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Here’s how to register for public school in Tampa Bay

The requirements are similar in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties. But each district has its own unique process.
Teacher Jen Bryant, top left, works with students in Pinellas County's Rising K summer program, which worked to prepare incoming kindergarten students for the 2021-22 school year, starting Aug. 11.
Teacher Jen Bryant, top left, works with students in Pinellas County's Rising K summer program, which worked to prepare incoming kindergarten students for the 2021-22 school year, starting Aug. 11. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]
Published Jul. 30
Updated Aug. 2

BACK TO SCHOOL 2021 | Click to scroll down for more

Are you moving to Tampa Bay from another area or enrolling in your local public school system for the first time? If registering a child for the 2021-22 academic year is still on your to-do list, below is a county-by-county look at what is required in each of the area’s school districts:

Hillsborough County

Students at Hillsborough High sported new shoes and fashionable outfits on the first day of school in August 2020. The 2021-22 school year starts on Aug. 10 in Hillsborough County.
Students at Hillsborough High sported new shoes and fashionable outfits on the first day of school in August 2020. The 2021-22 school year starts on Aug. 10 in Hillsborough County. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]

When registering, each student must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. The required documents vary depending on where a new student is coming from.

For those those entering a Hillsborough school from another Florida county, the district requires:

  • a report card or a copy of transcript from the last school attended;
  • at least two documents verifying a parent or guardian’s address. This may include a property tax receipt or proof of a homestead exemption; a current electric bill; a contract for purchase of a home; a warranty deed or a lease agreement.
  • proof of the student’s birth date;
  • records showing proof of proper immunization.

For those entering a Hillsborough school from a private school or a public school outside Florida, the district requires:

  • proof of physical examination by a licensed health care provider or the county’s health department within the last 12 months;
  • a report card or transcript from the last school attended;
  • at least two documents verifying a parent or guardian’s address. This may include a property tax receipt or proof of a homestead exemption, a current electric bill, a contract for purchase of a home, a warranty deed or a lease agreement.
  • proof of the student’s birth date from one of the following sources: a birth certificate; a baptismal certificate or Bible record accompanied by parents’ sworn affidavit; an insurance policy on the child that has been in force at least two years; a passport or certificate of arrival in the United States; a school record from at four years ago showing date of birth; or a parent’s sworn affidavit accompanied by a certificate of examination by a health officer or doctor.
  • records showing proof of proper immunization.

The requirements for immunization are based on a child’s grade. For a detailed list of required and recommended immunizations, visit hillsboroughschools.org/immunizations.

The district also reminds parents that its health services department is required under state law to conduct certain health screenings at various times during a child’s time in public schools. The screenings are to identify any problems that might interfere with learning. They are for vision, hearing, scoliosis and body mass index, to measure a child’s development.

All students must live with at least one parent or legal guardian. Guardians will need a copy of the court order appointing guardianship. Under extenuating circumstances, a notarized statement may be accepted if proof of residence can be validated.

All students must attend the school in the district where their parents or guardians live or have a Homeless Affidavit, unless they have changed their assignment through Hillsborough Choice Options.

Any student receiving special education services is encouraged to bring a copy of their most recent Individual Educational Plan, or IEP.

For more information, visit hillsboroughschools.org/enrollment.

Pinellas County

Teacher Jen Bryant, 47, reads with Reagan Waker during a break in class work Thursday, June 24, 2021 in Largo. Seventeen students in the class were taking part in Pinellas County's Rising K summer program, which prepared incoming kindergarten students for the 2021-22 school year.
Teacher Jen Bryant, 47, reads with Reagan Waker during a break in class work Thursday, June 24, 2021 in Largo. Seventeen students in the class were taking part in Pinellas County's Rising K summer program, which prepared incoming kindergarten students for the 2021-22 school year. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]

New students in kindergarten, sixth or ninth grade who enroll in Pinellas County Schools will be assigned to a zoned school. All other new students will be assigned to their zoned school on a space-available basis.

To register for kindergarten, children must be 5 years old on or before Sept. 1, show proof of residency, have Florida Certificate of Immunization, and have a physical examination certificate.

Click here for information on free or low-cost physicals around the county for uninsured residents.

Families can contact their zoned school for a complete listing of the school’s kindergarten open houses and events. For more information on kindergarten, including a video on how to prepare a child for kindergarten, visit pcsb.org/kindergarten.

Here is the process for registering any new student:

First, find your zoned school by using the district’s school zone locator or calling the Student Assignment office at 727-588-6210. The locator can be found at pcsb.org/registration.

Next, reserve a seat by using the Student Reservation System, also found at pcsb.org/registration. Those without computer access can use a computer at any Pinellas public school. You will need a Pinellas County Schools Portal User ID and password.

If you already have a User ID and password for another child, you do not have to obtain new ones. If not, you can get a User ID and password by visiting any Pinellas school and bringing a valid ID such as a driver’s license, passport, military ID or green card.

The final step is to register by visiting your assigned school. You’ll be asked to show the following documents:

  • the child’s birth certificate or other proof of identity and age. Call your assigned school for a list of other documents that can be used to show a birth date.
  • proof of residency in the form of a recent utility bill, rental agreement or lease, a closing document, a Pinellas County tax statement with homestead exemption. You must show any two of these items and they must contain the name and address of the child’s parent or guardian. Those who cannot show two of these items must complete a notarized Affidavit of Residency.
  • the child’s Social Security number, which the school system is required to ask for but students are not required to have one.
  • the child’s most recent report card, if entering grades 1 through 12. If available, the report card should include the school’s address and phone number.
  • a Florida Certificate of Immunization with up-to-date shot records appropriate to the child’s grade level. Click here for details on what shots are required and locations where you can get free immunizations from the county health department.
  • a physical examination certificate signed by a licensed examiner with the last 12 months.
  • a recent Individual Education Plan, known as an IEP, if the student participates in exceptional student education.

More questions? The district’s Student Assignment office at 727-588-6210 can help.

Pasco County

Lockers in a hallway at Wendell Krinn Technical High in Pasco County, which starts the 2021-22 school year on Aug. 10.
Lockers in a hallway at Wendell Krinn Technical High in Pasco County, which starts the 2021-22 school year on Aug. 10. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

Pasco school officials are urging families to “beat the back-to-school rush” by registering their new students as soon as they can before the start of classes. The message applies to families with students entering kindergarten or those in other grades who are just entering, or re-entering, the Pasco school system.

All students must attend the school to which they are assigned based on their home address, unless they have an approved assignment to another school or program, for example through the school choice process.

So for most families the first step is to find out what school your child is zoned for by visiting the district’s school boundaries page at pasco.k12.fl.us/planning/page/boundaries. You can search by entering your address.

Next, it’s time to register by contacting your zoned school for information on hours and days for registration. You will need to bring some documentation, which varies depending on each student’s situation.

For students entering kindergarten or coming into the Pasco system from any school in another state or country, parents or guardians will need:

  • Proof of a parent or guardian’s residence, supported by three types of documents. The first is a deed or property tax assessment record if you are a home owner, or a lease or rental agreement or a notarized letter from a landlord if you are a renter. The second is a current utility bill or an initial order for service from a utility. The third is an auto registration, a Florida driver’s license, a Florida ID card or voter registration card.
  • An original birth certificate or other evidence of age. State law also allows the use of a baptism certificate or other bona fide religious record accompanied by a parent’s sworn affidavit, an insurance policy on the child’s life that has been in force for at least two years, a passport of certificate of arrival in the United States showing the child’s age, a transcript from a school previously attended by the child, or a physician’s affidavit attesting to the child’s age.
  • Evidence of a physical exam of the child from the past year.
  • A State of Florida Immunization Form filled out by a health professional. For detailed information which immunizations are required at different ages, click here.
  • The child’s Social Security number, if available. State law requires the district to ask for a number, but families aren’t required to provide one.
  • If applicable, any documents concerning custody of a child, such as a judgment of divorce or custody order.

The list of required documents is a little different if the student being registered was previously enrolled in Pasco County Schools or in a public or private school in another Florida county. The requirements for residency, immunization and custody documents are the same as above. There is no requirement for a birth record or a new physical exam, and no request for a Social Security number.

For students who live with a guardian, a copy of a court order appointing guardianship must be provided. Under extenuating circumstances, a notarized Affidavit of Residence may be accepted if proof of residence can be validated.

For information on enrolling homeless children in public school, visit the district’s Students In Transition web page.

Also, the district’s online “Back to School/Newcomer Guide” offers information on how to prepare for the first day of school, from bus stops and bell schedules to school meals and dress codes.

Hernando County

Backpacks hang in a fourth-grade class at Suncoast Elementary on the first day of school in Hernando County in 2019. Hernando's first day of school for 2021-22 is Aug. 10. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
Backpacks hang in a fourth-grade class at Suncoast Elementary on the first day of school in Hernando County in 2019. Hernando's first day of school for 2021-22 is Aug. 10. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]

The Hernando County School District directs the families of new students to start by identifying their zoned school at hernandoschools.org/schools/student-registration. Families are asked to complete an online form with their name, email address, street address and whether the student will be in elementary, middle or high school.

After submitting the form, the district will send a return email with the name of the student’s zoned school. At that point, registration is handled through the school. Go to hernandoschools.org, use the drop-down menu to find your child’s zoned school, find the “Information” tab and then drop down again to “Registration.”

New enrollees will be asked to fill out several forms. The first and most important one is a detailed student registration form, which can be completed online.

During the registration process, families will need to supply several documents depending on the student’s situation.

The following is required for new students in all grades who are new to Florida:

  • an official birth certificate.
  • A physical exam completed by a licensed physician dated no later than Aug. 1 of the prior school year.
  • an immunization record. The district’s registration page contains a link with details on what immunizations are required for specific grades.
  • proof of residency, which can be in the form of a rent receipt, a home contract, a utility bill addressed to a parent or guardian, or a notarized statement from the family member with which they reside.
  • a copy of the student’s last report card if the child previously attended school, or the name and phone number of the previous school.

For students transferring to the Hernando district from another school in Florida, fewer documents are required — just the birth certificate, immunization record and proof of residency, as outlined above.

The registration page also includes information on registration and school attendance for students from homeless families.

• • •

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