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AGO 1956 No. 204 - February 17, 1956
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

SCHOOLS, LEGALITY OF STUDENT'S ATTENDING OUTSIDE OWN DISTRICT. 

RCW 28.58.230 does not prohibit free choice of a student in attending any high school in the State.  Said statute applies to schools offering secondary education.

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                                                               February 17, 1956 

Honorable Paul A. Klasen, Jr.
Prosecuting Attorney
Grant County
Ephrata, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 204

 Dear Sir:

             By your letter of December 19, 1955, previously acknowledged, you asked our opinion on the following questions:

             1. Does RCW 28.58.230 prohibit the free choice of a student in attending any high school in the state?

             2. Is a student under an obligation to attend the school in the district in which he resides?

            3. Does RCW 28.58.230 apply to junior high schools?

             In our opinion question 1 must be answered in the negative.  Question 2 must also be answered in the negative, provided the student is accepted by another high school district.  Question 3 must be answered in the affirmative as is further explained in the following analysis.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

             RCW 28.58.230 is a statute placing a mandatory duty upon a high school district to admit all persons presenting themselves for admission who meet the  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] requirements of that statute.  The statutory language is as follows:

             "Every high school in a high school district shall admit all persons of school age who are residents of this state, and not residents of another high school district carrying the grades for which they desire to enroll, upon presentation of satisfactory evidence of having completed in a creditable manner the state eighth grade course of study as prescribed by the state board of education."

             A careful reading of this section clearly shows that it in no way prohibits any student from attending any high school in the state.  The section merely places a mandatory duty on every high school to accept those students not residents of another high school district and possessing the statutory qualifications.

             RCW 28.58.240 is the statute dealing with the power of school directors to admit students from outside their district.  In part it has been derived from chapter 44, Laws of 1921.  As the reviser has made major alterations in the relevant language, we suggest that reference be made to the original session law.

             Chapter 44, Laws of 1921, allows school districts, at their discretion, to admit children from other districts, provided that if the children come from nonadjoining districts, they may be charged a reasonable tuition.

             In view of the two foregoing statutes, we conclude that a student may attend any school which will accept him.  If the school is in a district not adjoining that in which he resides, he may be required to pay a reasonable tuition.  It should be noted, however, that if no other district will accept the student, and he is under the age of 15 (or in certain cases 16), he may be required to attend in his own district under the 1909 compulsory attendance act, codified as RCW 28.27.010.  The language of this act might suggest that those students under the age of 15, or 16, would in all cases be required to attend in the district in which they reside; however, RCW 28.58.240, being a 1921 act, would impliedly repeal any conflicting provision in the earlier enactment.

              [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Although RCW 28.58.230 does not make explicit provision for junior high schools, its language relates to the admission to a high school upon completion of a required 8th grade course of study.  Therefore, this statute must be held to apply to any school offering ninth, tenth, eleventh, or twelfth grade secondary education.

             We trust that this opinion has answered your questions and will be of assistance to you.

 Very truly yours,
DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General

DON MILES
Assistant Attorney General

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