FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)

ABOUT OUT-OF-DISTRICT TRANSFERS

What are out-of-district transfers?
An out-of-district transfer is a process that allows students to attend a school outside their assigned attendance area.

Why are out-of-district transfers allowed?
Every student and family has unique circumstances; FCPS recognizes that. While it’s generally best for students to attend their local neighborhood schools, academic or personal circumstances sometimes necessitate that a student attend a school other than their local neighborhood school. FCPS also received feedback from parents who were concerned about fairness and the impact on class sizes in their schools due to out-of-district placements.

How many out-of-district transfers are there every year?
In the 2015-2016 school year, there were more than 3,000 out-of-district transfers in Frederick County. That’s enough to fill a typical feeder pattern – a high school, middle school, and several elementary schools.

How do out-of-district transfers affect the issue of overcrowding in schools?
Demographic growth in Frederick County has put a strain on many of our schools. Many schools are over-capacity while others are under-utilized. The large number of out-of-district transfers in FCPS complicates the demographic challenges our schools already face. Out-of-district transfers can further inflate enrollment at already crowded schools and drive up class sizes in individual grade levels within schools. Finally, as FCPS is approaching redistricting for the new Butterfly Ridge Elementary School, it’s important to remember that the number of out-of-district placements can have a significant impact on redistricting options.

Why is FCPS changing the procedures for out-of-district transfers?
It’s been several years since FCPS regulations on out-of-district transfers were comprehensively reviewed and updated. This means that our current procedures aren’t necessarily serving our students or their families as well as they should. We regularly examine potentially outdated procedures to find ways to make them easier to understand and easier to navigate. It’s also important for FCPS to update regulations to improve processes so that our staff is working as efficiently and transparently as possible.

So what was specifically wrong with the old procedures for out-of-district transfers?
FCPS found that the old procedures lacked a way for parents and administrators to regularly track and review how well out-of-district transfers were working for students. This meant that once a student received an out-of-district transfer, they often moved through their school years without a review by parents, teachers, and administrators of how well their transfer was serving them and meeting their changing needs. Accordingly, FCPS is clarifying, modernizing, and streamlining its procedures on out-of-district transfers.

How do families apply for an out-of-district transfer?
The application is available online. The Department of Student Services will accept out-of-district applications from April 1 to May 31 of the school year preceding the request. Exceptions may be granted for extenuating circumstances.

If an out-of-district application has been approved for a student, do parents need to apply again for an out-of-district transfer every year?
Yes, applications for out-of-district transfers need to be submitted every year for annual review. FCPS approves applications on a year-to-year basis. This better serves students because it allows students, parents, teachers, and administrators to talk about the needs of every student and review every student’s individual circumstances; it also allows FCPS to more effectively track and manage out-of-district transfers.

What’s the deadline for a renewal?
A student granted an out-of-district transfer must reapply on or before May 1 prior to each new school year. The Department of Student Services, in consultation with the school principal, will make a determination regarding the request and inform the parent of the decision by June 1.

What documentation is needed to support an out-of-district transfer application?
Documentation will be required to support out-of-district transfer requests based on childcare needs and a student’s medical and/or therapeutic needs.

Can families apply for out-of-district transfers to any FCPS school?
As in the past, transfers from out-of-district students are prohibited at some schools. Each year, FCPS publishes a list of schools projected to reach or exceed capacity when the next school year begins in September. Schools where enrollment is projected to reach or exceed 100% capacity restrict their enrollment only to students who live in the school attendance area.

Are there any other restrictions on out-of-district transfers?
Students who apply for an out-of-district transfer must have demonstrated compliance with school rules and regulations in their current school. If a student has academic, behavioral, or emotional needs, FCPS wants to address those needs in a student’s local school whenever possible.

Are there any exceptions to the rules set out in the new procedures?
FCPS staff knows that every student has individual needs. The Department of Student Services will individually review every application for out-of-district transfers. The new procedures for out-of-district transfers allow for conditional approval for students (to respond to extenuating circumstances). This better serves students because it provides added flexibility and acknowledges the individual needs of every student and family.

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