Information for Districts

  • For Districts Referring Students to Alternative Education

    Please email referrals to Katy Foster ( 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/Phoenix or Oracle) and/or to send a referral back to the District of origin. Referrals are sent back to the District typically 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.

    Steps to Take:

    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.
      1. New this year: We have a longer orientation process so that students receive the information they need to be successful from the start. We will schedule these orientation days in clusters when possible.
      2. 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.
    4. Notify the sending school through a records request.
    5. Notify the sending District through a quarterly email update.


    Most students will be placed in Marin’s Community School/Phoenix Academy day programs, 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/PA students and/or the community.


    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 uncompleted/open Special Education assessment should have that process completed before being placed at an Alternative Education setting via an IEP. 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 amount 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 setting is recommended by the IEP team. 

    Referral and Enrollment Checklist

    • Referral form signed by parent and/or date and method of parent notification. Parent signature gives permission for us to share information with sending districts.\.
    • Copy of expulsion order or SARB referral.
    • 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.
    • Health and vaccination records.
    • Full IEP and most recent testing (if applicable).
    • Full 504 plan (if applicable).
    • Current grades/report card.