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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Application Process

When is the best time to submit an application for the 2019-20 enrollment process?

For the best chances for your schools of choice, apply by January 11, 2019. Families who applied by January 11, 2019, will receive school offer letters in the week of March 18, 2019.      

What if I don’t like the school assigned to me?

After you have received a school offer in the week of March 18, 2019, you can still choose to participate in the process to try for an assignment to a higher choice school by submitting an application by April 5, 2019. As long as you have registered at your assigned school, you will still keep that spot unless you get a higher choice school assignment.  There will also be a wait pool process for the schools that are full. Families may submit a wait pool request for one school and their child’s name will be added to that particular school’s wait pool.  If space becomes available, a computer assignment run will be done and the wait pool participants will be notified on the specified date.

What if I missed the April 5, 2019 deadline?

Families who missed the April 5, 2019 deadline, can get assigned to schools with openings by visiting the Educational Placement Center (EPC) between June 26 and August 30, 2019.  During this period, any student may be assigned immediately into a school with openings that do not have any wait pool requests pending.  Students who receive an assignment during this period may still opt to submit a wait pool request as long as the request is submitted by the specified deadline.

Age Requirements

What are the age requirements for the 2019-20 school year?

California law now requires that a child must be five years old on or before September 1, 2019 to be legally eligible for Kindergarten and six years old on or before September 1, 2018 to be legally eligible for first grade.

Students who will have their fifth birthday between September 2 and December 2, 2019 are eligible for a Transitional Kindergarten program for the 2019-20 school year. Transitional Kindergarten is the first year of a two-year kindergarten program that uses a modified kindergarten curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate.

Note: If you sign and submit the enrollment application, and your child meets the age eligibility for Transitional Kindergarten, your child will be enrolled in a Transitional K program for the 2019-20 school year and will be required to apply for a Kindergarten assignment for the 2020-21 school year by submitting an application available in October 2019.

Residency Requirements

What are the residency requirements for attending an SFUSD school?

A minor’s residence is presumed to be the legal residence of the parent(s) or guardian(s) who have physical custody of the minor. In order to be enrolled in SFUSD, the student’s parent/legal guardian must continually reside in San Francisco at the time of application and for the entire period of enrollment in SFUSD.  

This residency policy does not apply to homeless students.

Definition of Residency

For the purpose of this policy, a resident is an individual who is a full time occupant of a dwelling located in San Francisco and who, on any given day, is likely to be at his/her stated address when not at work or school. In determining the place of residence the following rules shall be observed:

  1. It is the place where one remains when not called elsewhere for labor or other special or temporary purpose, and to which he/she returns in seasons of repose.
  2. There can only be one residence.
  3. A residence cannot be lost until another is gained.
  4. The residence of the parent/guardian with whom an unmarried minor child maintains his/her place of abode is the residence of such unmarried minor child.
  5. The residence can be changed only by the union of act and intent.

If the parents are separated and live at different addresses, the pupil must physically reside with the parent in San Francisco for at least 50% of the time during the regular school year.

Temporary residence in San Francisco, solely for the purpose of attending a SFUSD school, shall not be considered residency. A person who owns property in San Francisco, but does not reside in San Francisco, is not considered a resident.

Required Documents

See a list of necessary documents you need to enroll your child here.

These documents also will be required for any change of address and may be requested for transitional students entering 6th or 9th grade.

More about Residency Requirements can be found under Enrollment Policies.

Interdistrict Transfers

I live in San Francisco, but wish to attend a public school outside of san Francisco. How do I apply?

If you are a resident of San Francisco and wish for your child to attend a public school outside of San Francisco, you must submit an interdistrict permit to the EPC. The parent/guardian should bring a current verification of the San Francisco home address. Beginning in January, permits are processed and approved or disapproved on a weekly basis and forwarded to the requested district. Final approval is made by the requested district.

I don’t live in San Francisco but wish to attend a San Francisco public school. How do I apply?

If your student wishes to attend a San Francisco public school and you do not live in San Francisco, you must obtain an interdistrict permit from your current public school district of residence. The interdistrict transfer agreement permit is required for anyone living outside of San Francisco who wishes to attend or continue attending a San Francisco public school. It is an annual permit and must be on file for each school year. Interdistrict transfer request students cannot be guaranteed enrollment in SFUSD.

For more information, visit Enrollment Policies: Interdistrict Transfers.

J1- Foreign Exchange Students

Can international or overseas students attend SFUSD schools?

The SFUSD does not currently participate or issue the federal SEVIS generated I-20 form for potential F1 students.

Please visit the uscis.gov or travel.state.gov websites for more information on the F1 student visa process.

Approved J1 student exchange organizations must contact the SFUSD Educational Placement Center when requesting placement of a foreign exchange student.

Foreign J1 students are offered an assignment to schools with space. No assignments can be made to schools that lack capacity.

Foreign Transcript Translations

To facilitate the special needs of overseas high school students entering into the San Francisco Unified School District, the Educational Placement Center provides translations of transcript from foreign countries and makes recommendations for proper academic placement in our educational system.

Many countries require different years of schooling and academic requirements for public education. Some countries have 13 years of elementary and secondary education. Others have 11-year systems. Still, others have 10-year systems. High school students who want to enroll into San Francisco public schools should also bring their transcripts from their countries of origin in addition to the required documents. The placement counselors will translate the foreign transcripts and make a placement for an appropriate grade level.

For any additional questions please send your e-mail to: Enrollinschool@sfusd.edu.

Mid-Year Transfers

Can I transfer my student to another SFUSD school during the school year?

Transfers during the school year are disruptive for students and schools and will generally not be accepted.  Transfers are not permitted after the enrollment cycle ends in early September except in limited circumstances:

  1. Change of address
  2. Disciplinary action
  3. Safety concerns
  4. IEP Team-approved transfers for special education students

For explanation of these circumstances, please visit Enrollment Policies: Mid-Year Transfers.

New School Year Transfers

How can I transfer my child to a different school in the following school year?

Students who are in non-transitional grades may apply for a school or program transfer for the following school year during the enrollment cycle.  The parent must submit an enrollment application listing any number of choices of schools or programs that are preferred over the present assignment according to the key dates for each placement period.

The assignment of students will be based on space availability during each placement period and assignment offers go out at the same time as all other notifications.

Please note that in non-transitional grades, it is assumed that all students enrolled at the time of placement will be promoted up to the next grade unless there are approved retentions or accelerations.  This may limit space availability.

In the event that there are more requests than openings for a school or program, the appropriate tie-breaker (as outlined in the Policy section) process will be utilized to assign students.

Transfer requests will be processed for all placement periods and in the waiting pool process.  Students who wish to transfer because of medical reasons or family hardship MUST submit a Medical or Family Hardship Appeal during the enrollment cycle.

For more information, visit Enrollment Policies: New School Year Transfers.

Enrollment of Students and Families Experiencing Homelessness (SAFEH)

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, reauthorized in December 2001, ensures educational rights and protections for children and youth experiencing homelessness. Children of Families and Youth in Transition (FYIT) who wish to enroll in SFUSD for the first time will enroll at the Educational Placement Center (EPC) located at 555 Franklin Street, Room 100. Please contact the EPC at 241- 6085 or 241-6136. Students may apply to any school in the district provided they meet the admissions requirement if there is one. The actual assignment to a specific school will be based on space availability for the grade level or program need.

The District office for Students and Families Experiencing Homelessness (SAFEH) is located at 20 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118.  Phone: (415) 750-4500, ext.1408.

What if a homeless child or youth does not have the documents required for school registration?

  • Schools, agencies, shelters and others may contact a placement counselor at EPC (241-6085 or 241-6136) to start the process for enrollment.

  • The school selected shall immediately enroll the child/youth in school, even if the child or youth lacks records normally required for enrollment, such as previous academic records, medical records, proof of residency, or other documentation (Sec. 722(g)(3)(i)).

  • If a child or youth lacks immunizations or immunization or medical records, the enrolling school can refer parent/guardian to the District Liaison, who shall help obtain necessary immunizations or immunization or medical records. (Sec 722(g)(3)(C)(iii)).

  • The enrolling school must immediately contact the last school attended to obtain relevant academic and other records (Sec. 722(g)(3)(c)(ii)).

  • The terms “enroll” and “enrollment” are defined to include attending classes and participating fully in school activities (Sec. 725(3)).

  • Any record ordinarily kept by the Enrollment of SAFEH school, including immunization or medical records, academic records, birth certificates, guardianship records, and evaluations for special services or programs, of each homeless child or youth must be maintained so that the records are available, in a timely fashion (14 days grace period), when a child or youth enters a new school or school district, and in a manner consistent with section 444 of the General Education Provisions Act (Section 722(g)(3)(D).

  • Coordinating services provided to the shelters & others by the District Liaison include Muni fast passes, uniforms, tutoring, and school supplies. Dispute Resolution Process –Local educational agencies (LEAs) must ensure that each homeless child and youth has equal access to the same free, appropriate public education, including a public preschool program, as other children and youths.
    Following are the components for resolving disputes:

    • if a dispute arises over school selection or enrollment, the child/youth must be immediately enrolled in the school in which he/she is seeking enrollment, pending resolution of the dispute (PL 107-110, Section 722(g)(3)(E)(iv)). Enrollment is defined as “attending classes and participating fully in school activities.”

    • The school must refer the student, parent, or guardian to the District Liaison to carry out the dispute resolution process as expeditiously as possible. The Homeless Liaison must ensure that the dispute resolution process is also followed for unaccompanied youths.

    • A written explanation of the school’s decision regarding school selection or enrollment must be provided to the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth.

    • If the dispute remains unresolved at the district level or is appealed, then the District Liaison shall forward all written materials to the Executive Director of Pupil Services for review and a decision within 5 working days.

    • If the dispute remains unresolved, the Executive Director of Pupil Services shall forward all documents to the State Homeless Coordinator, Leanne Wheeler.

What children are considered homeless?

  • Children and Youth Living in Shelters, Single Room Occupancy (SRO), Transitional Housing, the Streets, Cars, Abandoned Buildings, and Other Inadequate Accommodations are considered homeless.

  • Children and Youth Living in Trailer Parks and Camping Grounds: Children living temporarily in trailer parks or camping areas because they lack adequate accommodations are considered homeless. But, if they are living there on a long-term basis in adequate accommodations they are not deemed homeless.

  • Doubled up Children and Youth: Children living in housing that their family shares with other families or individuals are considered homeless if they are doubled-up due to a loss of housing. But families who are voluntarily doubled-up to save money generally are not considered homeless.
    Foster Children and Youth: In general, children in foster homes are not considered homeless. But children placed in foster homes because of their parents’ lack of shelter are deemed homeless. Also, children living in an emergency shelter or transitional living facility because there is nowhere else to send them while they are awaiting placement in a foster home or home for neglected children are considered homeless – until the placement is made.

  • Hospitalized Children and Youth: Children who are ready for discharge but remain hospitalized because their families have abandoned them are considered homeless. Children who were homeless prior to hospitalization are considered homeless while in the hospital unless regular and adequate accommodations will be made available to them upon discharge.
    Incarcerated Children and Youth: Children who are under the care of the State and are held in an institution because they have no other place to live are considered homeless.

  • Migratory Children and Youth: Children of migrant workers are considered homeless only to the extent that they are staying in accommodations not fit for habitation.

  • Runaways: Children who have run away from home and live in runaway shelters, on the streets, in abandoned buildings, or other “inadequate accommodations” even if their parents have and are willing to provide a home for them, are considered homeless.

  • Unaccompanied Youth: Children whose parents or guardians will not permit them to live at home are considered homeless if they live on the streets, in shelters, or other transitional or inadequate accommodations.

  • Unwed Mothers: School-age children or youth who are living in homes for unwed and expectant mothers and have no other available living accommodations are considered homeless. But, if they are in such homes only to receive specific services, and intend to move to other adequate accommodations, they are not considered homeless.

In those cases in which children do not fit neatly into one of these clear categories, state and local educational agencies must make case-by-case determinations.

Transitional Kindergarten (TK) in SFUSD

My child turns 5 years old between September 2nd and December 2nd, 2018. What options do I have?

Parents must decide which environment is appropriate for their child. There are 2 options:

  1. Parents may enroll in a District PreK program (or, if already enrolled in PreK, children may stay in PreK an additional year). Subsidies or tuition for PreK still apply. These families are opting out of Transitional Kindergarten (TK). OR

  2. Parents may enroll their child in a SFUSD Transitional Kindergarten program.

Is there a snack and lunch for TK students?

Lunch is offered at district schools. If you want your child to participate in the meal program, please complete the meal application form or go to SFUSD's “Nutrition & School Meals” section.

If there are more requests than spaces available at a given school, what are the TK program tiebreakers?

Please see the description of the TK program tie-breakers on the "Apply for Transitional Kindergarten" page.

What are my options if my TK age child has special needs?

Families should identify their child’s special need(s) on the SFUSD General Enrollment Application Form and attach formal documentation. Individual considerations will be made for these children.

Siblings

How are siblings defined by SFUSD?

Students who live at the same address and have the same parent/guardian are considered siblings.

How does the sibling tiebreaker preference work?

Younger siblings can be assigned to their older sibling’s school if the older sibling will still be attending during the upcoming school year, and if space is available. If placement in the older sibling’s school is desired, we strongly recommend that you list the older sibling’s school on the application form as your first choice. If you do not list the older sibling’s school as the first choice, there is a possibility that the student will be placed in a different school. We also recommend that you list other schools also in the event there is a lack of space in the older sibling’s school.

An older sibling will not receive a priority to attend a younger sibling’s school. The purpose of the sibling priority is to assist families with multiple children to enroll their children in a school together, not to provide a placement priority into multiple schools. Additionally, we strive to assign younger siblings into an older sibling’s school as allowable by space, but may not necessarily be able to assign the sibling into the same program (such as language programs).

We encourage you to list additional schools in the event that space is unavailable in the older sibling’s school or program.

Siblings who are applying for school at the same time for different grade levels cannot be guaranteed placement into the same school. There is a possibility that new siblings applying for school may be assigned to different schools based on space availability. Some families, in fact, choose to have the siblings attend different schools. There is no way we will know you desire to keep siblings together if different schools are listed in a different order of preference.

Twins and Multiples

If placement into the same school is desired for twins, triplets and multiples, each application should indicate the same school choices in the same order.

The parent/guardian must indicate on the enrollment application check box that they wish to have their twins or multiples placed in the same school. When one twin is assigned to a choice school, the student assignment process will seek to place the other twin into the same school if space is available. If an assignment cannot be offered to one of the requested schools, then the twins will be assigned together into the school closest to home with openings as space allows.

If you choose ‘No’ on the check box, then twins, triplets or multiples will go into the assignment process as individual students. In the event that multiples are separated in the assignment process, a sibling tie-breaker will be assigned to the sibling requesting placement into the other sibling’s school for any subsequent placement period.

What happens if I check the “Yes” box on the enrollment application to have my twins assigned together?

If you check the “yes” box, indicating that you want your twins to be assigned together, then the student assignment process will treat them initially as individual students in the computerized process. Once one twin receives a tentative assignment, the other twin will be linked with the sibling and the process will seek to assign the sibling to the school if space allows. If there is no space for the second twin, then neither twin will be assigned. If neither twin receives an assignment to any choice school, then both twins will be assigned to the school closest to home with two openings.

What happens if I don’t check the “Yes” box on the enrollment application to have my twins assigned together?

If you do not check the “yes” box indicating that you want your twins assigned together, they will go into the assignment process as individual students for the entire process. There will be a possibility that they may be separated in this process.

What are my options if the twins are separated?

The parent may submit an application form for the May Placement Period or Wait Pool Process for one twin to join the other. The twin will receive a sibling priority in the assignment process to join their sibling for any future openings. The assignment of a sibling is a higher priority after appeals, but can only be offered if there are openings at the school and program. There cannot be a guarantee that there will be openings to accommodate siblings.

I want my twins assigned together, but I am concerned about getting a lower choice school, what are my options?

Parents of twins and multiples must make a decision regarding how they want the twins’ assignment to work. Linking them together will ensure that they will be assigned together, but the trade-off will be that they both may be assigned to a lower choice or non-choice school.

Having twins treated separately in the process may result in, but not guaranteed of, one or the other twin receiving an offer to a higher choice school.

My twins are in a non-transitional grade (not TK, K, 6th or 9th) but I would like to transfer them both to another school. What are my options?

Applying for and receiving an assignment into a school and program in a non-transitional grade is only limited to available openings since students presently attending are expected to promote to the next grade.

It is recommended that parents of twins who want to transfer to another school or program check the “yes” box on the enrollment application so that the twins will only transfer if there are two seats available. Otherwise, there is a risk that one twin may be assigned and the other not. Once a twin receives a new assignment, they relinquish the former placement and there may be no opportunity to return.

Attendance Area

What is an attendance area?

Elementary attendance areas are geographic borders drawn around elementary schools throughout the district. Middle and high schools do not have attendance areas/geographical borders.

How does my attendance area affect school placement?

We create attendance areas so there can be a system of helping you get placement in your attendance area school if you wish. You are not required to choose your attendance area school, nor can you be guaranteed a placement at your attendance area school. Middle school students get an initial placement offer based on the elementary school they attend, regardless of where they live. If middle school students decide to choose different schools, they will get an attendance area tie-breaker based on where they live.

Does every elementary school have an attendance area?

No. City-wide schools and city-wide programs do not have an attendance area.

Attendance Area SFUSD PreK or TK Tie-Breaker

How will the attendance area SFUSD PreK or TK tie-breaker work?

This is an attendance area tie-breaker that will apply to students who live in an attendance area and attend an SFUSD PreK or TK in the attendance area.

Will this tie-breaker apply to me if I attend an SFUSD PreK or TK but do not live in the attendance area?

No. This is an attendance area tie-breaker that will only apply to students who live in an attendance area and attend an SFUSD PreK or TK in the attendance area.

City-Wide Schools & Programs

What does ‘city-wide’ mean?

City-wide means there is no attendance area, and as a result city-wide schools and programs do not provide a tie-breaker for students who live near the school.

Which schools are city-wide?

To discover more about these schools, take a look at this school listing.

What are examples of city-wide programs?

Newcomer programs are a great example. These serve students who have recently arrived in the US and help them learn English. Other city-wide programs are language programs listed as city-wide on the application form. These are language programs that are available only at a limited number of schools, and have a separate enrollment capacity.

How does the student assignment policy relate to Lowell and Ruth Asawa SF SOTA high schools?

If you are applying to Lowell High School or the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, their admissions policies have not changed and the school placement policy does not apply. Lowell High School uses academic admission criteria, and Ruth Asawa School of the Arts has an audition process.

Can I transfer to a different school?

If you’re currently enrolled in a school and are interested in a transfer for any reason, you can submit a transfer request. We’ll process your transfer when feasible.

Special Education

How is the assignment offer determined for students receiving special education services?

The Individual Education Program (“IEP”) team determines the appropriate services, settings, and placement options for each student receiving special education services. Although the majority of students receiving special education services may be served at any school and participate without restriction in the general enrollment process, certain highly specialized services for particular disabilities with low incidence rates are not available at all school sites. Detailed information on the enrollment process for all students with IEPs in the Special Education section, which contains the list of intensive services offered at specific schools. Special Education counselors at the EPC are available to assist families with their applications; drop-in and scheduled appointments are available.

Transportation

What about transportation?

The District offers limited general education transportation services to a limited number of SFUSD’s elementary and middle schools. As school bus transportation service is not a mandate under California law, the following Board policy guidelines inform the strategic use of resources for limited general education school bus transportation services:

  • Support choice in student assignment as a tactic for creating diversity
  • Provide reasonable access to English Learner pathways, from CTIP 1 areas to city-wide schools and programs, and to attendance area school
  • Support middle school feeder patterns
  • Provide limited school bus transportation to after school programs if feasible and necessary to support the District’s vision for after school services
  • Minimize the use of unrestricted general fund budget contributions for general education school bus transportation.

Enrollment Process for Transportation Services

If your child is enrolled in one of the SFUSD schools receiving general education services, they may participate in transportation services, subject to availability. To ensure equitable access to this limited resource, parents must request services on behalf of their child(ren). The Request for Services form for the 2018-19 school year will be issued by the Transportation Department in early spring 2018. The Transportation Department will provide an online version and multilingual paper copies of the Request for Services form.

There is no guarantee that general education transportation services will be available, and all requests for service are subject to the Transportation Department’s review and approval. SFUSD reserves the right to change, reduce, allocate, or deny services or service routes, at any time, based on budgetary and other constraints.

Alternatives to Yellow Bus Transportation

Given the uncertainty regarding state categorical resources specified for student transportation, we strongly encourage all families to explore alternatives to yellow bus transportation services. Below are websites with community resources that provide alternatives to yellow bus transportation:
If you have any questions, please contact the SFUSD Transportation Department:
1000 Selby Street,
San Francisco, CA 94124
 Tel: (415) 695-5505
Fax: (415) 695-5759

Click here to see the most recent update on the school bus schedules for the current school year.

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