California Laws: Residency for Public School Districts
It is important for parents/guardians to know that the laws of the State of California dictate that parent(s)/guardian(s) must be current residents of the public school district they want their children to attend.
A current resident is defined by California law in Gov Code 244 and Ed Code 48200. In plain language, these laws, along with subsequent case law, state that the public school responsible for a student's education is the one in which the parent/guardian primary residence is located. There can only be one primary residence; families with multiple homes must provide documentation that demonstrates they are actually living in the home. Owning a home within Palo Alto does not qualify a student to attend PAUSD schools, unless it can be shown that the student is also living (sleeping) full-time in that home.
Parent(s)/guardian(s) must sign, under penalty of perjury, a PAUSD Residency Declaration document as part of the in-person registration step. By California law, parent(s)/guardians(s) MUST renew this Declaration annually through the Annual Data Update (ADU).
Additionally, once a student is enrolled in a public school, the student can only remain enrolled if the student resides continually within that district’s boundaries. (California law: Ed Code 48201.) Please read the "Moving" page for details. Examples include:
- If the family moves out of Palo Alto for any reason, the student must be dis-enrolled from the PAUSD school and enrolled in the new district of residency.
- If the family and student move to a different address within Palo Alto, parents must complete a Change of Address form within two weeks of moving to a new address.
- Temporary housing, for any reason including home renovation, must be within Palo Alto in order for the student to remain enrolled in PAUSD schools.
Joint Custody Arrangements
Student must physically reside at least 50% of the time, during the regular school year, with at least one parent who resides within the district boundary. If the other household is located outside of PAUSD, both parents must submit a Joint Custody Calendar form and bring relevant court documents to the PAUSD Registration Services office at 25 Churchill.
By California law, PAUSD must annually verify that a student is a current resident which is achieved when a parent completes the Annual Data Update (ADU). If a parent fails to complete the ADU, or if there is reason to believe a student's Palo Alto residency may be in question, investigations may be conducted by the PAUSD Residency Office, allowed under California Law Ed Code 48204.2 and Board Policy 5111.1, to determine authenticity of the home address. When it is determined that a student lives outside the PAUSD boundaries, or that residency documents or declarations have been falsified, the student will be immediately removed from the PAUSD school and the parent/guardian must enroll the student in the district of residence.
Report a Residency Violation
Leave a confidential message for Palo Alto Unified School District's Residency Office regarding a possible residency violation at (650) 329-3955 or submit the form below. Names will be kept anonymous and all tips will be treated as confidential.
Suspected Residency Violation Form
Please contact Registration Services with any questions: RegistrationServices@pausd.org; (650) 329-3707.