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 student, 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, reflects the culturally rich and diverse population of San Francisco.  The high school provides an alternative educational opportunity for students who have earned at least 60 high school credits.  Priority is given to those students who can graduate within the year.  Independent study allows students to continue their secondary education toward a high school diploma by attending school on a once-a-week basis for a minimum of 45 minutes per week in a 1:1 teacher/student ratio setting.  This program was established to meet the needs of students who need to work full or part-time, care for a child, participate in a professional training program (e.g. ballet), or other circumstances that would preclude them from attending school daily.

All students are expected to complete 35 hours of independent work every week which translates into 7 courses for 5 credits each.  The assignments may be completed at home, in the library, or at the school. 

Students may inquire about this program through their SFUSD high school counselor if they are currently enrolled, or at the Educational Placement Center.

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 Educational Placement Center at 555 Franklin St.  Students within SFUSD should discuss admission to a continuation school with their school counselor, or at the Office of Pupil Services.  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 is in special education, 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 SFUSD Office of Pupil Services at (415) 241-3030 or officeofpupilservices@sfusd.edu.

County Community Schools, administrative offices located at 727 Golden Gate provide a personalized school environment for students in grade 6-12; the school incorporates an integrated academic and behavioral support approach. Besides offering the traditional SFUSD curriculum, County Community Schools 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 SFUSD Office of Pupil Services and are enrolled for classes at our County Community facility.  Documents required for enrollment are the same as those described above.  Please contact the Office of Pupil Services at:  (415) 241-3030 or officeofpupilservices@sfusd.edu, for additional information.

Home & Hospital Instruction (HHI) will be provided if it is anticipated that a student will be unable to attend school temporarily for a period of four weeks or longer; the length and reason for confinement is determined by a licensed physician.  During this time of confinement, general education students will receive 2 hours per week of instruction and special education hours will be determined by the IEP team.  If it is anticipated that a student will be absent for a period less than four weeks, that student remains enrolled at their school of assignment, receiving homework assignments from that school.  For more information about specific eligibility requirements for this program, please contact the Homebound Education Program at (415) 759-2895.

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)

This page was last updated on January 11, 2023