Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
School Choice Questions
What is school choice?
School choice is the term used to describe a school system where families can choose to send their child to a school other than their neighborhood assigned school. Traditionally, students are assigned to their public school by the location of their family residence. School choice allows families to apply to attend the public school that best fits their child’s needs.
Is Oakland a school choice district?
Yes, Oakland families can choose to apply to attend either a traditional public school or a charter public school. Of the approximately 130 public schools in Oakland, 2/3 are district-run schools and 1/3 are charter public schools. Oakland Enrolls provides the charter application for most of the city’s charter public schools.
Why are there two separate applications to enroll in Oakland public schools - District (OUSD) and charters?
District schools (OUSD) have had a common application process for all of their schools for some time. Oakland Enrolls was created in 2016 as part of an effort to unify enrollment across the city, and thus far has successfully created a central application process across 95% of charter schools, making a one-stop shop for charter applications. Some believe that a single application for both charter and district public schools would simplify enrollment for all parents, especially those without the time, money, or privilege to navigate multiple public school options with different application deadlines and processes. Interest in unified enrollment for Oakland’s charter and district public school remains — let us know if you agree there should be one system; we’ll pass the message along.
Are charter schools public?
Yes, charter schools are public.
So "public schools" include both district (OUSD) AND charter schools?
Yes, the difference is that some are run by the district (OUSD) and others are operated by charters granted the ability to operate by either the district (OUSD) or the Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE). Both district and charter schools are public schools, tuition free and open to all.
There are so many public schools in Oakland, how do I choose the one that best fits my child and family?
Families consider many factors when choosing a school that is best for their child(ren). We recommend that you use Oakland School Finder to explore and compare schools, and check out these helpful tips and tools from GreatSchools.org. You may also want to take a tour of the schools that interest you and talk with principals, teachers, and other parents.
How do I find out what schools are in my neighborhood?
Through Oakland School Finder, you can use your address to search for schools nearby. When you enter your street address and grade you are looking for, you will see a list with links to profiles of the charter and district public schools closest to your home. The tool also provides a map showing the locations of all Oakland public schools and links to school profiles that include details such as programs offered, school type and location, accountability ratings, enrollment data, and contact information.
Once you’ve explored your school options and are ready to complete your applications – charter school application and district school (OUSD) application – both applications will list your school options based on the distance from your home address.
General Application Questions
How do I know if I need to apply for a school next year?
Any student who wants to attend a different school (district or charter) should participate in the On-Time Application process. Most people apply during key transition grades, such as TK/K, 6 or 9, but you are able to participate in any grade if you wish to attend a different school.
For district schools (OUSD), current students in 5th and 8th grade need to apply for the next grade, even if they already attend a “span school” that offers the next grade and they want to continue at the same school. Students attending Pre-K classes in OUSD’s Early Childhood Education Programs who want to attend an OUSD school for TK or Kindergarten will also need to apply.
For charter schools, generally, if you and your child are happy with your current school choice and you plan to attend the same school next year (and that school offers the next grade level), you do not need to participate in the On-Time Application process. We do recommend you check with your school to see if there’s anything you need to do to confirm enrollment for the next school year.
My child has special needs. Can I participate in this process?
Yes, all Oakland children are welcome to participate in the On-Time Application process for both district schools (OUSD) and charter schools, including English Language Learners and students with special needs. It is often helpful to talk with the schools that interest you to learn more about how they will meet your child’s needs before applying.
All Oakland charter schools enroll students regardless of special needs. In district schools (OUSD), some programs may be offered in certain schools and not others. Note that these programs may change based on IEP review and enrollment needs.
If you have questions about special needs programs, call the Oakland Enrolls team at 510-454-9360 for charter specific questions and the OUSD Enrollment Office at 510-879-4600 for district school specific questions.
How do I apply to Oakland charter public schools?
98% of Oakland’s charter schools participate in the online common charter application. For these schools, go to OaklandEnrolls.org and click on the teal “”Charter”” button. The On-Time Application for the 2021-2022 school year opens on November 16, 2020, with a deadline to apply to participating Oakland charter schools by February 5, 2021. Applying before this deadline ensures that you will be included in the school’s lotteries, giving you the best chance at getting an offer from a school of your choice. The results of those lotteries will be available in your online account on March 11, 2021. You will also receive a notification that explains the results of the lotteries, and will say if you will receive an offer or if you will be placed on the waiting list.
Applications submitted after the February 5, 2021 deadline will be considered a Late Application — you will be placed on a waiting list at each of your selected schools, and/or offered enrollment if space becomes available. The school will notify you by text, email, phone and/or mail. Late Applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Some schools use priorities in the Late Application period, so your school waitlist positions may change depending on the actions of other applicants.
To contact the school(s) that you applied to, visit our list of participating schools for their website and contact information. For questions about the Oakland Enrolls charter application, contact us at (510) 454-9360.
The following schools are not participating in the common charter application, so you will not be able to apply through the process we just described. Please visit their websites to get information about their respective process and timeline: East Bay Innovation and Civic Corps.
To increase the chances of getting into a school of your choice, apply to multiple schools. The more, the better!
How do I apply to District Schools (OUSD)?
During On-Time Enrollment, the district schools application (OUSD) will be available online, in-person at district schools, or at the Welcome Center at 746 Grand Avenue. Go to OaklandEnrolls.org and click the green “District” button to access the district’s (OUSD) enrollment website or call 510-879-4600. The deadline to submit an application to the district schools (OUSD) is February 2021. Applying before this deadline guarantees entry to the school’s lottery, offering you the best opportunity to receive an offer from the school of your choice.
What do I need to apply?
For charter schools, in order to complete your application online, you will need basic information about your child, such as their birth date, current school, and grade, as well as information about your family, such as address, phone number, and guardian’s name. You will also need to list your school choices and put them in the order that you prefer.
For district schools (OUSD), if this is the first time you are enrolling in a district school (OUSD) or if your address has changed, you will need to provide proof of residency, child’s age, and the parent’s identification. Visit https://www.ousd.org/enroll to learn more.
When is the On-Time Application period for charter and district-run schools?
For all public schools, both district (OUSD) and the majority of charter schools, the On-Time Application period is November 16, 2020 until February 5, 2021.
Does it matter when I submit my application?
Yes. The On-Time Application deadline for the 2021-22 school year is February 5, 2021 for both district (OUSD) and charter schools in Oakland. However, all applications received by the deadline will be considered equally in accordance with each school’s enrollment priorities (i.e., there is no advantage to submitting your application earlier within the On-Time Application period. Schools will run their lotteries in March and you’ll be notified of results on March 11, 2021. All families will be asked to either accept or decline their enrollment offer(s) by March 25, 2021.
Charter applications submitted after the On-Time Application deadline will be considered a Late Application — you will be placed on a waiting list at each of your selected schools, and/or offered enrollment if space becomes available. Late Applications will only be available online, and applicants will be placed on waitlists on a first-come, first-serve basis.
What happens if I miss the On-Time Application deadline?
All applications submitted during the On-Time Application period will be included in the lottery process. If you miss the deadline, you can still apply but your application will be processed on a first-come first-serve basis, after those who applied during the On-Time Application period. Applying to multiple schools before the deadline is the best way to increase your chances of getting into a school of your choice. Visit our Next Steps page to learn more.
What resources are available to help me enroll my child in a public school?
To research schools:
- Use Oakland School Finder, an online, interactive tool to help families find and explore schools in their neighborhood and beyond.
- Tour the school(s) that interest you, and talk with the principal and teachers to get a feel for whether it’s a good fit.
- Attend schools’ open houses.
- Attend enrollment fairs; these usually occur in December and January.
For charter school questions, call the Oakland Enrolls team at 510-454-9360. We have multilingual interpretation available and are open M-F, 9am-5pm. For in-person support, visit any participating charter school.
For district school (OUSD) questions, visit http://ousd.org/enroll, call 510-879-4600, or visit the OUSD Welcome Center at 746 Grand Ave.
Oakland Common Charter Application Questions
How do I access Oakland's common charter application?
Go to OaklandEnrolls.org and click on the teal “Charter” button at the top of the page. This will take you to SchoolMint, our online application platform, which is also used by OUSD. If this is your first visit to SchoolMint, you will need to create an account using your email address and/or mobile phone number. You also can use your same login to apply to OUSD schools. Once you have logged on, follow the steps to create a Family Profile and, if you are ready, start applying to schools. You can use your same login information to access your application at any time to add/subtract schools or make other changes to your SchoolMint profile. It is important to save your SchoolMint login information. You must include a cell phone number/email to receive updates. If you forget your login or have trouble accessing your account please call 510-454-9360 for assistance.
Is the application available in multiple languages?
Both the district and charter online applications are available in five languages – Arabic, Chinese, English, Spanish & Vietnamese.
Can someone walk me through how to complete an application online?
Yes, you may visit any participating Oakland charter public school, or call the Oakland Enrolls team at 510-454-9360 for support. Some schools will have parent stations set up to guide families through the online application process.
Is there a paper application for enrolling in Oakland charter public schools? If so, where can I get it?
The charter school application is only available online in five languages at OaklandEnrolls.org. Filling out an online application is fast, easy, there’s less room for error, and you can access it from your smartphone.
If you don’t feel comfortable filling out the application online, don’t worry – the Oakland Enrolls team can create, view, and edit applications for you over the phone at 510-454-9360, and staff at participating schools can also assist you in completing it online. Click here for a list of participating schools.
Although OUSD offers a paper application, it may not be available currently due to COVID-19. Please see www.ousd.org/enroll for details.
I don’t have an email address, and only use a landline – can I still apply?
Yes, you can still apply, but we will need an email address or a mobile phone number for communication purposes. You may use a relative’s or friend’s contact information (mobile phone number and/or email address) for login purposes if you don’t have one of your own. Much of the communication that will come from schools regarding the status of your application will be via email or text message, so we want to ensure that you have access to this information.
How many charter schools can I apply to?
As many as you like. Admission is not guaranteed; a school will have a random lottery if it has more applicants than available space. The more schools you apply to, the better the chance you will have of your child getting an offer from one of your choice schools.
If I completed the OUSD application online, do I need to complete the Oakland common charter application too?
Only if you want your child to attend a charter public school. The OUSD application is only for public schools run by the district. The charter application is only for participating Oakland charter schools. The choice is yours. Be mindful, however, that applying to multiple schools – charter and district – improves the chances of getting into a school of your choice.
I submitted an application for only one charter school. Can I go back and add more schools?
Yes, you can add more schools at any time. To be included in lotteries, add additional schools by the On-Time Application deadline. We highly recommend that you apply to multiple schools because it increases your chances of getting into a school of your choice. The more schools you choose, the better.
Does the ranking of my school choices increase the chances of my child getting into their top ranked charter school?
No. We see how this can be confusing, since the district’s (OUSD) enrollment process does it that way! School ranking information is mostly being collected for informational purposes.
Do charter public schools give preferences to certain applicants?
Yes. If a school receives more applicants than available space, schools will hold a random lottery. Schools may use some enrollment priorities to determine applicant preference in their lottery. Different schools use different priorities – for example, some schools may give a higher priority to applicants who live in the area, while others may give priority to students who qualify for free and reduced lunch. Since the priorities are different for each school, it is best to check SchoolFinder to see which schools use which priorities and contact the school(s) to learn more.
I have two children that I’d like to complete applications for. Do I complete separate applications for each?
Yes, you must complete one application per child, but will be able to do so under one online account. In your SchoolMint Family Profile, you may add as many children as needed to accurately represent your family and will then be able to select any child and submit an application on his/her behalf. It is important to set-up your family profile this way because some charter schools provide preference for siblings who are applying together.
Oakland Charter Application Submission & Next Steps
How will I know if my application is submitted?
You will receive confirmation of your application submission via email and/or text message (depending on the communication preference you indicated in your application). You can also login to your SchoolMint profile at any time to see which schools you’ve applied to. Once you’ve submitted an application, there is no need to resubmit.
Why didn’t I receive confirmation of my application submission?
If you don’t receive a confirmation by email or text, go back to your online profile. If your application status is “Pending”, click on the “Submit” button on the last page. This will complete your application.
I am completing a charter school application. What kind of communication can I expect?
You will be contacted by email and/or text message at various times throughout the online charter application process, including when you submit your final application as well as when/if the schools you choose offer you enrollment or place you on their wait lists. So keep your contact information in SchoolMint up-to-date.
How will I know if I have any offers?
Applications received by the On-Time Application deadline will be included in charter school lotteries in March. After the March lotteries, you will receive a notification by text or e-mail from SchoolMint when an offer is made. You should see all your charter school lottery results – Offer or Waitlist – in your SchoolMint student dashboard and at that time you can Accept or Decline an offer. You will also see the deadline to Accept or Decline a charter school offer. If you do not accept by the deadline, the charter school lottery offer(s) will expire.
Applications submitted after the On-Time Application deadline will be considered a Late Application — you will be placed on a waiting list at each of your selected schools, and/or offered enrollment if space becomes available.
What if I have multiple offers, can I accept more than one?
Each charter school will run their own lottery, which means it is possible to receive multiple offers.
For schools participating in the common charter application, all families who receive a lottery offer(s) are required to confirm by a specific date. To free up seats for other interested families, once you accept an offer to a participating charter school, offers from other participating charter schools will be automatically declined. You can remain on waitlists but may only accept an offer from one charter school.
Accepting an offer from a participating charter school will not impact applications to the district (OUSD) and/or non-participating charter schools as they are part of a separate system. You must contact the district and/or non-participating charter schools directly for an update on your assignment.
To contact the school(s) that you applied to, visit our list of participating schools for their website and contact information. For questions about a district (OUSD) school, call/text (510) 879-4600 or go to https://www.ousd.org/enroll for more information. For questions about the Oakland Enrolls charter application, call us at (510) 454-9360.
How does the waitlist work?
Charter public schools have a set number of spots available in each grade. A school may receive more applicants than spots available, so applicants who are not offered a spot in the March lotteries will be placed on waitlists. Those submitting an application after the On-Time Application deadline will also be placed on a waitlist. Some schools use priorities in the Late Application period, so your school waitlist number may change depending on the actions of other applicants.
Schools admit applicants from the waitlist if space becomes available. This can happen at any time throughout the year. You may stay on the waitlist at any or all of the schools to which you’ve been waitlisted. However, schools’ waitlists expire every year so you would need to submit a new application if you are interested in attending for future years. As with the lottery, admission from the waitlist is not guaranteed, so families may apply to additional schools at any time. If you are no longer interested in a school, we ask families to remove themselves from waitlists – you can withdraw your application in your SchoolMint account, call the school directly, or call Oakland Enrolls.
To contact the school(s) that you applied to, visit our list of participating schools for their website and contact information. For questions about the Oakland Enrolls charter application, contact us at (510) 454-9360.
I have accepted my seat. What's next?
Registration. After accepting a charter school offer, please contact the school for registration information. Some schools email specific instructions and a list of registration requirements. Be prepared to present certain documents for verification purposes like proof of address, copy of birth certificate, etc. You may also be invited to attend an orientation or information session with the school, so be on the lookout for communication about those events.
What documentation will I be asked to provide for registration?
Check with the school. Typically you need to provide proof of address, your child’s birth certificate, immunization records, and more.
Technical Support and Updating Applications
Is my personal information secure? I’m concerned about privacy and data sharing.
Application information will only be used to contact you and to ensure accuracy during the lottery and enrollment process. Information will only be shared with schools and staff participating in the Oakland Enrolls common charter application.
How do I reset my password?
If you’ve already created an account, select “Forgot Username?” or “Forgot Password?” if you are unsure of your login credentials.
I entered the wrong birthdate for my child. How do I fix it?
Log in to your SchoolMint account profile, select the child whose information is incorrect, and make the necessary fix. You can update your family’s profile information at any time.
Do I need to create a new family profile if my contact information changes?
No, you do not need to create a new account. It is, however, very important to keep your SchoolMint account updated with current contact information. To do so, log-in to your existing SchoolMint account with your current credentials and you’ll be able to update your contact information.
More Questions About Oakland Charter Public Schools
Please visit Oakland Charters to learn more about Oakland charter public schools, oaklandcharters.org.