Attendance Options & Appeals
Students generally attend the neighborhood school in the school district where their parents live, however parents/guardians may request a transfer to a different school or consider other attendance options.
There are two types of transfers: “intra-district,” which is a transfer to another school within the home district, and “inter-district,” which is to a school in another district. Each district sets its own policy and regulations regarding transfers, so it is important to check with your local district for specific requirements, as well as available grade level openings. There is no guarantee that a request for a transfer will be granted.
The law allows you to apply to enroll your child in any school in your local district. Each district creates attendance boundaries and sets enrollment limits for its schools. Every year, districts determine how many openings each school will have for transfer students. If there are more requests to attend a school than there are openings at that school, the district must use a “random, unbiased” selection process for awarding available openings. Children who live in the school’s attendance area have first priority to attend that school and cannot be displaced by transfer students. The district is not obligated to grant your request, and there is no statutory right to appeal a denial. Parents are responsible for providing transportation for a student on an intra-district transfer.
- Application forms for Intra-District Transfers are available at district offices.
District of Choice Transfers
On October 11, 2009, the Governor signed Senate Bill 680 into law, which provides for the extension of the District of Choice program until 2017. This law allows, but does not require, a school district to become a District of Choice in order to accept transfer students from other districts through a random and unbiased process. By board resolution, a district may be declared a District of Choice, which allows the district to accept a specified number of inter-district transfers without a separate inter-district agreement as long as such transfers do not exacerbate racial segregation. A District of Choice cannot deny a transfer request on the basis that the costs to provide services exceeds the revenue received, but it may reject a request if it would necessitate the creation of a new program, with the exception of a program that would support a special-needs or English-learner student.
If the number of transfer applications is more than the stated number approved by the governing board, a random drawing is to be conducted at a regularly scheduled board meeting. Communications to parents or guardians by Districts of Choice must be factually accurate and are prohibited from targeting parents or guardians or residential neighborhoods on the basis of a student’s actual or perceived academic ability, athletic performance, or other personal characteristics. A District of Choice must give priority to students with siblings already attending the district and may give priority to children of military personnel.
A District of Residence can limit the number of transfers out of the district if a negative budget certification exists or if such transfers would affect its ability to meet the standards and criteria for fiscal stability.
- Check with the school district office to see if it is a District of Choice.
- Forms to request a District of Choice transfer are available at all schools and districts and the Sonoma County Office of Education. They may also be downloaded here: English version (pdf) | Spanish version (pdf).
The law allows you to apply to have your child transferred to the district in which your place of employment is located. The district is not obligated to grant your request, but can’t deny it on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex, income, academic achievement, or other arbitrary reason. Your request can be denied if it would cost the district more to educate your child than the government provides. The district of residence can limit the number of students transferring out under this law. An employment-related transfer will be renewed automatically each year as long as you are employed within the district boundaries. Parents are responsible to provide transportation for a student on an employment-related transfer. There is no statutory right to appeal a denial.
- Forms to request an Employment-Related Transfer are available at all schools and districts, the Sonoma County Office of Education, or by download: English version (pdf) | Spanish version (pdf).
Transfer to a Charter School
Charter schools are independent public schools, designed and operated by educators, parents, community members and others. The law allows charter schools to operate exempt from most laws governing school districts. Charter schools must admit all students who want to attend, subject to the provisions of their charter, enrollment limits, and any admission requirements. Charter schools are not governed by district or neighborhood boundaries. Your child may apply to attend any charter school within your district or outside your district. You do not need the approval of your district of residence to transfer to a charter school in another district.
- Application forms are available at the charter school.
Other Interdistrict Transfers
The law also allows a school district to enter into an agreement with one or more other districts to allow for interdistrict transfers between those districts, even if none of the districts have elected to be a District of Choice. The districts may specify in their agreement the terms and conditions for allowing transfers. In addition, all school districts in Sonoma County have adopted local policy and criteria for accepting or denying transfers. You can request a particular school, but the district makes the final determination as to which school your child will attend. Participating districts may take into consideration the childcare needs of the student. If a transfer is approved based on childcare needs, a K-6 student will not be required to re-apply for the transfer each year, provided the student continues to receive child care in the district. Parents are responsible to provide transportation for a student on an interdistrict transfer. If either district denies a transfer request, you may appeal that decision to the Sonoma County Board of Education.
- Forms to request this kind of transfer, called an Interdistrict Attendance Permit form, are available at all schools and districts, the Sonoma County Office of Education, or by download: English version (pdf) | Spanish version (pdf).
Other Attendance Options
Although students generally attend the neighborhood school in the school district where their parents live, there are a few legal alternatives to regular public school attendance. Charter schools, which are a type of independent public school, and private schools are two educational alternatives. In addition, independent study, sometimes referred to as home study, and private tutoring provide legal exemptions to the compulsory school attendance law.
- Parents interested in home schooling should review this memo, Legal Alternatives to the Public School Classroom (pdf), which also includes a listing of local independent/home study programs in Sonoma County.
Inter-District Attendance Appeal
A parent/guardian may appeal the denial of an inter-district attendance permit by a school district to the Sonoma County Board of Education. The County Board will grant or deny an appeal on its merits and will consider the welfare of the student, the impact upon the family, and the impact upon the school districts involved.
- To file an appeal, you may download the Inter-district Attendance Appeal Packet: English version (pdf) | Spanish version (pdf) – or call (707) 524-2888 to request that a packet be mailed to you.
- An appeal must be filed within 30 calendar days after a district denies an inter-district attendance permit.
California law gives educators the responsibility to maintain a moral, educational, and disciplined school environment. To accomplish this, school districts and their schools are authorized to establish disciplinary policies and procedures and school employees have the duty to enforce them. When school rules are violated, there must be consequences; students must be held accountable for their actions. Expulsion is the most serious disciplinary action a school district can impose on a student. A student expelled from school may file an appeal of the expulsion to the Sonoma County Board of Education (Education Code § 48919). The County Board will review the case and determine if the student was provided appropriate due process and a fair hearing.
- To file an expulsion appeal, you may download an Expulsion Appeal Packet: English version (pdf) | Spanish version (pdf) – or call (707) 524-2888 to request that a packet be mailed to you.
- An appeal must be filed within 30 calendar days following the decision of the district governing board to expel.
- Lynn Garric, Consultant, Safe Schools
- Jackie Petersen, Support Secretary IV