State Board of Education Approves the Transfer of a Home from Columbus City Schools to Westerville City Schools

April 4, 2016
Legal Update

Recently, the State Board of Education of Ohio unanimously voted to transfer a house from the Columbus City School District to the Westerville City School District, pursuant to Revised Code section 3311.24. Ohio law requires the district in which the territory is located to pass a resolution within thirty days of the State Board approving the transfer, and the Columbus Board of Education recently adopted a resolution transferring the property to the Westerville School District despite its dissatisfaction with the State Board’s decision.


The Kinlins originally submitted a petition to the Columbus City School District, requesting the transfer because they felt Westerville schools could provide a higher quality education to their son and the son’s friends.

Ohio law requires petitions to include signatures from 75% of the qualified electors residing within the territory proposed for transfer, which in this case was only the Kinlins. The Columbus City School District was subsequently required to file a proposal for the transfer of territory with the State Board of Education, regardless of its position on the transfer, and submit required documentation. Westerville City School District refused to participate in the territory transfer process, choosing not to submit responses to the Department of Education’s inquiries and prompting the State Board to pass a resolution declaring its intention to consider the request for transfer of territory and provide an opportunity for hearing.

The factors considered by the State Board

In making its determination, the State Board reviewed the hearing officer’s report and considered the factors outlined in Ohio Administrative Code section 3301-89-02 and 3301-89-03. Among the factors it considered, the Board specifically noted that:

Philosophical shift in policy?

After considering all of the statutory factors and the well-being of the student involved, the State Board rejected the hearing officer’s recommendation to deny a transfer, finding instead that the evidence supported a transfer of territory. The State Board also rejected the Columbus School Board’s original argument that the Win-Win agreement, which allows families living in areas that are annexed by Columbus to remain in their home school district, did not contemplate these types of transfers. The State Board concluded that the Win-Win agreement was inapplicable to petitions filed under Section 3311.24 of the Revised Code.

In the aftermath of this vote, state board members expressed differences of opinion regarding the significance of the transfer. One board member stated the vote represented a “philosophical shift” of the board towards allowing residents to switch districts, while the president of the board disagreed, stating that approving a transfer of territory from one district to another is still determined on a case-by-case basis, permitted only when appropriate. 

Although the Board approved the transfer and the Columbus School Board passed the resolution, Ohio law still permits the receiving district to reject the request and prevent the transfer according to Ohio law, which Westerville did through a board resolution passed in February 2016.

What you need to know

For more information, please contact Phil Hartmann, Michelle Harrison, Yaz Ashrawi or any other attorney in Frost Brown Todd’s Government Services Practice Group.