We welcome and serve all students
Specific Information by Applicant Type
We are committed to providing excellent educational opportunities that are open, accessible, and welcoming to all SFUSD students.
Contact: Multilingual Pathways Department
The San Francisco Unified School District is committed to ensuring that English Learners acquire high levels of English and home language proficiency (where available), academic achievement and skills that will lead to success in the 21st century. As such, we provide various educational programs and language pathways for students who are English Learners. This section provides a general overview of the enrollment process for English Learners. For a complete description, see the English Learner Program Guide, available though the Enrollment Center (EC) or on the English Learner Family Guides page.
Who is an English Learner?
Your child is classified as an English Learner (EL) if when you filled out the “Home Language Survey” on the SFUSD Enrollment Application, you answered at least one of the following questions with a language other than English:
- What language did your child first learn when s/he began to talk?
- What language do you use most frequently to speak with your child?
- What language does your child use most frequently at home?
And if at grades Transitional Kindergarten (TK) and above, your child did not receive an overall score of “Initial Fluent English Proficient” on the Initial English Language Proficiency Assessment for California (ELPAC) or your child has not yet been reclassified as an English-proficient student by SFUSD.
If my child is an English Learner, how do I enroll them in school?
Students who speak a language other than English and list a Language Pathway as a school choice may be assessed for their current language skills to evaluate a child’s proficiency in the pathway language before they can enroll in school. Parents/guardians should submit their child’s enrollment application early to meet with an Enrollment Center counselor and complete the necessary language assessments.
Where does my child take the assessment test?
Due to COVID-19, all assessments will be conducted remotely. Staff from the Enrollment Center will contact families to schedule and conduct assessments prior to families receiving a school assignment.
More details on eligible programs for English Learners and classification requirements can be found in the English Learner Program Guide, available at the Enrollment Center and online on the English Learner Family Guides page.
What happens after the test?
Once the test is completed and scored the parents/guardians speak with a counselor at the Enrollment Center to discuss test results, program options, and support services. Parents will have the opportunity to change the school or program requests on their child’s application if they so choose and/or if their child is not eligible for a selected language pathway.
What are the language programs available for English Learners?
SFUSD provides 6 programs:
- Dual Language Programs
- Biliteracy Programs
- Secondary Dual Language Programs
- Newcomer Programs
- World Language Programs
- English Plus Programs
We encourage parents and guardians to learn more about how each program can help English Learners academically succeed.
Where can I find more information about these programs?
See more information about Language Programs in the English Learner Family Guides.
Reclassification for English Learners
English Learners can be reclassified as Fluent English Proficient (RFEP) students after meeting linguistic and academic criteria set by the state and district. The Multilingual Pathways Department regularly distributes a list of students who potentially qualify for reclassification to schools. Schools are responsible for starting the reclassification process for each student. When a student is reclassified, the student’s academic progress must be monitored for two years.
Special Education for English Learners
Information on Special Education Services for English Learners with Individual Education Programs (IEPs) is available at www.sfusd.edu/sped, and in the English Learner Program Guide, available online at English Learner Family Guides and at the Enrollment Placement Center, 555 Franklin St. (room 100) in San Francisco.
Contact: Refugee and Immigrant Supports in Education (RISE-SF)
Phone: Angelina Romano, (415) 890-5324
RISE-SF supports all refugee and immigrant families at SFUSD, with a focus on newcomer immigrants and those who undocumented. We can support families in: Getting oriented to SFUSD policies and expectations; Building relationships with their school site staff; Understanding their rights and the immigration processes; Getting connected to community resources.
Any child whose parents/guardians live in San Francisco is guaranteed access to a free public education in SFUSD. Students will not be denied access to school because of their immigration status and may apply through the regular enrollment process.
Your Child has the Right to a Free Public Education
All children in the United States have a Constitutional right to equal access to free public education, regardless of immigration status and regardless of the immigration status of the students’ parents or guardians. In California:
- All children have the right to a free public education.
- All children ages 6 to 18 years must be enrolled in school.
- All students and staff have the right to attend safe, secure, and peaceful schools.
- All students have a right to be in a public school learning environment free from discrimination, harassment, bullying, violence, and intimidation.
- All students have equal opportunity to participate in any program or activity offered by the school, and cannot be discriminated against based on their race, nationality, gender, religion, or immigration status, among other characteristics.
Information Required for School Enrollment
- When enrolling a child, schools must accept a variety of documents from the student’s parent or guardian to demonstrate proof of child’s age or residency.
- You never have to provide information about citizenship/immigration status to have your child enrolled in school. Also, you never have to provide a Social Security number to have your child enrolled in school.
Students Receiving Special Education Services
Contact: Special Education
Children identified with a disability that affects their education may be eligible for special education services and an Individual Education Program (IEP). For more detailed information on the types of support SFUSD provides please visit - www.sfusd.edu/types-student-support.
Need help with special education enrollment?
Special Education placement counselors at the EC are available to assist with enrollment. Please call (415) 241-6085.
How do students with special education needs apply for school?
Students with an IEP may be required to submit an enrollment application if they are new to SFUSD, entering a transitional grade (TK, kindergarten, sixth and ninth), applying for Access/Transition Services, transferring to another school, or if there are changes to their special education needs. The same SFUSD enrollment application is used for all students. Families should attach their student’s IEP (if available) to their application in ParentVue and meet with a Special Education placement counselor if they have questions.
Most students with disabilities can attend a school of their choice. Although certain highly specialized services for disabilities are only available at specific schools, all schools have some special education services available. Families should complete the enrollment application and list any school preferences by the specified enrollment deadlines to receive their child’s school choice.
Outside of the regular enrollment period, the Enrollment Center (EC) will assign students to schools that meet their educational needs and have seats available. Students with special needs or mobility, vision or hearing impairments and who request to be in the same school as their siblings will receive a sibling tiebreaker preference as long as their selected school also provides the special education services required in their IEPs.
You can use the SFUSD School Finder to discover the special education programs at school sites. The SFUSD Schools section in the guide (starting on page 22) and the sfusd.edu/sped website list what special education services are offered at each school. Special education services at schools are subject to change. For the latest information, talk with your case manager or a special education placement counselor before completing your application.
Does your child need special education services?
If you think that your child may need a special education assessment, you can find more information about the process and who to contact on the SFUSD Screening and Assessment website.
Types of Special Education Supports Available in SFUSD
General Education with Supports (TK-12)
Every TK-12 school offers the necessary accommodations, modifications, supplementary aids, and/or supports designated in a student’s IEP. Students are assigned to a General Education classroom for the majority of the school day. They are assigned a Special Education case manager and receive accommodations and modifications as designated by their IEP.
Related Services (TK-12)
Related Services are designed to address specific, specialized interventions when necessary to provide access to core curriculum and grade level peers. A credentialed or licensed specialist provides services. These services may include: speech and language therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, vision services, orientation and mobility, nursing, audiology services and behavioral health services.
Resource Specialist Services (TK-12)
These services are available at every TK-12 school for students with disabilities who are assigned to the general education classroom for most of the school day. The services focus on accessing grade-level content with grade-level peers, as well as individualized instructional supports. Each student is assigned a special education teacher (also called a Resource Specialist), who is the student’s case manager. Resource Specialist services may be provided in the general education classroom and/or a separate setting as indicated in the student’s IEP. This includes sites with Learning Centers.
Special Day Class (SDC)/Separate Class (TK-12)
Separate Classes with specialized services are offered at some SFUSD schools to provide specialized academic instruction in a smaller classroom setting. Students in Separate Classes for the majority of the day are assigned a special education teacher and to a multi-grade classroom. Instruction focuses on students accessing common core standards through accommodations, modifications and specialized academic instruction. SDC classrooms are assigned additional adult support.
Access - Adult Transition Program (ages 18-22)
Students eligible for Access, the Adult Transition Program, are on track for a Certificate of Completion at the end of 12th grade. Access programming includes post-secondary education, employment, and independent living skills. Individual student needs, strengths, preferences and interests inform IEP services for instruction, related services, community experiences, employment development, and other post-school adult living objectives. SFUSD students on IEPs are eligible for special education services through Access until they are 22 years of age or complete a high school diploma.
Contact: Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program (FYSCP)
The San Francisco Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program (FYSCP) strives to address the unique educational needs of foster youth by working collaboratively with youth, caregivers, schools, placing agencies, and other service providers. Our website is a resource for collaborative partners to support the academic achievement of foster youth; enhancing their overall success.
FYSCP supports any child or youth who the dependency court has taken jurisdiction over and declared to be a dependent of the court due to the presence or risk of abuse or neglect.
Who qualifies as a foster youth?
- Children/youth who are dependents of the Dependency section of the juvenile court
- Children/youth residing in out of home placement as ordered by the Delinquency section of the Juvenile Court,
- SFUSD will enroll a foster child immediately even if the foster child is unable to produce records or clothing normally required for enrollment, such as previous academic records, medical records, proof of residency, other documentation, or school uniforms.
- To ensure a student’s appropriate school placement, we encourage all relevant documents be provided at the time of enrollment.
School of Origin Rights
- When a home placement change occurs, a foster child is allowed to remain in his/her school of origin while under the jurisdiction of the court.
- If a foster child exits foster care mid-year they are allowed to remain in his/her school of origin for the duration of the school year.
- High school students whose court jurisdiction terminates while they are in high school, can remain in their School of Origin through graduation.
- If the home placement is out of county, an inter-district transfer is required; however school placement will not be delayed.
Students Experiencing Homelessness
Students Experiencing Homelessness
SFUSD ensures educational rights and protections for students experiencing homelessness or students in transition who lack a fixed, regular, adequate nighttime residence. SFUSD students, prekindergarten through 12th grade, will have equal access to public education and educational resources deemed appropriate for their individual needs.
Who Qualifies As Students Who Might Be Homeless?
According to the McKinney-Vento Act and per SFUSD policy, children and youth who “lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.” This includes the following situations:
- Children and youth who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason.
- Children and youth who may be living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, shelters, or awaiting foster care placement.
- Children and youth who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.
- Children and youth who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings.
- Migratory children who qualify as homeless because they are children who are living in similar circumstances listed above.
Contact: Enrollment Center (formerly known as Educational Placement Center)
Phone: (415) 241-6085
Living in San Francisco and applying to another district
Parents/guardians must submit an interdistrict permit to the Enrollment Center (EC) if he/she lives in San Francisco and wants their child to attend a public school outside of San Francisco. The Parent/Guardian's ID and verification of the San Francisco home address must be submitted with the Interdistrict form. Students receiving Special Education Services must also submit a copy of their Individualized Educational Plan.
Interdistrict permits for the following school year are reviewed beginning in February and then weekly and forwarded to the requested district. Final approval is made by the requested district. Students who request interdistrict transfers are encouraged to also apply for school in the SFUSD in case the requested district does not approve. Interdistrict permits must be applied for annually.
Living outside San Francisco and applying to SFUSD
Students who do not live in San Francisco but want to apply for an SFUSD school should enroll in the school district where they live as a precaution in case they are not assigned to an SFUSD school. SFUSD grants interdistrict transfers if seats are available.
Applying for interdistrict transfer permits
- Students living outside of San Francisco who want to attend a SFUSD school must apply for an interdistrict transfer permit from the school district where they live, even if they have never attended school in that district. If the student’s district of residence approves the permit, it will be forwarded to the SFUSD Enrollment Center for approval.
- Applicants must submit a SFUSD enrollment application with their out-of-district address, and the documents needed for SFUSD enrollment. See sfusd.edu/requirements
- If applying for the 2024-25 school year, the SFUSD Application and Interdistrict Permit, approved by the resident district, are due by April 19, 2024. Applicants who apply by the deadline will receive an assignment notification the week of May 27, 2024. Applicants who submit either the Permit or the Application after the April 19th deadline, will need to participate in the Open Enrollment Period beginning July 15, 2024.
- If applying for the current 2023-24 school year, students are placed on a first come first served basis, where space is available, when both Permit and Application are received. Please visit or phone the Enrollment Center to work with a placement counselor to enroll your child.
Approving interdistrict transfers
Interdistrict transfer requests will be approved on a case-by-case basis. SFUSD reserves the right to limit the number of incoming students and establish priorities according to types of requests.
SFUSD school staff and students with siblings already attending their requested school have a priority within the Interdistrict applicant group, but not above San Francisco residents.
Students who need special education services and want to attend a SFUSD school must have their interdistrict transfer applications approved by the Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) Director or the Executive Director for Special Education Services before students will be placed in a school. Please note: most Special Education programs in the SFUSD are highly impacted and rarely have space available.
Interdistrict transfers will not be granted for high-demand schools, which are schools filled to capacity at the end of the first placement period. The requests also are not granted for Lowell High School and Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts.
Interdistrict permits must be renewed for students each school year. Students also must maintain satisfactory standards of academic progress, behavior and attendance for interdistrict transfers.
Potential reasons for interdistrict transfer permit approvals
Students who are victims of bullying at the school district where they live will have priority for interdistrict transfers under any existing interdistrict transfer agreements the student has, or will be given additional consideration for an interdistrict transfer agreement. Documentation of bullying is required.
Common reasons for approval:
- To meet the child care needs of the student
- Because the parent/guardian is employed in San Francisco
- Because the student has a sibling attending school in San Francisco
- To allow students to complete a school year if their parents/guardians moved out of the SFUSD boundaries during the school year
- When there is a valid interest in a particular educational program not offered in the school district where the student lives
Foreign Exchange Students
Contact: Educational Placement Center
Phone: (415) 241-6085
Students with J1 Visas
Approved J1 student exchange organizations must contact the SFUSD Educational Placement Center (EPC) when requesting placement of a foreign exchange student.
J1 visas are issued to students attending cultural and educational exchange opportunities in the United States through programs overseen by the U.S. State Department. J1 students will be assigned to an SFUSD school if space is available.
Students with F1 Visas
SFUSD does not participate or issue the federal Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) I-20 form for potential F1 students (international students with an F1 visa attending an academic program or English Language Program at a school in the United States).
This page was last updated on October 25, 2023