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Checklist: Application for a New School

Use of this checklist ensures that the alternative school of choice application meets the requirements of the law.

Preparing an Application for a New Alternative School of Choice

Before the governing board of a school district establishes a new school, it must ensure that the proposed school conforms to the California Department of Education's (CDE) Definition of a School. This is also true for alternative schools of choice (ASOC), which were established under California Education Code (EC) sections 58500–58512. Each ASOC must meet all the requirements of law, including:

  • All students and teachers are selected entirely from volunteers (EC Section 58503).
  • The school is maintained and funded by the school district at the same level of support as other educational programs for the same age level operated by the district (EC Section 58507).
  • The district annually evaluates the school and forwards the evaluations to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (EC Section 58510).

Before the CDE can assign a County-District-School (CDS) Code to a school, it must determine that the "school" is not a program, or set of programs. In order to determine whether a school is a school, the CDE needs independent evidence of the following submitted with the application for a CDS code for an alternative school of choice:

Requirements for Establishing an Alternative School of Choice

To establish a separate school as an ASOC, the local educational agency (LEA) shall provide evidence that (1) the school is a school, and (2) that the school has been established, as applicable. Regardless of whether Independent Study (IS) is offered through a program within a school or exclusively at a school site, IS has a number of conditions that must be met to generate funding in addition to the methodology used to determine average daily attendance. These requirements are evaluated through the annual audit guide process, during which external auditors follow audit procedures to determine whether LEAs are in compliance.

The CDE encourages LEAs to consult with their independent auditors and with their legal counsel to ensure compliance with IS EC requirements during the 2021–22 school year, in accordance with the new statutory provisions signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom as Assembly Bill 130 on July 9, 2021.

Evidence that the School is a School

  1. The governing board has taken action to establish the school. Note: Include the minutes of the governing board meeting indicating board action, and the materials submitted to the board for consideration of the proposal to establish a new school.
  2. The governing board has named the school or established a process by which the school will be named.
  3. The school has an appropriately credentialed administrator (usually a principal) who is responsible for all aspects of school administration (e.g., hiring staff, fiscal responsibility) and who is treated the same as other principals in the district (e.g., reports to the same district superintendent as other principals, attends meetings of principals, etc.). Note: The administrator may have other duties (e.g., principal of another school, district administrator) as long as he or she functions as the principal of the school as described above.
  4. The school has an approved budget as a separate school, and the budget structure is consistent with the budget structure of other schools operated by the district. Note: The budget of a comprehensive school must also be provided for comparison (EC Section 58507).
  5. The school has appropriately credentialed teachers and clerical support staff. Note: Provide a chart listing teachers by subject, grade level, and credential. Do not include teachers' names or other identifying information.
  6. A facility, consisting of one or more buildings, or an identified set of rooms, has been acquired, with a street address. Note: The school may share a site with another school or with administration buildings. For example, a school may share a facility with another school if the facility is used at different hours—an adult school with classes that meet at night and another school with classes that meet during the day.
  7. The school facility is "Field Act safe" or necessary exceptions have been obtained. (EC sections 17365–17374)
  8. Students are enrolled in the school, unless the school is in the last stages of formation (e.g., when a school facility is under construction and students will be enrolled as soon as it is completed and the school opens). Note: Do not include a list of students by name. Provide the projected student enrollment by grade level.
  9. School records are kept separately from those of other schools. Note: The school may share physical office space with a pre-existing school at the site but the school’s administrative and student records—personnel, budget, and student cumulative record ("cum") files—should be maintained in separate file cabinets or at least separate file drawers.
  10. The school implements a curriculum that fully meets state requirements as specified in the EC relating to required courses of study. Note: Include a letter from a district officer who certifies that the school will not provide an alternative curriculum.
  11. The school administers California statewide assessment tests to its students at the required grade levels. Note: Include a letter from a district officer who certifies that the school will administer statewide assessments. The certifications for items 10 and 11 may be included in one letter.

In addition to the above required information used by CDE staff to verify that the school is a school, the following evidence may be helpful in our review. The items in the following list are not required, but offer a guide to providing community access to your school and its program offerings:

Evidence that the School has Been Established (if applicable, provide a copy)

  1. The school is identified in a published list or directory of schools in the district, such as a roster with contact phone numbers for staff members. (Include a page with the school highlighted.)
  2. The school is listed as a school on the district's website. (Attach a copy of the web page showing the school.)
  3. Parents/guardians and students receive or have access to a description of the programs offered at the school. (Attach a copy of the cover page of the school’s student/parent handbook.)
  4. The school website or handbook lists policies regarding enrollment at the school. (Attach a page from the school’s policy handbook.)
  5. If applicable, the school website or other publications indicate that the school receives Title I funding. (Attach appropriate web page or page from the student/parent handbook.)
  6. The school has a school site council.
  7. For secondary schools, the school is in the process of seeking accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges External link opens in new window or tab. or has the intention to do so. (Attach a letter of intent or application.)
  8. For secondary schools, the school intends to submit its courses for University of California and California State University a–g subject area requirements External link opens in new window or tab. approval. (Attach a letter of intent or application.)
Questions:   Educational Options Office |
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, May 1, 2024
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