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USCO Required Actions

Guidance in administering various aspects of the Unsafe Schools Choice Option (USCO) requirements.

California Department of Education Required Actions Regarding "Persistently Dangerous" Schools

The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) released its Unsafe School Choice Option (USCO) Non-Regulatory Guidance - May 2004 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) that provides direction to states in administering various aspects of the USCO requirements.

To help facilitate implementation and ensure statewide compliance with the USCO requirements, local educational agencies (LEAs) are encouraged to thoroughly review the guidance provisions.

Actions Required of LEAs for Schools Identified as "Persistently Dangerous"

The USCO Non-Regulatory Guidance indicates that an LEA that has one or more schools identified as "persistently dangerous," must in a timely manner:

  1. Notify parents of each student attending the school that the State has identified the school as persistently dangerous (Sections C-1 and C-2, Guidance) - generally, an example of timely notification to parents or guardians is within ten school days from the time that the LEA learns that the school has been identified as persistently dangerous.
  2. Offer students the opportunity to transfer to a safe public school, including a safe public charter school, within the LEA (Sections C-1 and C-2, Guidance) - an example of a timely offer to students of the opportunity to transfer generally is within twenty school days from the time the LEA learns that the school has been identified as persistently dangerous (Note: parental notification regarding the status of the school and the offer to transfer students may be made simultaneously).
  3. For those students who accept the offer, complete the transfer - transfers of students generally should occur within thirty school days (Section C-2, Guidance).

LEAS are encouraged to take into account the needs and preferences of the affected students and parents for students opting to transfer (Section C-9, Guidance). If there is not another school within the area served by the LEA for transferring students, the LEA is encouraged, but not required, to explore other appropriate options such as an agreement with a neighboring LEA to accept transfer students (Section C-11, Guidance).

Please note that students who have been assigned to a particular school, e.g., an alternative school or juvenile court school, due to the students' violent or criminal behavior, or for disciplinary reasons sufficiently serious to justify placement in a particular learning environment, are not entitled to this school transfer option.  

Additionally, LEAs must initiate the following actions:

  1. Develop a corrective action plan and submit it to CDE for approval (Sections C-1, C-2, and C-3, Guidance) - an example of timely development of a corrective action plan generally is within twenty school days from the time the LEA learns that the school has been identified as persistently dangerous.
  2. Implement the plan in a timely manner (Section C-1, Guidance).

Transfer Option for Victims of Violent Crimes

In accordance with the USCO requirements, any student attending a California public elementary or secondary school who becomes a victim of a violent crime while in or on the school grounds must be allowed to attend a safe public elementary school or secondary school within the LEA, including a public charter school.  

To help assure compliance with this USCO requirement, it is imperative for each COE and school district to review its policies to ensure that its governing board has adopted a policy that implements the victim transfer option. In applying this option, LEAs should consider the specific circumstances of incidents on a case-by-case basis and consult with local law enforcement agencies, as appropriate, in determining whether a student is the victim of a violent criminal offense as provided for in the California Penal Code. Primary examples of violent criminal offenses in the Penal Code include attempted murder, battery with serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, rape, sexual battery, robbery, extortion, and hate crimes. Policies that allow the victim transfer option were required to be in effect at the start of the 2003-2004 school year. Section E of the USCO Non-Regulatory Guidance provides additional information to help LEAs administer the victim transfer option. Each LEA should maintain appropriate records for at least three years for audit purposes to demonstrate compliance with this federal requirement, i.e., policy statements, procedures, and school transfer records of student victims.

Actions Required of LEAs for Students Who Have Been Victims of a Violent Criminal Offense

The USCO Non-Regulatory Guidance (Section E-1, Guidance) indicates that an LEA should offer, generally within ten calendar days, an opportunity transfer to a safe public school (including public charter schools) within the LEA to any student who has become the victim of a violent criminal offense while in or on the grounds of a public school that the student attends.

LEAs are encouraged to take into account the needs and preferences of the affected students and parents for student victims opting to transfer (Section E-3, Guidance). If there is not another school within the area served by an LEA for transferring students, the LEA is encouraged, but not required, to explore other appropriate options such as an agreement with a neighboring LEA to accept transfer students (Section E-4, Guidance).

Please note that some students are assigned to a particular school (e.g., an alternative school or juvenile court school) due to the students' violent or criminal behavior, or for disciplinary reasons sufficiently serious to justify placement in a particular learning environment. For students placed in such a setting and who become victims of violent crimes, LEAs are encouraged to the extent possible to move them to a safer environment.

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Questions: Stephanie Papas | spapas@cde.ca.gov | 916-445-8441 
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