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AGLO 1975 No. 81 - September 22, 1975
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

DISTRICTS ‑- SCHOOLS ‑- ATTENDANCE OF NONRESIDENT STUDENTS

In order for attendance credit to be allowed to a school district for the attendance of a student under the age of 21 years who resides in another district, as provided for by § 2, chapter 66, Laws of 1975, 1st Ex. Sess., an agreement between the two school districts must first have been made in accordance with RCW 28A.58.240.

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                                                              September 22, 1975

Honorable Paul Klasen
Prosecuting Attorney
Grant County Court House
Ephrata, Washington 98823                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1975 No. 81

Dear Sir:

            By recent letter you have requested our opinion on a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            In order for attendance credit to be allowed to a school district for the attendance of a student under the age of 21 years who resides in another district, as provided for by § 2, chapter 66, Laws of 1975, 1st Ex. Sess., must an agreement between the two school districts first have been made in accordance with RCW 28A.58.240?

            We answer this question in the affirmative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            As explained in some detail in our opinion of October 3, 1972, to the Pierce county prosecuting attorney [[to Ronald L. Hendry, Prosecuting Attorney, Pierce County an Informal Opinion, AIR-72575]], a copy of which is enclosed, the governing statute with respect to transfers by students from the school districts in which they reside to other districts offering the same grades is RCW 28A.58.240 which reads as follows:

            "Any board of directors may make agreements with adults wishing to attend school or with the directors of other districts for the attendance of children in the school district of either as may be best accommodated therein:  Provided, That unless such arrangements are approved by the state superintendent of public instruction, a reasonable tuition charge, fixed by the state superintendent of public instruction, shall be paid by such students.  All tuition money must be paid over to the county treasurer within thirty days of its collection for the credit of the district in which such students attend.

            "Reimbursement of a high school district for cost of educating high school pupils of  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] a nonhigh school district shall not be deemed a tuition charge as affecting the apportionment of current state school funds."

            Based upon this statute we concluded, in the foregoing 1972 opinion, that a student may transfer to another school district even though the same grades are offered in the district in which the student resides,

            ". . . but only if the boards of directors of the school district in which the student resides and of the district to which the student wishes to transfer mutually agree to the transfer and further agree that the transferring student will best be accommodated in the receiving district. . . ."

            In addition, giving effect to the proviso contained in RCW 28A.58.240, we further concluded that:

            ". . . unless the board of directors of the resident school district and the receiving school district make arrangements in lieu of tuition which are approved by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the transferring student must pay to the receiving school district a reasonable tuition charge as set by the state superintendent."

            Chapter 66, Laws of 1975, 1st Ex. Sess., to which you have referred in your letter, contains three substantive sections.  The first of these sections establishes an appeal procedure involving the state board of education for the purpose of allowing a student to obtain an administrative review of any denial of his request for a transfer by the school district in which he resides.  This section also goes on to provide for a superior court appeal, pursuant to the state administrative procedures act, of the decision of the state board of education with respect to the matter.

            Section 2 of chapter 66, supra, then deals with the related question of attendance credit.  This section, which constitutes a new section of chapter 28A.48 RCW relating to the apportionment of state funds to school districts, reads as follows:

            "If a student under the age of twenty-one years is allowed to enroll in any common school outside the school district within which the student resides or a school district of which the student is considered to be a resident for attendance purposes  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] by operation of law, the student's attendance shall be credited to the nonresident school district of enrollment for state apportionment and all other purposes."

            Finally, § 3 of this 1975 act correlatively repeals two prior sections of this chapter of the education code, RCW 28A.48.040 and 28A.48.050, both of which, likewise, covered the subject of attendance credits for nonresident student attendance.

            Your question, in most basic terms, is whether the word "allowed" in § 2,supra, denotes the prior consummation of an agreement between the affected school districts under RCW 28A.58.240, supra. In our opinion, it clearly does.

            Read in context, with particular reference to the accompanying repeals of RCW 28A.48.040 and 28A.48.050, it seems clear to us that § 2 of chapter 66,supra, wasnot intended by the legislature to sanction some other form of permissive attendance within a given school district by a student who is a resident of another district.  Instead, all that this new section was designed to do was to modify the accompanying attendance credit criteria in such cases.

            Accordingly, we answer your question, as above paraphrased, in the affirmative.  In essence, the procedures to be followed in order to permit a student residing within one school district to attend school in another district which offers the same grades are still the same as they were three years ago when we issued our opinion of October 3, 1972, to the Pierce county prosecuting attorney, as above summarized.

            It is hoped that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

SLADE GORTON
Attorney General

PHILIP H. AUSTIN
Deputy Attorney General

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