Intradistrict School Choice Policy

  • Implementation delayed as part of a February 4, 2020 board vote. 

    The Tuscaloosa City Board of Education recognizes that resident students may wish to attend a school outside of their assigned attendance area.

    Therefore, each student shall initially be assigned to a school in the attendance area in which he or she resides, but shall have the option of attending another school in the District, where there is available space and staff, in accordance with the guidelines established in this policy.

    Students are guaranteed a spot in their residential zone. Enrollment in specialized schools (Magnet, International Baccalaureate, etc.) is done through established procedures not within the Intradistrict School Choice policy.

    This policy supersedes and replaces all pre-existing policies, practices, and procedures that are inconsistent with the terms of this policy, in whole or in part, including but not limited to those addressing school choice.

    Students Eligible to Apply

    Students in grades K-12 in all Tuscaloosa City Schools are eligible for school choice.

    Children of parents/guardians who live in the Tuscaloosa City School District who are not currently attending a Tuscaloosa City School are eligible to apply; however, verification of residence must be provided along with the transfer application.

    Any request from the parent/guardian of a special education student to attend a school outside their residence attendance zone shall be considered in accordance with applicable state and federal laws. The student’s current Individualized Education Plan (IEP) shall be used to determine if the requested school can meet the student’s needs.

    Available Space 

    The available space for each school is determined by subtracting its “current enrollment” from its “optimal capacity.”

    The optimal capacity is 90%of each building’s “maximum capacity.”

    The maximum capacity is the number of students the school can serve, utilizing all available space, as part of the defined instructional program. This number will be determined by the Superintendent and Board of Education for each school

    The current enrollment is the number of current/future residentially zoned students plus the current approved choice/specialty program students for each school.

    For example, School A serves grades 9-12 and has a “maximum capacity” of 1,200 students. Therefore, its “optimal capacity” is 1,080 (1,200 x 90%).

    There are 600 current residentially zoned students in grades 9-11 enrolled for the following year along with 200 future residentially zoned students in grade 8. There are 100 students in the performing arts specialty program and 70 currently enrolled school choice students that will return. This leaves 50 spaces available for intradistrict school choice.

    1,080       Optimal Capacity

    -600       Current Residential Zone

    -100       Performing Arts Specialty Program

     - 70      Current Choice Students

                   110       Available Space


    The “available space” for each school will be published annually as part of the application process.


    Application Process

    • A student living in one attendance area who wishes to attend another school in the District shall file a written application for transfer in January of each year.
    • Applications may be submitted online on the Board’s website. Paper copies will be made available at each school and the Central Office and may be submitted at any of these locations. The available space at each school will be posted in the application materials. Notice of the application process will be communicated annually.
    • Applicants will have the option of selecting up to three (3) transfer options, in ranked order of preference. 

    Selection Process

    All applications received prior to the established deadline will be considered under this policy. In the event that the number of applications exceeds available seats for the school, the district will conduct a random lottery. The system will prioritize placement based on parent/guardian ranked choices.

    Children of staff employed at the school will be accepted based on Board policy and are not required to apply for a transfer utilizing the intradistrict school choice policy.

    Once the selection process is complete, parents/guardians will receive notice as to whether their application has been approved or denied. The notice will set a deadline by which parents/guardians must accept or decline any approved transfer request. Should the parents/guardians deny their transfer option, or not respond by the published deadline, the next eligible applicant on the list will be offered their slot.

    The selection process will be conducted by the Office of General Administration.


    Transportation will be offered for intradistrict school choice transfers on a limited basis, using neighborhood/zoned stops.

    Neighborhood/zoned stops will be determined annually by the Transportation Department. Parents/guardians are responsible for getting students to and from the neighborhood/zoned stops.

    Enrollment and Re-Application

    Students who are approved and accept placement at their choice school must remain at the school for the entire school year. A student who changes legal residence from one attendance zone to another may choose to remain at the choice school for the remainder of the current school year or may transfer to the new attendance zone school immediately.

    Students accepted to a school under this policy are eligible to remain at the school until the terminal grade without re-application. Notification of intent to remain must be submitted.

    Once students reach the terminal grade of their choice school (5th grade for elementary and 8th grade for high school) they must reapply for the next grade level in accordance with this policy if they wish to attend a school outside of their assigned attendance zone. 


    Students granted permission to attend a school other than the school in their assigned attendance area shall have the same curricular and extracurricular status as all other students attending the school, limited only by the rules of the Alabama High School Athletic Association.


    The Board, the Superintendent, other administrators, and district employees shall not discriminate based on a student’s race, color, ancestry, creed, sex, gender, religion, national origin, marital status, disability, or need for special education services, in the determination or recommendation for action under this policy.