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When’s the best time to file a school choice dispute in Michigan?

On Behalf of | Mar 8, 2024 | Family Law

Michigan has very different educational opportunities from one municipality or neighborhood to the next. The system of using residential property tax to fund public schools creates a massive disparity in funding from one community to the next.

Therefore, certain schools have better facilities and more extracurricular activities because of the differences in available funding. Some families seek to sidestep the issues with their local schools by pursuing a school of choice placement. Parents can submit paperwork requesting that their children attend a certain school even if they don’t technically live within the boundaries of that school district.

Someone who recently divorced and moved may use school of choice rules to keep their children at the same school district. When is the best time for parents to address a school of choice matter in Michigan?

Spring requests have the best chance of success

It takes months for individual school districts to prepare for the back-to-school season at the end of summer each year. Ideally, teachers and administrators understand exactly who should attend the school before school starts for the year.

Therefore, parents often find that their requests receive faster processing and that they may have a better chance of succeeding if they take action during the spring. Doing so gives administrators plenty of time to review enrollment figures and determine the availability for school of choice placement.

Those who apply closer to when school starts may find that they don’t receive a timely response. Requests and appeals submitted throughout the school year could also see delays or have lower rates of success because the school has already extended all available space to other applicants.

School enrollment issues can be a very frustrating aspect of shared custody in Michigan. Parents typically share time with the children and also decision-making authority or legal custody. Parents therefore need to agree with one another about what schools their children should attend and which parent lists their address as the primary residence for the children for the purposes of school enrollment.

If one parent wants to make a decision about changing where the children attend school, they may need to go back to court to secure a modification of their custody order first. Once they have the legal authority to make that choice without the support of the other parent, they could file paperwork with the appropriate school district.

Understanding the challenges involved in sharing legal custody, and seeking legal guidance whenever necessary, can help people ensure the best educational opportunities for their children.