Enrolling and Registering English Learners

Schools and districts can take proactive steps to minimize cultural and linguistic barriers faced by English learners during the school enrollment process. The following information emphasizes the importance of engaging families by providing access to enrollment and clarity regarding proof of residency. 


Schools and districts should make enrollment accessible to non-English speaking families and take proactive steps to ensure meaningful communication during the registration process. Schools should ensure that written registration procedures are available in multiple languages and with oral interpretation supports for families with limited English proficiency. For example, Mason City Schools provide a dedicated webpage that includes a translation app to explain the current mail-in registration processes. The Akron Public Schools maintain a page of registration instructions translated in languages commonly spoken by families. 

All schools should maintain a list of interpreters who are able to provide spoken language supports in languages of families with limited English proficiency. To facilitate this, some schools, such as the Cincinnati  Academy of World Languages, publish an online form  where families can request interpreters to communicate with educators. Communication preferences and experiences in different linguistic and cultural environments are documented for instructional and program administration uses on Ohio’s language usage survey. 

Evidence of Residency 

In providing proof of residency, federal law (McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 11301 et seq.) affirms that homeless and national origin minority students, including those with limited English proficiency, may not be delayed or prevented from accessing education services due to difficulties in providing proof of residency. Schools should provide families with options to show evidence of residency in the school district. The following documents may be accepted for online or face-to-face school registration as proof of residence: 

  • Telephone or utility bill, 
  • Mortgage or lease document, 
  • Parent affidavit, 
  • Rent payment receipts, 
  • ​Copy of a money order made for payment of rent, or 
  • Letter from a parent’s employer written on company letterhead. 

Empower Families with Information

School districts with effective family engagement practices take proactive steps to inform families of their educational rights and responsibilities. For example, to orient newcomer families to the local education system and its processes, districts such as North Olmsted City connect families with community members who speak the same language and offer multilingual orientations. The Ohio Department of Education granted CARES funding to Educational Services Centers (ESCs) to hire a Family and Community Partnership Liaison to meet the needs of vulnerable youth and families disproportionately impacted by COVID –19.  The ESC Family and Community Partnership Liaisons can assist in connecting districts with resources, community organizations and other supports for English learners. To learn more about the ESC Family and Community Partnership Liaisons, visit the Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center webpage

Resources are published by organizations such as Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE), which has published useful materials for parents including, Know Your Rights about Education during the Pandemic videos spoken in Spanish and Arabic. Planned supports, offered at the point of enrollment, pave the way for parent engagement and collaboration. 

Last Modified: 8/21/2023 4:22:45 PM