San Diego Unified School District
Choice of School



For the most part, your children will attend a public school near where you live. But if you wanted your child to attend another school that is not your designated neighborhood school, you can apply for admission elsewhere. Different reasons for applying to another school require that you apply through different channels:

  • PISC: If you happen to live in an area where a school isn't very good academically, then you can apply to another school which is doing better. A school is "not very good academically" if it has not made adequate yearly progress (AYP) for two consecutive years. According to the No child left Behind Act, you are, by law, allowed to enroll your child in another better school which has achieved its target goals.

    PISC stands for Program Improvement School Choice. A school which has not met its identified achievement targets is called a "Program Improvement" school.
    Priority is given to students who are lowest achieving and from low-income families. Transportation is offered to these students but restrictions apply.

    A school who is designated as Program Improvement may exit this title if it meets its target goals in subsequent years. Similarly, a school may be doing well, but then fail in their expected goals and become a Program Improvement school. Read more about PISC here.

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    Choice program San Diego
    The Academic Achievement Award is given to schools which decrease the achievement-gap between high and low-performing students.

  • Magnet: Some schools focus on a particular theme. For example Oak Park emphasizes musics; Spreckels encourages Spanish; and Webster encourages math & science. If you want your child to be in one of these "Magnet" schools then you apply through the Magnet program.

    Some Magnet schools have "continuity" which is to say that there may be a middle school and/or a high school with a similar theme. Other Magnet schools are stand-alone and do not have other schools of a similar theme. For example, Barnard (elementary), Dana (middle) and SD High Complex all have classes in Mandarin. On the other hand, John Muir is the only school which focus on Global Citizenship. School bus service has been cancelled for Magnet program due to budget cuts.

    A child who is admitted to a magnet school will have priority to be admitted into the next school level of the same theme (for example, from elementary to middle schools). Children who have siblings enrolled in a magnet school have priority of being admitted to
    the same magnet school. Next, priority is given to children who apply through the PISC program (see above). Priority is then given to general applicants and lastly, to applications from outside the SD district. Read more about magnet schools here.

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    Oak Park is a magnet school with emphasis on music.

  • VEEP: this is an exchange program where students may choose to attend different schools so as to experience different opportunities and cultures. Students can move within schools which participate in VEEP and are within certain geographical boundaries. VEEP stands for Voluntary Enrollment Exchange Program - some people may know it simply as being "bused in". See VEEP sending and receiving schools here and here.

    Students already in a VEEP school may continue to do so when they enter the next school level (middle school, high school); they do not need to reapply for admission. Transportation is provided with restrictions.

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    school buses San Diego
    2009 budget cuts cause school bus services to be canceled.

  • Open Enrollment Program: This program is a free for all. Everyone is allowed to apply to enter another school for no particular reason. Transportation is not provided. Admission is based on space availability and entry is not guaranteed. Once enrolled, the student can continue in that school and then progress to a higher level schools (middle school or high school) without re-application.

    Students who are tested as GATE (or Seminar) but are in a neighborhood school which does not provide GATE (or Seminar) program can apply to a school which does offer such programs. Application is through the Open Enrollment Program.

    Priority is given to:
    1. Students who are lowest achieving and from low-income families at Program Improvement schools.
    2. Students who graduate from one school and enter the next level school within the same area. they do not need to reapply via Open Enrollment Program.
    3. Students who have siblings already in the chosen school.
    4. Elementary gifted Cluster Program
    5. Everybody else in the district.
    6. Everybody else out of the district.
    Read more about Open Enrollment here. --> go back

  • Chartered School: Most chartered schools are created by a group of people who share a similar interest or philosophy. These schools offer parents another way of educating their children outside of the traditional public school system.

    Chartered schools are a part of the public school system and are given the resources and support similar to those of a regular public school. However, chartered school are exempt from many of the rules & regulations that govern regular public schools. It is believed that this autonomy allows chartered schools to create new & more efficient ways of educating students in order to achieve better results.

    For example, chartered schools must have a "School Accountability Report Card" but the contents of the report card may not follow the guidelines recommended by the California Department of Education. Similarly, student records, transcripts, articulation, and the diplomas are all governed by the chartered school and not by the state.

    In San Diego, a school is typically granted "chartered" status for five years. During this time, the school needs to demonstrate that their students progress as described in their "charter". If the students do not meet the goals listed on the school's charter, the "chartered" status may be revoked.

    To enroll in a chartered school, visit their web site for enrollment forms or contact the school directly. See a list of chartered schools within the San Diego Unified School District.

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