3.8.10 Attendance Options: Alternative Schools in Educational Programs

Attendance Options: Alternative Schools in Educational Programs

State law authorizes all school districts to provide for alternative schools.  CA Education Code 58500 defines an alternative school as a school or separate class group within a school that is operated in a manner designed to:

  • (1) Maximize the opportunity for students to develop the positive values of self-reliance, initiative, kindness, spontaneity, resourcefulness, courage, creativity, responsibility, and joy.
  • (2) Recognize that the best learning takes place when the student learns because of a desire to learn.
  • (3) Maintain a learning situation maximizing student self-motivation and encouraging the student in their own interest.  These interests may result in whole or in part from a presentation on choices of learning projects to their teachers.
  • (4) Maximize the opportunity for teachers, parents, and students to cooperatively develop the learning process and its subject matter.  This opportunity shall be a continuous, permanent process.
  • (5) Maximize the opportunity for students, teachers, and parents to continuously react to the changing world, including, but not limited to the community in which the school is located. 

In the event any parent, student, or teacher is interested in further information regarding alternative schools, the County Superintendent of Schools and the administrative office of this district shall have copies of the law available for your information.  This law particularly authorizes interested persons to request the governing board of the district to establish alternative school programs in each district.

Listed below are the alternatives available:

Independence High School, located at 1350 7th Avenue, serves a diverse group of students from across San Francisco. 

Independence High is an independent-study school offering a flexible schedule, an individualized learning structure and menu of support to create the conditions for students to become self-determined learners who find success in school, career and beyond.  Students participate in one of three programs: One to One, Community or Cohort.  Most students attend small project-based learning classes in the morning to meet academic requirements and they engage in Passion Projects (electives) and internships in the afternoon. 

There is a considerable amount of work outside of classes, so Independence students should be organized and motivated to succeed.  Applications can be submitted through the Voluntary Transfer process with their home school counselor or via the Enrollment Center for new-to-SFUSD students.

Ida B. Wells High School, located at 1099 Hayes, and Downtown High School, located at 693 Vermont Street, are the District’s two continuation schools for students who are lacking high school credits relative to their age. Students who select to enroll in a continuation high school must be at least 16 years of age at the time of enrollment.  Students who are 18 at the time they seek enrollment must obtain the principal’s permission prior to being assigned. Students are expected to attend daily for a full day of instruction.  However, students are given an opportunity to earn high school credits at an accelerated pace due to the program structure.

Students who are new to SFUSD should report initially to the Enrollment Center at 555 Franklin St.  Students within SFUSD should discuss admission to a continuation school with their school counselor, or contact the Student Family School Resource Link by emailing sflink@sfusd.edu or calling (415) 340-1716.  All minors must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.  Assignments are made on a space availability basis.  The documents required for enrollment are a copy of a current transcript, a copy of the IEP if a student has Special Education services, proof of residence, and a copy of the Immunization Record.

The California School Age Families Education (Cal-SAFE) Program is designed to increase the availability of support services necessary for any enrolled expectant/parenting students to improve academic achievement and parenting skills and to provide a quality childcare/development program for their children. 

Hilltop School, 1325 Florida Street, is an optional, alternative SFUSD program with additional support services including childcare, parenting education, and career vocational education offered on site.  Enrollment into the Cal-SAFE program is voluntary, and Cal-SAFE services are available to all SFUSD students described above, whether enrolled at Hilltop or any SFUSD school.  For more information contact the Cal-SAFE coordinator through the Student Family School Resource Link by emailing sflink@sfusd.edu or calling (415) 340-1716.

County Community Schools, administrative offices located at 44 Gough Street, provide a personalized school environment for students in grades 6-12. Besides offering the traditional SFUSD curriculum, County Community Schools incorporate an integrated academic and behavioral support approach and offer individualized and unique programming such as on-line learning; social/emotional support groups; and career and job readiness counseling.    

Depending on age, placement, and expulsion status, students have the option to remain in these programs or return to District schools or programs.  Students are referred and placed by the County Office, in partnership with the Student and Family Services Division and the Enrollment Center, and are enrolled for classes at our County Community facility.  Documents required for enrollment are the same as those described above.  Please email TransferPanel@sfusd.edu for additional information.

Home & Hospital Instruction 

Home & Hospital Instruction (HHI) is a short-term instructional program designed to provide limited instruction to students who are unable to attend school temporarily for  health reasons.   HHI is available to students with and without IEPs.  The student remains enrolled at their school of assignment.   Applications are submitted to hhi@sfusd.edu.  The physician section should include a diagnosis, and reasons why the student is unable to attend school with appropriate supports. It should include a start and end date, of no more than 90 days.  HHI can be extended, if necessary, through an additional application.

If HHI is being requested for psychological reasons, an additional application should be submitted from a psychiatrist or licensed psychologist who is treating the student. This application is in addition to the main application.   This folder includes the forms listed below:

  • Application for Home & Hospital Instruction
  • Attending  Psychiatrist_Psychologist Statement
  • Release of Information     
  • Request for Extension  

HHI will not be approved for a student that will be home for less than 3 weeks. The school of record is responsible for coordinating curricula  for the student and ensuring continuity of educational services, while a student is receiving HHI.  All HHI services will conclude by the end of the school year.  A new application  will be required for the following year.

Students generally receive 5 hours per/week of instruction.   Instructional hours, and related services if applicable, for students with IEPs are determined by the IEP team.  Most  instruction is provided remotely.

HHI is not an alternative education program.  It is designed as a temporary service, with the intent of maintaining the continuity of the student’s instructional program during a temporary disability.  HHI does not replace, over an extended period of time, the regularly required instructional program.

For more information, please refer to the Home & Hospital Instruction Handbook.

A Private Tutor may teach students. The tutor must have a valid California teaching credential for the grade level being taught, and instruction must be in the courses of study required in the public schools. Tutoring must be provided for at least three hours per day, between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., and for at least 175 days per calendar year. (See CA Education Code sections 48200 and 48224.) The affidavit required of a private school is not required of a tutor.

If you are thinking that you would like the student to earn a high school diploma from a regular public school, please note that not all public schools will accept transfer credits from a tutor. Most public high schools only accept transfer credits from another accredited high school.

In California, there are several ways that parents educate their children at home: through an existing private school, through a public charter or independent study program, and in many instances by opening their own private home based school and filing the Private School Affidavit (PSA) with the California Department of Education (CDE) pursuant to Education Code 33190.

Various Charter Schools specializing in specific areas and grades are open for enrollment.  Charter schools are granted charters by the San Francisco Board of Education, but each charter school has its own application and enrollment process.  For a list of charter schools, you may call the Office of Charter Schools at (415) 355-7323.

Interdistrict Enrollment is an option if you wish to attend a public school outside of the San Francisco Unified School District.  However, the two school districts must agree to this arrangement (releasing the student from San Francisco and accepting the student at another school district).  (See Handbook Section 3.8.8)


See the full Handbook and downloadable, translated PDFs at sfusd.edu/Handbook.

This page was last updated on July 12, 2024