Neighborhood Schools and Enrollment Options

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



Do I need to apply to enroll in my neighborhood school?

Students can enroll at their neighborhood school without applying to School Choice. School Choice applications are only necessary if you want your child to attend a school other than your neighborhood school, or if you reside outside of SDUSD boundaries.

How do I reach someone in the Neighborhood Schools and Enrollment Options Office?

You can reach us by telephone at 619-260-2410.  Our goal is to return calls within 24 hours.  (Due to staffing limitations, it may take longer to respond during busy periods). You can also submit your questions using our online Enrollment Options contact form and receive an email response.

How do I obtain my child’s student ID?

If you are unable to locate your child’s student ID on a Progress Report, you can ask the current school or on the School choice application webpage, select “Is your child new to the district?”  This will allow you to submit without an ID number. We will update the ID for you. Due to privacy restrictions, our office is unable to provide student IDs over the phone or via email.

Choice Enrollment Applications

Does it matter when I apply?

You must apply during the designated application period.  The process is not a “first come, first served,” so there is no urgency to be first to apply. A family that applies on the first day has no advantage over a family that applies on the last day just because they applied earlier.  However, School Choice applications received after the deadline will be processed in the date and time order they are received.

Why was the Choice application period changed?

San Diego Unified School District has aligned its Choice application process with other San Diego County districts and large urban school districts by modifying the submission window dates and timeline.  This will assist schools with enrollment stability and master planning.  It should be noted that families who are new to the district can apply for Choice at any time.

I don’t have a working computer.  Where can I go to apply online?

You can apply online at your neighborhood school, the local library, and in the Neighborhood Schools and Enrollment Options office. You may also access the Choice application on your smartphone or similar device.

Can I use my child’s grandparents’ or other relative’s address on the application?

No, you may not use a relative’s address. You must use your child’s resident address, which is defined as where the child sleeps on school nights. 

My ex-spouse and I share custody of our child.  Can we list both addresses to apply for School Choice?

No, only one address may be used; your child’s neighborhood school will be based on the address listed on the Choice application.

How are students selected for enrollment at a school?

Students are selected through an unbiased, random computerized lottery system, utilizing a priority structure. Enrollment is based on space available at each grade level. For details see: Enrollment Priorities.

How is available space at the school determined?

Our district’s instructional Facilities Planning Department determines capacity for nonresident students at each school by grade level, using past enrollment data, information regarding community growth or development, and facility capacity.  This is reviewed with the principal and school staff. The information is used to determine the available seats at each grade level for choice enrollment. (See School Options Applicants vs Acceptances for a data sampling.)

What priority system is in place for Choice?

California Education Code only requires one level of priority (sibling pre-enrolled), but SDUSD has 7 levels of priority.  The most heavily used by applicants are: 1. Magnet continuity, 2. Sibling pre-enrolled in the school of Choice, 3. Parent is a district employee in the school cluster, and 4. Non-resident child is enrolled in the site’s preschool program. After these, priorities are, in order: 5 Neighborhood school does not offer GATE, 6. Students currently enrolled in an Open Enrollment Act school, 7 General application and 8 Non-district residents.

Will the younger sibling of my child have “sibling priority” in the Choice lottery if my older child is graduating or moving on to the next school level?

No, sibling priority only applies when the siblings will be attending the same school at the same time.

Will my concurrently applying children have “sibling priority” in the Choice lottery?  If one is accepted, will they both be accepted?

No, concurrently applying children do not receive any special priority, unless the siblings are multiples (twins, triplets).  Multiples submit only one application for the group.  If one child is accepted and another is not, you may wish to consider the neighborhood school, where siblings are guaranteed enrollment.

If my child is attending our neighborhood school, but we move or plan to move, will my child’s Choice application have priority?

No, there is no priority for continuing pupils who move out of a school’s attendance area.

I need to enroll my child in the after-school Prime Time program but can’t do so until I hear whether she is accepted at one of our Choice schools. I’m afraid there won’t be any openings for her if I wait too long. What should I do?

Your child is always guaranteed a seat at the school of residence. You can contact your neighborhood school to begin the enrollment process and apply for the before and after school care while you are waiting to see if you are accepted into any of your Choice schools.

I applied last year and enrolled my child into one of the Choice schools. Do I need to apply again?

Once enrolled in your school of choice, you do not need to apply again to remain at the school. The only exception is if you move outside of the school district.  In this case, you must then reapply as a student from outside the district and submit an approved Interdistrict Attendance Permit from your resident school district.

I applied last year and my child was not enrolled in any of the Choice schools I requested.  Do I need to apply again?

If you are still interested in a choice school you will need to apply again. Each school year’s applications are processed separately.

I heard that if I didn’t get into the school I applied for that I can just go there on the first day and try to enroll. Is this true?

Only families new to the district may present themselves at a school to enroll on a space available basis. Choice applicants who did not get selected may not circumvent the process and enroll on or following the first day. 

I am applying for all my children to enroll at the same school.  Is there sibling priority if one is offered enrollment?

No, each student is a separate applicant. Sibling priority is only valid at the time of application for siblings of students who are already enrolled at the school for next year.

How does my child receive sibling priority?

You must apply for sibling priority.  There is no sibling priority for applications submitted after deadline. You must have one child already enrolled at the school and continuing in the next year, and the children must reside in the same household (this includes step-siblings and children of domestic partners residing in the same household).

I am applying for all of my children to attend the same school.  Can I put all of the children on one application?

No, you must submit separate applications for each child, unless they are twins or triplets.  Multiples are submitted on one application.

I don’t want my children to go to the neighborhood schools. One of my children was accepted into a Choice school but other was not.  Isn’t there any way to have them in the same school?

No, in order for a sibling to receive sibling priority, the sibling currently attending the school must also be enrolled at the school requested during the same year as the applicant student.  Siblings are guaranteed concurrent enrollment only in the neighborhood school.

If I do not get my first choice school, will I get one of my other school options?

It depends on space available at the second and third Choice school. Some schools cannot offer enrollment to all students who apply. If the school reaches capacity with the first Choice requests, the school cannot take any more students on their second and third choice lists. See the chart that shows how many first choice students each school offered enrollment to for the current year.

Do I have a better chance of being selected for my first choice school if I only make one school choice instead of three?

No, the number of school requests is not a factor in the selection process for the first choice school.

Is there a way to find out what the chances are of being selected for my first choice school?

There is a published list of rates of acceptance on the Neighborhood Schools and Enrollment Options webpage. This list tells you the percentage of accepted applicants for all schools and is a good tool to reference to predict if your child will get into the school of Choice.

If I apply to charter schools will it impact my selections?

No, charter school applications are separate and kept at the charter school.  SDUSD’s Choice process does not include Charter schools located within our district boundaries.

My child’s application was submitted late and my selections were numbered 4, 5 and 6. What does that mean and how will my child’s application be included in the Choice process?

Late applications will not be processed in the Choice lottery. (Late applications with first, second and third choices are numbered 4, 5 and 6 to differentiate from “on time applications.”).  These have been ranked in the computer system by time/date submission only and will be released to schools if space becomes available.

My child was not accepted in any of the Choice schools applied for.  What can I do?

Your child is guaranteed enrollment in the neighborhood school.  Occasionally a family will apply to only highly desired and impacted schools and this can result in no Choice school being offered. You can apply again in the following fall for the next school year.  There is a published list of rates of acceptance on the Neighborhood Schools and Enrollment Options webpage. This list tells you the percentage of accepted applicants for all schools and is a good tool to reference to predict if your child will get into the school of Choice.

I did not know about the Choice application deadline.  Can I still apply for Choice?

Only families new to the district may apply for Choice after the deadline. This includes incoming Kindergarten students, those transferring from a charter or private school or another school district. The Choice process is highly advertised by the district on our website, as well as via school newsletters, phone messages, and a district-wide mailing of the Enrollment Guide to all families. If you still wish to apply to a different school you may do so in the following fall for the next school year.

My school does not have full day Transitional Kindergarten (TK) and I want my child to attend full day TK.  Does my child’s application have priority?

No.  There is no priority for residents of schools with half-day TK.

I would like to apply for my child to attend a visual and performing arts Magnet school.  Is an audition required in addition to submitting the Choice application?

San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts (SDSCPA) is the only visual and performing arts Magnet school that requires all incoming grades 6-12 students to audition after submitting a Choice application as part of the selection process.

My child was accepted via Choice into a K-8 school in Kindergarten and is now in 5th grade.  Since the school is K-8, do I have to reapply through Choice for my child to continue attending the school through the middle school grades?

No, you do not need to reapply.  Your child is entitled to continue on to the next level school in the Choice feeder pattern.  In this case, your child will remain at the same school since it is a K-8 school.

I am the parent of twins.  Do I need to submit separate applications for each twin?

No, twins and other multiples are processed together on one application.  Please note that the confirmation emails and other communications may only reference the first child entered on the application.

Choice Enrollment Notifications

When and how will I know that my child is being offered enrollment?

Acceptance letters for 1st Choice schools are sent from the Neighborhood Schools and Enrollment Options Office in late February.  Schools will also receive the names of students selected for enrollment and will also contact families either by telephone, email, or text message. (If you wish to receive text messages, you must opt-in via School Messenger.)  It is therefore very important to provide your email address in the Choice application.

If I decline the offer of enrollment, what other options will I have?

If you do not accept the offer of Choice enrollment from the district, your option will be your neighborhood school. Occasionally, space becomes available in special programs and our office works to match applicants to schools with space.

What do I need to do if I receive a notice of acceptance?

Please contact the school ASAP to confirm your child’s enrollment and initiate the registration process. This must be done prior to the published deadline and there will be no exceptions.

What if I miss the published deadline to contact the school?

Your child will lose his/her seat at the school.

I tried to contact the school but no one has responded to me.  What do I do?

Present yourself at the school with your acceptance letter prior to the published deadline to verify that you wish to enroll your child. You may also contact our office via our Enrollment Options contact form or by phone at 619-260-2410 prior to the deadline to notify us that you are having difficulty contacting the school.

My email or home address changed after I submitted the Choice application and I might not receive a notification letter.  What can I do?

Please contact our office at 619-260-2410 or via our Enrollment Options contact form to provide your current email or mailing address.

What if my child was not accepted into the First Choice School? Is there still a chance he/she will be accepted?

As schools process their first choice lists and verify that students will enroll, there is a chance a parent will decline the offer, and that will create a vacant seat. In this case, the school would contact our office for additional names, which would be released in order and only to fill the vacancy created by a decline.  Although not likely, it is possible to receive your first Choice selection if there are declines of enrollment.

Will the schools have wait lists? Can I find out where my child is on the wait list?

As vacant seats are created by declines, our office will release names in order generated by the Choice lottery process. Wait lists are not be released to schools. Although you will be notified if your child has been waitlisted.  It will not be possible to find out where your child is specifically in the system.

My children were accepted into different schools.  I want them to go to the same school.  What can I do?

You have the option to enroll all of your children in the same school if they attend their neighborhood school.

I don’t want my children to go to the neighborhood school. Only one was accepted into a Choice school. Isn’t there any way to have them in the same school?

You can apply next school year for the following year for the sibling who did not get in and have sibling priority status. If it is possible to enroll all your children in the same school of Choice, without displacing a pupil with higher priority, our office will work with you on a case by case basis.

I did not receive any notification regarding acceptance or waitlist status for my child.  What does that mean?

You may have not correctly submitted your application, or you may have incorrectly entered your contact information on the Choice application.  Please contact our office so that we can research.

If I move or change my mind about the first Choice school I selected, will I be notified if my child is next on the wait list, and offered the seat?

After acceptance notices are sent in February, if vacancies occur between the end of the traditional school year and through the summer, families will be contacted and offered seats in the school of Choice. It is anticipated that the majority of Choice enrollment will be completed and stabilized by the last day of the traditional school year.

My child was not accepted in any of the Choice schools applied for.  What can I do?

You may enroll you child in your neighborhood school.

Will I receive notification if my child gets accepted into the 2nd or 3rd Choice school?

Yes, you will receive an email notice if your child is accepted into any of your choice schools. 

Who produces the Choice lists? What kind of process is used to generate the lists?

A specialized computer program is used to run the random, weighted, unbiased lottery for Choice. The computer program generates the Choice lists, which are then provided to the school sites.

What do I need to do if I change my mind after the start of the school year and want my child to return to her neighborhood school?

You will need to submit a Transfer Request to Return to Neighborhood School form to transfer from the Choice school after the first four weeks of school and have the agreement of the resident school principal. There must be space available at the neighborhood school for the student to return. You do not need to complete the Transfer Request form during the first four weeks of school; and your child can return to the neighborhood school without approval or paperwork.

If my child returns to her neighborhood school, would she be able to change again back to the Choice school later in the school year?

Once a student returns to the neighborhood school, he/she will not be allowed to change back to the Choice school during that school year.  You are welcome to apply for Choice again during the Choice application period for the next school year.

Interdistrict Attendance Permits

We live out of district.  When should we submit an Interdistrict Attendance Permit?

You must first apply onlinefor Choice during the application period for the schools you are interested in. If and when your child is offered enrollment, you will then need to obtain an approved Interdistrict Attendance Permit  (IAP) from your resident district. The permit must then be received by the district to the Neighborhood Schools and Enrollment Options office for final approval and acceptance of enrollment.  The Director of Neighborhood Schools and Enrollment Options is the approving district representative.  San Diego County school districts begin accepting and processing IAPs in March of the prior school year.  Please note that IAPs must be processed at NSEO and not at the school site.  School principals are not authorized to sign interdistrict permits.

Once I have an Interdistrict Attendance Permit, do I need to renew each year?

Each district maintains its own policy, so you will need to check with your resident school district. San Diego Unified’s policy states that as long as your child attends the same SDUSD school, you do not need to renew an Interdistrict Attendance Permit each year.  It must be reapplied for at each level (elementary, middle, and high school).   However, in order to maintain an Interdistrict Attendance Permit, your child must have satisfactory attendance, citizenship, and academic grades. The District may revoke the permit if any of these are unsatisfactory.

My child attends an elementary school with an Interdistrict Attendance Permit, but will be attending middle school next year. Do we need a new permit in order for my child to move on to the corresponding middle school?

Yes, you will need to renew the Interdistrict Attendance Permit if your child changes school level (elementary to middle; middle to high) or you move to a different resident district.


Will there be a school bus to the school we are applying for?

There is no transportation to neighborhood schools or for School Choice/Open Enrollment Act programs. Parents must make their own transportation arrangements. Bus transportation is limited to the VEEP, Magnet, and Special Education programs only. SDUSD also offers very limited intracluster transportation in select neighborhoods where pedestrian safety is a concern (i.e.: crossing freeways). These programs, however, have specific transportation limitations. For the most up-to-date information, please contact the Transportation department at 858-496-8460 or visit the Transportation department website.

Is transportation provided if I apply through VEEP (Voluntary Enrollment Exchange Program)?

Students enrolled at Choice schools through VEEP are entitled to transportation, though transportation is not guaranteed, and there is a fee if your child does not qualify for Free/Reduced Lunch. Certain criteria first need to be met in order for transportation to be made available to VEEP students for any given school. Specifically: 1) There must be a minimum ridership of 25 students.

I choiced my child into a Magnet elementary school, and transportation is provided When my child articulates to the feeder middle school (in the same cluster), will transportation continue to be provided?

As long as the transportation criteria (noted above) are met, transportation is only offered to students who are enrolled at a Magnet or another Choice school through VEEP. If the feeder middle (or high) school is not a Magnet school, you will not receive transportation. Likewise, unless you live in a VEEP pattern to the feeder middle (or high) school, transportation will not be provided.

Program Improvement

What happened to Program Improvement School Choice (PISC)?

Program Improvement (PI) was developed as a result of No Child Left Behind legislation as a means to identify schools that did not display annual increased test scores in all demographic areas of the student population.

NCLB and PI were both replaced in December of 2015 with new legislation called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). NCLB and the related PI ended July 1, 2016, but school districts will honor Choice applications with PI priority that were already submitted in 2015-16. Implications for the new legislation are still to be determined. You can find the most current information on ESSA and the end of PI on the California Department of Education website. Our district will not be accepting future applications via PI status.