member of the military or a member of the military reserve on active duty cannot be denied a transfer because of the capacity limitations of that district.

Q: Can I apply to multiple districts at the same time?
Yes! You can apply to multiple districts and be on their waitlists at the same time.

Q: How long will my transfer stay in effect?
Transfers are guaranteed for one year. After that, whether or not the transfer remains in place depends on the specific district’s policies.

Q: How do I apply for an open transfer?
Follow these steps:

  1. Check with the district you are applying to for specific information. You may apply via the Oklahoma State Department of Education Open Transfer Portal, or by using the Oklahoma State Department of Education form. Certain districts may also require their own form specific to their district. Those forms should be available on the district’s website.
  2. Next, turn in the forms to the receiving district. The district will then notify you of the status of your application process. If your request is denied you have 10 days to appeal using this form.

House Bill 3038 was passed during the 2022 legislative session. It further enhanced the state’s open transfer policy. Here are some modifications to the state’s open transfer policy for public schools that were included in this bill:

  • It allows a district to accept any brother or sister of a transfer student regardless of capacity if the district's policy gives preference to sibling transfers;
  • It requires a district to accept the transfer of a child whose parent or guardian is a district employee regardless of capacity, if the district transfer policy gives preference to the employee's children;
  • It allows a receiving district to give priority to a student transfer regardless of capacity if the student was a resident student for at least three years but moved out of the district;
  • It clarifies that transferred students may automatically continue to attend the school they have transferred to after their first year.

Click here for more information about the open transfer policy.