Edina Public Schools letter warns of disenrollment for distance learning out of district

A letter from the Edina Public Schools superintendent has struck a nerve with parents.

In the recent letter, the superintendent pointed out Minnesota law states that in order to be enrolled, a resident student cannot live outside the district for more than 15 consecutive days for non-COVID related reasons. Doing so, would mean the district would have to drop the student from enrollment and the student would need to open enroll if still living in state or would need to enroll in the place where they are residing.
"The message was confusing because on one hand the district is saying you won’t be able to be in school for most of January," said Bob Schnell, an Edina High School parent. "Then on the other hand, they can’t leave the city at risk of being dropped from enrollment."

Bob Schnell says two of his three children do their distance learning away from home most Fridays just for a change of scenery. The family is considering an extended out-of-state trip, but now plans maybe on hold.

"Mental health for everyone is really important, so if they can have a safe environment to study away from home, I think that really helps," said Schnell.

"It’s completely tone deaf," said Sarah Patzloff, a former Edina School Board member.

She’s analyzed the state statutes surrounding enrollment and residency for school districts and can't understand why this would be a priority for the district or the state. 

"To tell families with kids who are already struggling with mental health issues and say, ‘We will un-enroll you if you go to a northern Minnesota cabin or down to grandparents in Florida,’ to me it’s the least of our concerns right now," said Patzloff.

In response to FOX 9’s inquiry to clarify the letter, a spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Education says students who leave the state can continue to be served under the district’s distance learning plan. That allowance excludes:

  • Families who choose to leave the state for employment, travel, visiting relatives, etc. 
  • Students who were non-public or homeschool familes this school or last year prior to leaving the state. 
  • Students with no intention of returning to Minnesota when it’s safe to do so. 

All three criteria must be met for the students to be eligible to generate state aid. 

Edina Public Schools is working with MDE and expects to have an update for families next week.