In the past, Cleveland students were automatically enrolled in their neighborhood school. During the era of desegregation busing, many white families left the public school district for private schools or fled the city for the suburbs.

In the 1990s, more Cleveland students left the district to attend private and charter schools using public funds.

For the 35,000 students left in the district, picking a school has changed. Now, students and their caregivers select a school using an online portal.

About two-thirds of CMSD students attended a school in a different ZIP code than where they lived, according to data the district shared with Signal Cleveland that reflected enrollment for a single day in November 2022. Many students attended more than one school during the year. More than three-quarters of high school students went to a school in ZIP code different from where they lived. Those students had to get to school on their own — either taken by their families, friends or public transportation.

Signal background

Choosing a Cleveland school (Explainer)

For a decade, Cleveland has been an open enrollment school district. Parents, caregivers and students can choose which school they want to attend within the district. CMSD uses an online portal where families select their top choices for elementary or high schools. 

K-12 Education Reporter (he/him)
Paul, a former City Year Cleveland AmeriCorps member based in a charter school, covered K-12 education for Signal Cleveland until August, 2023. Paul joined us from Cleveland Documenters, where he focused on creating infographics and civic tech to make public information more accessible. Paul is also a musician, photographer and graphic designer.