Students kayaking

Information for Districts

  • Sending a Referral

    We are excited to offer a viable alternative program for students and families who are seeking a smaller setting with a higher staff-to-student ratio, personalized learning, and increased supports so that students can be prepared for college, career, and life. As we challenge the traditional identity of alternative education programs, we encourage referrals earlier for students who would benefit from the program we have here. 

    Generally, districts refer students through SARB or expulsion. However, we do have students who self-refer or who elect to stay with us after the completion of their contracts, because they are benefitting from our program. We also receive referrals directly from Marin County Juvenile Probation. In these cases, we would work with the MCOE team as well as the home District to ensure our school is the correct placement.

    Please email referrals to Katy Foster (, Lucia Echeverria Madera (, and Saul Godinez ( You can also drop them off or send via snail mail if you prefer. If we have a question about whether our program would best fit the needs of the student, we will reply with questions or a request for more information. 

    The length of time between the initiation of a referral to the Marin County Office of Education Alternative Education Programs and the first day of enrollment can vary widely.  Some students can be enrolled in less than a week. Some referrals may take several weeks. The average length of time for the referral process is two weeks. 

    Referral Processing Steps

    Once we receive a referral, we complete the following steps.

    1. Confirm the referral is complete with all requested information and communicate with the sender if not. 
    2. Review the referral to determine the best placement within our programs (MCS or Oracle) and/or a referral back to the District of origin. Referrals back to District are typically made if:
      1. Our program could not effectively implement a student’s IEP and/or provide conditions that would permit appropriate progress on identified IEP goals. 
      2. The referred student is currently being assessed by the referring district to determine eligibility for special education support and services.
      3. The student is 18 or nearly 18 and does not have a reasonable ability to meet graduation requirements in one semester (in which case we would refer to an adult education program within the County.)

    At certain times of the year, we receive more referrals than we can handle quickly. Referrals will be processed in the order in which they are received except in cases of expulsion or probation referral.

    1. Contact the family to make an admissions appointment.
    2. Hold the admissions appointment.
    3. Enroll the student when they arrive on their scheduled day with enrollment papers in hand. 
    4. Students with IEPs must have an IEP meeting called (to be arranged by the referring district) in accordance with SELPA, State, and Federal requirements to discuss and determine the appropriateness of the potential placement before the placement of the student can be fully established.
    5. Notify the sending school through a records request.
    6. Notify the sending District through a quarterly email update.


    Most students will be placed in Marin’s Community School, with Oracle Independent Study as an option in special circumstances, and based on available space. There are certain circumstances when students must attend Oracle due to violent or unsafe circumstances with other MCS students and/or the community. Oracle does not serve as a general independent study program.


    We do not enroll students unless they arrive with their paperwork completed, after the initial admissions meeting. Factors and considerations that affect the timeline for processing a referral are:

    1. Parents who do not respond to our attempts to contact them or do not come for the admissions appointment. The District can refer the student to the County SARB for possible referral to Probation directly if necessary.
    2. Incomplete referrals. Please see the checklist below to be sure that your referral packet is complete.
    3. Errors on the referral form.

    Special Education

    With District support, we recently expanded our Special Education program this year to serve students with a wider range of learning differences. It is very important that if a student with an IEP is referred to our programs, the enrollment team has immediate access to the student’s current IEP and the most recent psychoeducational evaluations to ensure proper placement and support within the new setting.

    The Marin County SELPA’s member LEAs have agreed that students who have an incomplete/open Special Education assessment should have that process completed before being placed at an Alternative Education setting. This is to be certain that the student’s current needs are clearly identified prior to a change of placement so that the IEP team can confidently recommend that the Alternative Education setting is an appropriate setting for the student.  This process also serves to limit the number of school transitions for a struggling student in case the assessment shows that we cannot appropriately serve the student in our educational setting and another educational setting is recommended by the IEP team.  

    Referral Form

    Referral and Enrollment Checklist

    • Referral form signed by parent and/or date and method of parental notification. Note: Having a parent's signature gives us permission to communicate with the sending district about the student.
    • Copy of expulsion order or SARB referral with contract or expulsion requirements
    • Full discipline records (up to the date of the referral). If the student has a discipline incident after the referral is sent, please inform us as soon as possible
    • Attendance records
    • Health and vaccination records
    • Full IEP and most recent testing (if applicable)
    • Full 504 plan (if applicable)
    • Current grades/report card
    • Transcript