Background of Public School Choice in Michigan

Public school options have been available to Michigan parents for more than two decades. The state enacted charter school legislation in 1993, while the Schools of Choice program was adopted in 1996.[3] Charter schools are state-funded public schools that are governed by independent boards and operate according to the terms of a performance contract overseen by an authorizing body, often a public university. They are subject to nearly all the same requirements and regulations as other public schools.[4]

Schools of Choice enables state funding to “follow” a student enrolling in a school operated by a district other than the one where the student resides. School districts set local policies that determine whether they will participate in receiving students through Schools of Choice and can limit how many students they will enroll. Choices are limited to districts within the boundaries of the intermediate school districts that are contiguous with a student’s “home” intermediate school district.[5] There are two types of Schools of Choice encoded in law:

  • “105 Choice:” refers to students who attend a nonresident school district but still within their resident intermediate school district.[6]

  • “105c Choice:” refers to students who have transferred to a conventional public school in a different, neighboring intermediate school district.[7]

Additionally, some ISDs oversee ongoing agreements that enable all families within the ISD boundaries to exercise choice among the constituent districts using a common application and enrollment process. Nearly all districts within these ISDs enroll nonresident students, though they maintain the right to opt out.[8]