Answers To

Common Questions about Charter Schools

General Questions About Charter Schools

What is a charter school?

Charter schools are tuition-free public schools open to all students.

They operate independently of a school district through a contract (“charter”) agreed upon by a local school district, county office of education, or the state. The charter sets goals for which the school will be held accountable. In turn, charter school leaders and teachers are given the freedom and flexibility to try new approaches to education. Charter schools have unique models and offer an option for families seeking a different educational experience for their children.

All charter schools in West Contra Costa are run by not-for-profit organizations.

Who can attend a charter school?

Charter schools are open to all students. Charter schools celebrate diversity and welcome all students, regardless of their background or special needs. Like all public schools, charter schools are required to enroll and serve students with disabilities, and are committed to providing high quality and legally compliant special education services to any student with disabilities.

What qualifications do charter school teachers have?

Charter schools in California are required to hire credentialed teachers for core academic and college preparatory subjects.

What charter schools can I apply to using EnrollWCC?

Twelve out of 14 charter schools in West Contra Costa are participating in EnrollWCC for the 2020-21 school year. This means you can use the common application to apply to any or all of these schools.

Click here to see a full list of participating schools.

Are there other charter schools in West Contra Costa?

The following schools are not participating in EnrollWCC for the 2020-21 school year:

Manzanita Charter Middle School

Voices West Contra Costa

Each school above has its own application process and timeline. For more information, contact each school directly.

Questions About Applying to Charter Schools

How does the application and enrollment process work?

All interested students must submit an application, which asks for basic student information such as name, grade level, and contact information. When a charter school receives more applications than space allows, a random lottery is held to determine enrollment.

After the lottery is held, if a child receives an enrollment offer, they must confirm enrollment with the school and complete additional paperwork, such as emergency contact information and immunization records.

If a child does not receive an enrollment offer because all spaces are filled, they are automatically added to the school’s waitlist.

How does the lottery work?

If more students apply to a school than there are spaces available, each school will conduct a lottery (March 5, 2020) to determine which applicants will be offered admission. Each school has its own admissions priorities and waitlist process. Each school will contact students on the waitlist if space becomes available.

What does it mean to be on a school’s waitlist?

Because there can be more applications to a school than openings at that school, enrollment is not guaranteed. Many charter schools have waitlists and enroll more students as additional openings become available.

Charter school waitlists cannot roll over from year to year, based on state law. Waitlists remain in place through the end of each school year. For example, if an application is submitted for the 2020-21 school year, a child’s name will be on the waitlist only until the end of this year. The following year, everyone has an equal chance when reapplying.

How many charter schools can I apply to at once?

You can apply to as many charter schools as you like that serve your student’s grade level. Applying to more charter schools increases your overall chances of receiving an enrollment offer.

If I apply to more than one school, will this affect my child’s chances of getting into a specific charter school?

No. However, applying to more than one school will increase your overall chances of receiving an enrollment offer because you will enter the lottery at multiple schools. It will have no impact on your application to any particular school.

I already submitted an application for only one charter school. How do I apply to other charter schools?

Log into SchoolMint using the account you created for your initial application. For step-by-step instructions, review this handout. If you have forgotten your username or password, see instructions to recover it. Please avoid creating a new SchoolMint account, as duplicates can cause complications in the system.

School X is my top choice. I want to wait until I see if my child gets an offer there first. Should I apply to the other schools after the lottery?

We recommend that you apply to all schools that you might be interested in before February 14, 2020. After that date, you will still be able to apply to other schools in the Round 2 application process. However, by that time, all schools will have already run their lotteries, and most of them will only be accepting applications for their waitlist. Applying to multiple schools before the February 14th deadline is in your best interest, as it will have no impact on your application to School X while increasing your overall chances of receiving an enrollment offer.

Questions about Applications before February 14, 2020

Does it matter when I submit my application?

For applications to the 2020-21 school year, we recommend applying as soon as possible. As long as your application is received by the February 14, 2020, your chances of admission will not be affected in any way. All applications received by that date will be included in a randomized lottery process per each school’s lottery preferences.

How do I know if my application has been received?

Once your application is submitted to SchoolMint, you will receive a confirmation email or text message.

For applications for the 2020-21 school year, you will receive a notification on March 6, 2020, from each school you selected informing you of their lottery results.

For applications to the 2019–20 school year, you will only hear from schools if there is an opening this year and your child has reached the top of their waitlist.

Please keep your contact information up to date in your SchoolMint profile because that is how schools will communicate with you.

Is a paper application available?

No. All applications must be submitted online. If you need help accessing or completing the application, please go to the front office of any Enroll WCC participating school.

How can I get additional help with my application?

Call or visit any participating EnrollWCC school during regular work hours.

Additionally, you can contact SchoolMint by going to their online Support Center, sending an email to support@schoolmint.com, or calling their support team (855-957-3535).

Questions about Applications after February 14, 2020

I missed the February 14 application deadline, but I’m still interested in applying. What can I do?

For the 2020-21 application year, the initial application period (called Round 1) ends on February 14, 2020. If you miss the Round 1 deadline, you can submit a Round 2 application, starting on February 18, 2020. Your application will be considered for enrollment after applicants who applied by the Round 1 deadline. Round 2 applications will not be included in any school’s lottery. 

If a school has availability, Round 2 applicants will be enrolled on a first-come, first-served basis, per each school’s policy. If a school does not have availability, Round 2 applicants will be added to the waitlist.

Round 2 applications for the 2019-20 school year will be open through the spring of 2020.

Who can apply during the Round 2 process (after February 14, 2020)?

Anyone! Round 2 applications are usually submitted by families who missed the application deadline, just moved to the area, or are interested in a different school option.

Questions About Admissions & Enrollment

How do charter schools use priorities in the admissions process?

When a public charter school receives more applications than space allows, a lottery is held to determine which students will be enrolled. Each school’s lottery may differ in the way it prioritizes different types of applicants, in accordance with its school policies and California charter school law. Visit the individual school’s page on this website to learn more about each school’s admissions priorities.

How do I accept an enrollment offer at a charter school?

 To accept an offer to a school, login to your SchoolMint account. The Student Dashboard lists any applications you have submitted, along with their status. If an application is in “offered” status, there will also be a green button that you can click to accept the offer, as well as a red button that you can click to decline that offer. 

Click “accept” to accept. You should get a confirmation email and/or text confirming that you accepted, with more instructions on how to register. Please note that after this step, you must register with the school to ensure your seat.

You can ONLY accept an offer at ONE school, even if you receive offers from multiple schools. The deadline to accept an offer is March 31, 2020. If you are on the waitlist at additional schools, accepting an offer will NOT remove you from other schools’ waitlists.

After I accept an offer, how do I register?

After you accept an offer at one school, that school will contact you to complete a registration process. This may include additional paperwork, verification of student records, and other steps. The enrollment process will be complete only when you submit all required documents to the school itself.

Questions About Accommodations for Student Needs

What programs do charter schools offer for students with disabilities?

Charter schools celebrate diversity and welcome all students, regardless of their background or needs. As public schools, charter schools are required to enroll and serve students with disabilities in the same manner as traditional public schools. Charter schools understand their responsibility to serve all students and are committed to providing quality and compliant special education services to students with disabilities.

Because charter schools have additional flexibility, they can offer individualized support and various educational strategies to meet the needs of all students, including those with disabilities and other unique challenges. 

Contact each school directly for detailed information about the special education services they provide.

Questions About Transfers To or From WCCUSD Schools

What about WCCUSD schools?

West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) operates more than 50 public schools. For more information about your zoned neighborhood school, other district options, and how to register, visit the WCCUSD website.

View data about WCCUSD schools, student demographics, and academic results on the Data Dashboard.

Can I attend a WCCUSD school other than the one assigned to me?

Yes. To attend a WCCUSD other than your assigned neighborhood school, you can request a transfer during the annual Open Enrollment period. The Open Enrollment Period for the 2020-2021 school year has not been announced yet. 

Students zoned to the following Comprehensive Support Schools, as determined by the California Department of Education, are given priority to attend any WCCUSD school: Bayview, Chavez, Coronado, DeJean, Downer,  Grant, Greenwood, Highland, King, Riverside, and Stege.

Privacy & Security of My Personal Info with EnrollWCC and SchoolMint

Is my personal information secure? I’m concerned about privacy and data sharing.

SchoolMint is a secure website that families across the country use to apply to schools. It will only ask you basic information such as name, relationship to student, contact information, and student birth date, NOT Social Security number or other personal details. Learn more about SchoolMint’s privacy policy.

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 EnrollWCC.

Other Questions

If you have other questions about a specific school, call or visit the school during regular business hours.

If you have questions about the enrollment process or your application in SchoolMint to one or more charter school, you can contact SchoolMint:

Online Support Center
support@schoolmint.com
(855) 957-3535