How to Enroll Your Child in a Local Public School

If you have recently moved to a new area or your child is about to be old enough to enter the public school system, you must go through an enrollment process in order for him or her to become a registered student. The United States Department of Education and other government agencies regulate several of the policies relating to public school enrollment across the United States. However, each school district may also have its own enrollment. Below is a list of the standard information and documentation you will need in order to successfully enroll your child in a Pennsylvania public school.

All Children Can Enroll in Public School in the United States

Federal law dictates that your child can enroll in public school in the United States as long as both you and the child are living in the United States. He or she must be living with you or with a legal guardian. Your child is also entitled to enroll in public school regardless of his or her immigration or citizenship status of or that of his or her family. A school system will be in direct violation of the law if its administrators discriminate against you and your child due to immigration status, race, religion or any attributes relating to nationality or ethnicity.

Where to Enroll Your Child in Public School

You must typically enroll your child in the school district where you reside. Your address usually determines the exact school in which you can enroll your child. However, you may be able to choose a school based on academic and other records, which you can request from school administrators or other town offices that have access to these records. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, your child may also be eligible for enrollment in another school district if the district in which you live is deemed to have sub-standard schooling options.

Who can enroll your child in public school?

Your child cannot self-enroll in public school, even if he or she is old enough to understand and participate in the enrollment process. He or she also cannot be enrolled in public school by a family friend or other unrelated party. You or your spouse must enroll your child in public school, unless guardianship has been assigned to someone else, such as a grandparent. In such a case, the school administrators will request to meet with the legal guardian to finalize the enrollment process.

Meeting Public School Immunization Requirements for Your Child

All public schools have immunization requirements which your child must meet before enrollment. You may request a list of those requirements from the administration department of your child’s new school. Upon receiving the immunization requirement list, you must gather documentation proving your child has had the required immunizations or schedule the required immunization appointments as quickly as possible.

It is possible for your child to be exempt from certain immunization requirements for medical reasons. However, in such an instance you must submit a signed document from the child’s doctor explaining the reason for the medical exemption. If you do not want your child to have certain immunizations due to moral or religious beliefs, then you may be able to request an exemption, as well. However, some schools will not allow moral exemptions.

Documents Your Child’s School May Request to Finalize Enrollment

When enrolling your child in school, you must provide proof of his or her age. However, a United States birth certificate is not required. Most schools will accept your child’s previous school records, a hospital certificate or a signed affidavit from you as proof of the age of the child. Other possible documents which may be accepted as proof of the child’s age include religious documents and foreign birth certificates.

In addition to proof of age, you may also be required to provide proof of residency to your child’s new school in order to enroll him or her as a student. Possible acceptable forms of proof of residency include recent utility bills, signed affidavits, lease contracts and mortgage documents. However, each school district has its own list of acceptable forms.

Optional Information You May Provide During Your Child’s School Enrollment

There are several additional pieces of information your child’s school may request from you during the enrollment process. Among those pieces of information are your social security number, a copy of your driver’s license or identification card and your child’s social security number. However, the school cannot legally require you to provide any of those pieces of information. Therefore, if you or your child are not legal U.S. citizens and do not have such information, your child can still enroll in school.

Your child also cannot be denied enrollment in school due to his or her ethnicity. However, school districts must often report ethnic data to state and federal agencies. Therefore, your chosen school’s administration department is likely to request ethnic data from you. If you voluntarily provide the requested ethnic data, it will be used for informational purposes only and cannot be used to discriminate against your child in any way or ban him or her from public school enrollment.