Guidelines for Establishing a Community Day SchoolThe general guidelines for establishing a community day school include Checklist, Assignment of Students, Minimum School Day, Approval of Attendance Accounting, Location, Facilities, and Countywide Plan.
The governing board of a school district is authorized to establish one or more community day schools (California Education Code [EC] Section 48660 ).
A district establishing a community day schools should apply for a county-district-school code. Forms and information about this process can be obtained at Schools and Districts or by calling 916-327-4014.
Checklist for Establishing a Community Day School
- Put together a planning team; include students as team members.
- Review Law for Community Day Schools.
- Determine eligible students and procedures for assignment to the community day school (EC Section 48662[b]).
- Identify the grade span for the community day school (EC Section 48660).
- Check the minimum-day requirements for the community day schools (EC Section 48663).
- Identify the site location of the community day school (EC Section 48661). For additional information about facilities, contact CDE School Facilities Planning Division at 916-327-7148.
- The local board must vote to establish the community day school (EC Section 48660).
- Adopt a policy that provides procedures for involuntary transfer to the community day school (local board action, EC Section 48662[a]).
- Obtain CDE approval for the community day school attendance accounting system. It is recommended that a daily schedule be available for review during the approval process. For approval contact Ruthann Munsterman, School Fiscal Services Division, at 916-324-6178 or by e-mail at RMunsterman@cde.ca.gov.
- Review funding opportunities and develop and adopt the community day school's budget as distinct for that school, including full-time-equivalent personnel.
- Develop community partnerships (e.g., services to students and families, resources, mentors).
- Identify the staff and related positions (teaching, learning support, and administrative personnel).
- Obtain district cooperation with county office of education, law enforcement, probation, and human services agencies working with at-risk youths (EC Section 48660.1).
- Identify and outline the curriculum (academic, pro-social skills/resiliency/asset building, and school-to-career). See 40 Developmental Assets as researched by the Search Institute.
- Inform the county office of education of plans to establish the community day school and provide a copy of the program description to the county office for review (EC Section 48926, educational services for expelled pupils).
- Submit the Core Elements for Describing a Community Day School to Dan Sackheim, community day school consultant.
- Establish a safe school/community environment that is physically and emotionally safe, well disciplined, and conducive to learning.
- Review the General Waiver Authority to provide flexibility in a school. (EC sections 33050-33053)
Grade Spans of Community Day Schools
The allowable grade spans for community day schools as set forth in EC Section 48660 are as follows:
...A community day school may serve pupils in any of kindergarten and grades one to six, inclusive, or any of grades seven to twelve, inclusive, or the same or "lesser included range" of grades as may be found in any individual middle or junior high school operated by the district. If a school district is organized as a district that serves kindergarten and grades one to eight, inclusive, but no higher grades, the governing board of the school district may establish a community day school for any [of] kindergarten and grades one to eight, inclusive, upon a two-thirds vote of the board....
EC Section 48660 also states that it is the intent of the Legislature, that the governing board of a school district operating a community day school for any of kindergarten and grades one to eight, inclusive, separate younger pupils from older pupils within that school, to the extent possible.
The State Board of Education (SBE) has considered and approved some applications for waivers of the statutory grade span limitations for community day schools. The circumstances for need, and provisions to maintain the safety and separation of younger and older students, are carefully considered as part of the waiver approval process.
Assignment of Students to a Community Day School
EC Section 48662 provides that the only students who may be assigned to a community day school are those who have been:
- Expelled for any reason
- Referred by probation pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code Section 300 or 602
- Referred to a community day school by a School Attendance Review Board (SARB) or other district-level referral process
EC Section 48662(b)(4) further specifies that, unless there is an agreement that the county superintendent of schools shall serve any of these categories of students, assignment of students to community day schools shall be made in the following priority order:
- Students expelled for mandatory expulsion offenses (EC Section 48915[d])
- Students expelled for any other reasons
- All other students
Districts that establish community day schools must adopt policies that provide procedures for the involuntary transfer of students to those schools (EC Section 48662). Such policies necessarily have to provide for appropriate due process.
EC Section 48916.1(a) provides that, at the time an expulsion of a student is ordered, the governing board of the school district shall ensure that an education program is provided to the student for the period of the expulsion. Community day schools were created to provide districts with an educational placement option for expelled students who previously could not be served within the district (those students expelled for any of the offenses listed in subdivision [a] or [c] of Section 48915).
The California Department of Education (CDE) strongly encourages school districts to establish and operate schools and programs, including community day schools, that provide appropriate services to those students who have a history of negative behavior. Doing so allows greater continuity with both previous and subsequent educational placements. EC Section 48900.5 provides as follows:
48900.5.(a) Suspension, including supervised suspension as described in Section 48911.1, shall be imposed only when other means of correction fail to bring about proper conduct. A school district may document the other means of correction used and place that documentation in the pupil’s record, which may be accessed pursuant to Section 49069.7. However, a pupil, including an individual with exceptional needs, as defined in Section 56026, may be suspended, subject to Section 1415 of Title 20 of the United States Code, for any of the reasons enumerated in Section 48900 upon a first offense, if the principal or superintendent of schools determines that the pupil violated subdivision (a), (b), (c), (d), or (e) of Section 48900 or that the pupil’s presence causes a danger to persons.
(b) Other means of correction include, but are not limited to, the following:
(1) A conference between school personnel, the pupil’s parent or guardian, and the pupil.
(2) Referrals to the school counselor, psychologist, social worker, child welfare attendance personnel, or other school support service personnel for case management and counseling.
(3) Study teams, guidance teams, resource panel teams, or other intervention-related teams that assess the behavior, and develop and implement individualized plans to address the behavior in partnership with the pupil and the pupil’s parents.
(4) Referral for a comprehensive psychosocial or psychoeducational assessment, including for purposes of creating an individualized education program, or a plan adopted pursuant to Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. Sec. 794(a)).
(5) Enrollment in a program for teaching prosocial behavior or anger management.
(6) Participation in a restorative justice program.
(7) A positive behavior support approach with tiered interventions that occur during the schoolday on campus.
(8) After school programs that address specific behavioral issues or expose pupils to positive activities and behaviors, including, but not limited to, those operated in collaboration with local parent and community groups.
(9) Any of the alternatives described in Section 48900.6.
Minimum School Day
The minimum school day for community day schools is 360 minutes of instructional time (EC Section 48663[a]). Without a waiver from the SBE, there is no option for a shorter day. Administrators should be aware of three key points:
- The minimum-day requirement applies to every student enrolled in the community day school unless otherwise specified in a special education individualized education program (IEP).
- The minimum-day requirement applies to every school day.
- Since breaks, recess, and lunch are not considered instructional time, they do not count toward the minimum day.
The SBE has supported only one type of waiver of the statutory 360 minute minimum instructional day. This has involved when a district requested to periodically reduce the length of an instructional day in order to provide for community day school educators to participate in professional learning community activities to benefit the community day school students. The condition attached to such a waiver has been that all other instructional days on which professional learning community meetings are not held be extended above the statutory 360 minute so that no net instructional time for students is reduced. The conditions have not allowed for merely extending the school year, as students whose instructional time was reduced earlier in the year might no longer be enrolled in the community day school by the end of the year.
Minimum Instructional Day Must Be Within the Community Day School
The minimum school day in a community day school is 360 minutes of classroom instruction. This requirement means the entire minimum school day must be provided within the community day school, in contrast with a partial assignment in another school or program. As with other schools, field trips are allowable.
Minimum Instructional Day Provided by a Certificated District Employee
The minimum school day in a community day school is 360 minutes of classroom instruction provided under the immediate supervision and control of a certificated employee of the district reporting the attendance of the pupils for apportionment funding (EC Section 46300[a]). A district cannot "contract out" this role.
Minimum Day for Students with Exceptional Needs
If a student with exceptional needs enrolls in a community day school and has an IEP that specifies a school day of less than six hours for the student, the day length specified in the student's IEP shall also be the student's "minimum day" consistent with the provisions of EC Section 46307, for purposes of calculating the student's average daily attendance.
No Instruction Through the Independent Study Strategy
Independent study may not be utilized as a means of providing any part of the minimum instructional day in a community day school (EC Section 48663[d]).
Approval of Attendance Accounting System
Community day school attendance must be maintained
and reported in clock hours for each school day (EC sections 48663 and 48664). As stipulated
in the Attendance Accounting and Reporting in California Public
Schools manual published by the CDE, school districts
individually obtain CDE approval for their attendance accounting
systems. To request approval, each district should submit a copy
of the attendance accounting system for its community day school
School Fiscal Services Division
California Department of Education
1430 N Street, Suite 3800
Sacramento, CA 95814
Location of Community Day Schools
Community day schools are separate schools, not merely separate programs within schools, and are further intended to be located apart from other schools. The requirement for a separate location reflects the Legislature's priority that community day schools be a placement option for expelled students who have been removed from other school settings.
EC Section 48661(a)(1), (2), and (3) provides that a community day school may not be situated on the same site as an elementary, middle, junior high, comprehensive senior high, opportunity, or continuation school, except under the following circumstances:
When the governing board of a school district with 2,500 or fewer units of average daily attendance reported for the most recent second principal apportionment certifies by a two-thirds vote of its membership that satisfactory alternative facilities are not available for a community day school.
When the governing board of a school district that is organized as a district to serve kindergarten and grades one to eight, inclusive, but no higher grades, certifies by a two-thirds vote of its membership that satisfactory alternative facilities are not available for a community day school.
When the governing board of a school district that desires to operate a community day school to serve any of kindergarten and grades one to six, inclusive, but no higher grades, certifies by a two-thirds vote of its membership that satisfactory alternative facilities are not available for a community day school.
Consistent with the foregoing discussion, if a district establishes a community day school on the same site as another school, the district should make diligent efforts toward achieving maximum separation of the schools. The findings justifying a local governing board's certification necessarily require a search of available facilities. This search should encompass both district-owned properties and other locations.
The governing board certifications required by EC Section 48661 are valid for not more than one school year, but they may be renewed annually by a two-thirds vote of the governing board after an updated search.
The SBE has considered and approved some applications for waivers of the collocation prohibition for districts that did not meet any of the statutory exceptions on the basis of local board action, but certified by a two-thirds vote of its membership that satisfactory alternative facilities are not available for a community day school. The circumstances for need and provisions to maintain the safety and separation of the community day school students and the students enrolled in other schools are carefully considered as part of the waiver approval process.
The laws governing the use of buildings and sites for community day schools are complex. Key provisions include requirements pertaining to what are acceptable facilities for programs serving expelled students (including EC Section 17292.5) and to the lease of buildings for use as school buildings (including EC Section 17285). For information about these and other key provisions, as well as guidelines for site and facilities standards, such as site size and classroom size, contact the CDE, School Facilities Planning Division, at 916-327-7148. For information about structural requirements for school facilities, contact the California Department of General Services, Division of the State Architect, at 916-445-8100.
The decision to establish community day schools should be made within the larger context of the need to serve all expelled and other at-risk students in the school district and county.
Community day schools are an appropriate placement option for some, but not necessarily all, expelled students. They can also provide a structured and supervised environment for other students who have not been expelled but who would benefit from the preventive and rehabilitative emphases in these programs.
Each county superintendent of schools in a county that operates one or more county community schools, in conjunction with superintendents of the school districts within the county, must develop a plan for providing education services to all expelled students in that county (EC Section 48926). The required plans must, at a minimum, identify the following:
- Existing educational alternatives for expelled students
- Gaps in educational services to expelled students
- Strategies for filling those service gaps
- Alternative placements for students who are expelled and placed in community day schools programs but who fail to meet the terms and conditions of their rehabilitation plan or who pose a danger to other district students, as determined by their governing boards
The first set of plans was required to be submitted to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction by June 1997, with triennial updates required to follow. The most recent updates were submitted in 2018. However, district and county representatives are strongly encouraged to collaborate on amending their plan annually to ensure that it is comprehensive, up to date, and addresses educational placement options and support services for all expelled students. District and county personnel are also encouraged to collaborate in staff training and the identification of educational materials and service providers. For more information, see Countywide Plans for Expelled Students.