The embedded guidance is intended to provide clarification to districts in regards to procedures and policies related to the enrollment of perceived or actual international students.
Foreign Exchange Students
A foreign exchange student arrives at a district through a pre-arranged or approved process. The student will study for a specified period of time in the host district. Currently, no state Board policy specifies or defines the regulations for serving exchange students. The decision for a school to participate in a foreign exchange program is allocated to the local district level. As the quality of programs varies, districts choosing to participate in programs are recommended to utilize those that have been vetted through the non-profit accreditation agency, Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) http://www.csiet.org/. CSIET monitors exchange agency practices and produces an annual list of approved agencies.
The U.S. Department of State has issued guidance that describes the limitations and requirements related to F-1 exchange students attending public schools. Included in the guidance is the reference to the obligation of an F-1 student to provide tuition reimbursement or proof that reimbursement has occurred. Regulations for F-1 exchange students can be accessed at the U.S. Department of State Visa site.
While most foreign exchange students are anticipated to have advanced levels of English proficiency, the possibility exists for some students to benefit from Title III ESL services. The linked memo clarifies the process for assessing and providing for the linguistic needs of foreign exchange students.
The period of study in a public school for an exchange student is defined by the Visa and the scope of the exchange program. Local districts should consider this information when developing policies related to the awarding of diplomas or certificates of attendance.
The United States Department of Justice and the United States Department of Education clarify that the obligation to provide all children with equal access to public education is not contingent upon the actual or perceived citizenship or immigration status of a student or their family. The May 8, 2014 Dear Colleague letter cautions districts from engaging in enrollment practices that may chill or discourage enrollment.
As part of the state enrollment process, a copy of a student’s birth certificate is required. The referenced Superintendent Interpretation clarifies how this process can be conducted for students not presenting a U.S. birth certificate.
In keeping the spirit of the Dear Colleague letter districts should be mindful not to present actual or perceived international students with additional enrollment procedures that would not be requested from any other student. As with all students, districts should proceed with normal enrollment procedures.