Sonoma County Office of Education

Schools & Districts

FAQ

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the public school system in Sonoma County. If you are unable to find the answer to your question here, please contact your school district directly or call the Sonoma County Office of Education at (707) 524-2600.

Attendance

How old does my child have to be to enroll in kindergarten?
The current law states that children must be five years old on or before September 1 to be age-eligible for kindergarten. Districts may elect to enroll students born after this date and/or offer students a one- to two-year program depending on each child’s readiness for school and available funding. Learn more at the California Department of Education website or contact your local school for additional information about enrollment options and timelines.

At what age can my child leave school?
Children between ages 6 and 18 are subject to the compulsory education law, according to Education Code 48200.

When does the school year start and stop in Sonoma County?
Each district sets the calendar for its schools annually, determining the first and last day of school and when breaks will occur. School calendars can vary from district to district across the county. As school calendars are set and approved by each district, SCOE compiles a countywide list of key dates. Please see the district calendar summary in the box to the left. For information about the calendar for a specific school, contact the school or district directly.

Must my child attend our neighborhood school?
Attendance Options & Appeals explains the different types of transfer options available in Sonoma County, including transfers within a district and transfers outside of a district. Charter schools provide another attendance option for students. Charter schools are open to all students who wish to attend, regardless of the family’s district of residence.

Are there alternatives to “regular” public school?
There are three legal alternatives available to parents who wish to place their school-age children in a setting other than a public school classroom: independent or home study, private school, and private tutoring. Legal Alternatives to the Comprehensive Public School Classroom (pdf) explains those options and provides a list of home study programs offered by Sonoma County public schools.

Are there alternatives to receiving a high school diploma?
There are two alternatives for students who want to demonstrate high school proficiency without completing the requirements of high school graduation. Students who are at least 16 years old may earn the legal equivalent of a high school diploma by passing the California High School Proficiency Examination or CHSPE. This site explains how to register and provides the dates and locations for testing in Sonoma County.

General Educational Development (GED) tests are the second alternative to high school graduation. GED tests are designed to measure the skills and knowledge equivalent to a high school course of study for students who are 18 years old and older. Santa Rosa Junior College regularly administers GED tests to the general public. Duplicate GED records are available by calling the ETS-GED Records Center toll-free at (866) 370-4740 and following the prompts.

Contacting & Locating Schools

What school district is my home located in?
The County of Sonoma’s District Lookup By Address website is an online service that allows you to look up your school district by street address, along with your congressional, supervisorial, and other districts. You may also contact the main receptionist at the Sonoma County Office of Education, (707) 524-2600, to obtain the name of the school district corresponding to a particular street address.

Where can I find the address and phone number of a school?
The Sonoma County Office of Education provides an online directory of schools.

Can I get a map showing school district boundaries?
This district map (pdf) provides a general overview of the location of Sonoma County school districts. Maps of individual districts are also available for purchase from SCOE. Note that these maps do not show school attendance areas or provide street detail. Contact (707) 524-2634 for information about purchasing district maps.

Where do I pay school impact fees?
School impact fees, also called building fees, are generally paid at school district offices. Fees for Horicon and Kashia school districts are collected in the Business Services department at the Sonoma County Office of Education, (707) 524-2625.

Employment

What are the current employment opportunities in Sonoma County schools?
Many school employment opportunities are posted on EdJoin, a national education job opportunities information network. Because each school district independently recruits and employs its staff, contacting district offices is the best way to find out about the varied job openings in each district. Some school district websites include job postings and support an online application process. See our Find a District page for district addresses, phone numbers, and websites.

How do I become a substitute teacher?
SCOE holds regularly scheduled information sessions to explain the requirements of substitute teaching in Sonoma County. You will find information about these sessions in the Substitute Teaching section of our website.

GATE Programs

Are there GATE programs available in Sonoma County?
California’s Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program is now funded through California's Local Control Funding Formula. It enables schools and districts to develop unique education opportunities for students who have been identified as gifted and talented. Most Sonoma County school districts have programs for gifted and talented students. Each district establishes its own process for selecting students for these programs. Contact individual districts to learn more.

The California Association for the Gifted (CAG) is another resource for information about GATE programs. This website lists the Redwood Region CAG representatives who serve Sonoma County.

Legal Issues

How can I access the state education code related to a particular issue?
You can search California’s Education Code by topic, look up a particular code number, or review any section of the code online through the California Law section of the California Legislative Information website.

Resolving Complaints

How do I resolve a complaint with my child’s school?
If you are experiencing a problem with your local school, there is a specific procedure that you should follow to get your complaint resolved.

If your complaint involves an individual teacher or other member of the school staff, it is suggested that you contact him/her directly to discuss your concerns and try to resolve the problem informally. If this fails, contact the principal or vice principal of the school. If this also produces unsatisfactory results or you are uncertain how to proceed, contact the district office for assistance.

Each district has a written policy and administrative regulations for dealing with complaints. These documents provide direction on how to file a complaint at the district level and will be provided to you on request. In many cases, you will be asked to submit your complaint in writing. Complaints are handled as described in the district policy, which also includes an appeal process.

Some types of complaints may require special handling. For example, if your complaint involves special education services, you may want to call the Sonoma County SELPA’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) helpline at (707) 524-2785. This resource is available to resolve disagreements between schools and the families of all children in special education in Sonoma County. If your complaint alleges discrimination, harassment, or a violation of a federal or state law, you may need to follow Uniform Complaint Procedures. Your school district can inform you about this process.

Parents sometimes attempt to contact the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) for assistance regarding complaints against local schools; however, SCOE does not have authority over local schools and these calls are referred back to the district level. Note that the day-to-day operations of each public school are overseen by a district superintendent and elected board of trustees, not by the County Office of Education.

If you would like contact information for a particular district, please see our district directory.

Civil rights complaints may also be filed at any time with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. More information on how to do so is available here.

Is there an appeal process if an inter-district transfer is denied?
The Sonoma County Board of Education hears inter-district transfer appeals. See Attendance Options & Appeals for information about this process. Staff in SCOE’s Administration office can answer questions regarding the appeal process. Please email Kristen Johnson at kjohnson@scoe.org or call (707) 524-8402.

Test Scores & School Performance

How can I get the most recent test scores?
Summary data on test scores and school performance is available in the Accountability & Testing section of our website. More detailed information on all of these topics can be accessed via DataQuest, the California Department of Education’s website for statistical information.

What kind of questions are students asked on the computerized Smarter Balanced assessments?
Parents and students can access practice tests that simulate what it’s like to take the Smarter Balanced assessments. To access these tests, go to the Smarter Balanced website and sign in as a guest. The California Department of Education has also setup a matrix of Smarter Balanced Question Types. This matrix offers examples of question types that students may encounter on the Smarter Balanced assessments and the student technology skill required to respond to each question type.

What is a School Accountability Report Card (SARC)?
Public school districts in California are required to prepare an annual School Accountability Report Card (SARC) for each of their elementary and secondary schools. The purpose of the report cards is to inform the community about the conditions and progress being made at each local school. SARCs provide information about a school’s student population, student achievement, school programs, and instructional staff. SARCs for Sonoma County schools can be found on district websites or by using the search feature the state’s SARC website.