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Determining Residency

Whoever is registering a student under the age of 18 must demonstrate that the student lives in the district and is domiciled there.  The domicile of the student shall be that of the student’s parent, military guardian pursuant to a military guardianship, or court-appointed legal guardian.

  • A district may request proof of residency from the registrant, which may be verified by the following:
  • A signed statement or affidavit relating to residency;
  • Lease or rent receipts; or
  • A copy of an occupancy permit where appropriate.
  • A person registering a child who resides in the district but who is not living with a parent, military guardian, or court-appointed legal guardian, may request a waiver of proof of residency at the time of registration. A school district should not require a court-ordered guardianship before enrolling a child who is not living with a parent.

How old must a student be to establish residency on his/her own?

Under Missouri law, a person reaches majority at the age of 18.  A student who is 18 or older may legally establish residence and become domiciled in any district within the state.  A student under the age of 18 may be able to establish residency independent of his/her parents if the student can prove that he/she does not rely on them for financial support. 

Is a power of attorney, by itself, an acceptable measure of residency?

A power of attorney only confers the authority to act on behalf of a student; it does not confer or establish residency.

A 17-year-old living with her boyfriend’s family in the district wants to register. His parents aren’t her legal guardians and her parents do not reside in the district. Must she be registered?

  • The law presumes a student who is physically present in the district is a resident until proven otherwise.  She should be allowed to request a proof of residency waiver so that the board may then determine whether she is a resident under the hardship or good cause standard. She may also be eligible to enroll if she qualifies under anexemption to the residency requirement.  Until the board renders its decision she should be allowed to attend school unless the superintendent determines her presence poses an immediate danger or she is otherwise ineligible to enroll pursuant to section 167.171, RSMo.
  • The Safe Schools Act grants schools the authority not to enroll students in a regular program of instruction who have been charged with or convicted of specific felonies enumerated in the law.  School officials must also be aware of the law as it applies to students with disabilities.   See subsection 2 in section 167.020 and subsection 3 and 4 in section 167.171, RSMo.

May a district allow nonresident employees’ children to attend and be counted as resident students?

  • A school district may allow the children of nonresident teachers and regular employees to attend and be counted as resident students for purposes of receiving state aid.  A teacher may not be charged tuition in the district where the teacher’s child attends school. (An exception exists in subsection 5 in section 167.151, RSMo. that allows Lee's Summit School District to charge its nonresident teachers and regular employees tuition.) 
  • School districts have the option of allowing the children of nonresident regular support staff to attend without having to pay tuition.
  • Once the nonresident teacher or regular employee is no longer employed with the district, the student is no longer eligible to be counted as a resident student.

Proof of Residency Waiver

  • A student residing in the district who is not living with a parent, military guardian, or court-appointed legal guardian may request a proof of residency waiver at the time of registration.
  • The school board has 45 days from the time of the request to hold a hearing for the purpose of determining whether the student is eligible to waive proof of residency on the basis of hardship or good cause. 

Who determines the standard of hardship or good cause?

  • It is up to local school boards to set the standard for review.  Missouri’s residency law refers to "athletic ability" as the only unacceptable reason for granting a waiver. Likewise, federal law would bar acceptance or rejection based upon race, creed, religion, national origin, gender or disability.
  • In Horton v. Marshall Public Schools the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit of which Missouri is a part, held that an Arkansas law requiring school districts to enroll only those students who were domiciled in the district with a parent or legal guardian, violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the Constitution.  The Court recognized that there are situations where a child, living with someone other than a parent or court-appointed guardian, is eligible to enroll in the local public school. If that child is living in the district for reasons other than attending that particular school district, then the child has the right to enroll as a resident student of the district and to be counted for state aid.
  • Any denial of services must be based upon specific statutory authority such as167.171 of the Safe Schools Act, which indicates that a child convicted of one of the enumerated felonies in that section may not be readmitted or enrolled to a regular program of instruction.  See subsection 2 in section 167.020 and section 167.171, RSMo and Horton v. Marshall Public Schools, 769 F.2d 1323 (8th Cir. 1985).

Is the student allowed to register and attend school within the 45 day period the board has to act on the proof of residency waiver?

  • The student must be allowed to register and attend classes until the board makes it’s determination to either accept or reject the requested proof of residency waiver.
  • If the district has information that the student's presence will create an immediate danger, the superintendent or the superintendent’s designee may prevent the student from registering after convening a hearing on the matter. The hearing must take place within three days of the request to register. 

What happens if no action is taken by the board within 45 days from the time of the waiver request?

The student enrolls as a resident student.

What recourse does the student have if the board rejects the proof of residency waiver?

The student or someone acting on the student’s behalf may appeal the board’s decision to the circuit court in the county in which the school district is located.