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January 15, 1970
Honorable Sam C. Guess
State Senator, Sixth District
Olympia, Washington 98501
Cite as: AGLO 1970 No. 5
This is written in response to your recent letter requesting our opinion on three questions pertaining to the rights of public school age children to attend a public school located in a school district other than that in which they reside.
The first of your questions which we shall consider asks, simply:
"What is the law concerning school attendance in another school district?"
Within the context of your request (i.e., the right of a child to attend a school in a district other than that in which he resides), the law on this subject is contained in RCW 28.58.230 and 28.58.240. As amended by § 3, chapter 130, Laws of 1969, the first of these two statutes reads as follows:
"Every ((high school in the high)) school district shall admit on a tuition free basis all persons of school age who reside within ((are residents of)) this state ((,)) and ((not residents of)) do not reside within another ((high)) school district, carrying the grades for which they ((desire)) are eligible 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)): PROVIDED, That nothing in this ((act)) section shall be construed as ((effecting)) affecting RCW 28.44.040, ((RCW)) 28.58.240, or section 5 of this 1969 amendatory act."
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
The second statute, RCW 28.58.240, was also amended by this 1969 act ‑ specifically by § 4 thereof ‑ as follows:
"Any board of directors may make arrangements with adults wishing to attend school or with the directors of ((adjoining)) other districts for the attendance of children in the school district of either as may be best accommodated therein; ((in absence of an express)): PROVIDED, That unless such arrangements ((therefor)) 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. ((Children from nonadjoining districts may also be permitted to attend upon payment of a reasonable tuition.)) 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 a nonhigh school district shall not be deemed a tuition charge as affecting the apportionment of current state school funds."
These two statutes will remain in effect until July 1, 1970, when they will be replaced by the provisions of §§ 9 and 10 of chapter 130, Laws of 1969, as a part of the comprehensive new state education code.1/ However, significantly, the language of these two new code sections is, in all respects, identical to the amended versions of RCW 28.58.230 and 28.58.240, as set forth above.
These two statutes provide the answers to your remaining two questions, which we shall now proceed to consider.
Query: Can school age children residing in one school district go to school in an adjoining school district without the approval of the school boards of the two school districts involved, provided that they pay tuition?
[[Orig. Op. Page 3]]
Answer: If the situation comes within the purview of RCW 28.58.230, supra, as amended by § 3, chapter 130, Laws of 1969, neither the approval of the respective school boards nor the payment of tuition is required as a condition to the admission of a school age child to a public school located in a district other than that in which he resides; however, this statute only applies when the district in which the individual resides does not carry the grades for which he is eligible to enroll.
In all other cases, the attendance of a school age child in a public school located in a district other than that in which he resides must be covered by "arrangements" which have been made between the respective school boards, as provided for in RCW 28.58.240, supra, as amended. Pursuant to this statute, tuition is to be charged unless such "arrangements" are approved by the superintendent of public instruction.
Query: Must two school districts be adjacent to each other in order to be authorized to enter into "arrangements" such as are contemplated by RCW 28.58.240, supra, as amended?
Answer: This question is clearly answerable in the negative, for you will note upon reading the provisions of § 4, chapter 130, Laws of 1969, supra, amending RCW 28.58.240, that the word "adjoining" which was previously in this statute has been eliminated. Accordingly, under the statute as it now reads, any two school districts in this state may utilize the authority granted therein; however, consistent with our answer to your previous question, even the payment of tuition does not entitle a nonresident school age child to attend the schools in a particular district unless arrangements therefor have been made between both of the districts involved.
It is hoped that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
PHILIP H. AUSTIN
Assistant Attorney General
*** FOOTNOTES ***
1/See, § 13, chapter 130, Laws of 1969, for further explanation of this point.