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Community Day Schools Program Summary

Information on Community Day Schools purpose, services, outcomes, funding, students served, and results.


Legislation enacted in 1995 established the requirement 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 during the expulsion period. The same legislation authorized school districts to establish community day schools to serve these, and other at-risk/at-promise students. Subsequent legislation, in 1998, extended the authorization to also allow county offices of education to establish community day schools although that authorization for county offices has since been repealed.


Students are expected to participate in academic programs that include high-level expectations from staff and students, and that are comparable to those available to students of similar age in the school district. The 360-minute minimum instructional day includes academic programs that provide challenging curriculum and individual attention to student learning modalities and abilities. Community day school programs also focus on the development of pro-social skills and student self-esteem and resiliency. Community day schools are intended to have low student-teacher ratios. Students benefit from learning support services that include school counselors and psychologists, academic and vocational counselors, and student discipline personnel. Students also receive collaborative services from county offices of education, law enforcement, probation, and human services agency personnel who work with at-risk youth.

A successful community day school program is one that results in improved self- image and resiliency, acquisition of better skills for scholastic success, and increased ability to assume responsibility for their own learning and behavior in the regular school program. Educators teaching in community day schools are challenged to develop sensitivity to the entire spectrum of students' unique needs and potential, as well as the unsupportive and poorly matched educational practices, and lack of supports, that may have contributed to causing the problem situation.

Laws specific to community day schools are in Education Code (EC) sections 48660-48666.


The desired outcome is fully engaged students who are learning in a manner best suited to their needs. This will also result in:

  • Closing the achievement gap
  • Decreasing the dropout rate
  • Increasing the graduation rate

Students Served

Community day schools serve:

  • Expelled students
  • Students referred by a School Attendance Review Board or probation
  • High-risk youth referred through a district-level process who need a separate setting that is better matched to their academic, social, and emotional development needs than what can be provided in a traditional school setting.

Individualized Learning Plan

Assignment to a community day school is best made in accordance with an Individualized Learning Plan (ILP) developed for this student. The ILP should include and specify all of the following:

  1. The relevant learning academic, social and emotional strengths of the student.
  2. The relevant learning academic, social and emotional needs of the student.
  3. The plan for meeting each of these needs, including measurable goals and objectives for success and the support services that will be provided to the student by the school or district.

Returning to Their Original Educational Program

  1. Students may be eligible to return to their original educational program when they have met the goals and objectives of their ILP.
  2. The Coordinator of Pupil Services should meet with the parent/guardian of the student and the student per the district’s policies and procedures, which is often no later than the end of the semester, to review measurable progress towards meeting the goals and objectives of the ILP. The parent/guardian may designate a representative such as a counselor, social worker or other community member to attend the meeting.
  3. As the student exits from the community day school, an exit plan should be in place to continue monitoring and support of the student. It should also be clear to the student and educators that the community day school staff who have gotten to know the student will remain available as ongoing resources.


Although the Educational Options Office does not have specific reports on the efficacy of community day schools, it has prepared a research paper and compendium of resources entitled Zero Dropouts for California. This paper contains information regarding the dropout crisis; recommendations for the State, counties, districts, and the California Department of Education; and an extensive bibliography of resources.

Questions: Dan Sackheim | | 916-445-5595 
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, April 4, 2023