The statutory provisions covering the procedures for transferring a parcel of property from one school district to another contiguous school district are found in the Revised School Code, MCL 380.951 et seq.; MCL 380.612; and MCL 388.1010(b).
Action to seek a transfer of property from one school district to another school district may be initiated by several different means. The most frequently used method, is when a resident property owner (or group of resident property owners) files a petition with an intermediate school district requesting that the property be detached from one school district and attached to another. Another method is initiated by a local board of education or a board of a condominium association filing a resolution with the intermediate school district seeking to have property transferred into or out of the district.
When a petition to transfer property is filed, the terms of the statute clearly limit the right to petition to persons who both own and reside on the land to be transferred. Consequently, nonresident property owners do not meet the legal requirements to file a petition to have property transferred. It is not uncommon, however, for property owned by nonresident owners to be transferred from one school district to another. This occurs when a property transfer petition filed by a resident property owner, or a group of resident property owners, includes property owned by nonresident property owners. Petitions filed by a group of resident property owners are often referred to as block transfers.
Another requirement of the statute governing property transfers concerns the number of signatures of resident property owners needed to have a valid petition. The statute requires that two-thirds of the persons who own and reside on the land to be transferred must sign the petition. Thus, if the property is jointly owned by a husband and wife, both must sign the petition in order to meet the two-thirds requirement. If a petition is filed by a group of resident property owners, at least two-thirds of the resident owners whose property is to be transferred must sign the petition. Given this requirement, it follows that in a block transfer up to one-third of the resident property owners who do not sign the petition also may have their property transferred to another district - even against their will. Property belonging to nonresident property owners also may be included in property transfer petitions, provided the petition is signed by at least two-thirds of the resident property owners.
Contiguity is another statutory requirement that must be met; the territory to be transferred must be contiguous to the school district to which it is to be attached. A parcel belonging to resident owners must be contiguous to the district to which it is attached. In a block transfer petition, the territory to be transferred is considered in its entirety when determining contiguity. The Attorney General has issued opinions on the issue of contiguity: territory which touches only at a corner is contiguous; territory separated by a river or a road is considered contiguous.