(This is a re-print of an article I originally wrote for WLAPOM – The West LA Parents Of Multiples Organization.)
When it comes to schools, one thing we do have in Los Angeles – the second-largest school district in the country – is choice. While it’s tricky to understand all your public school application and lottery choices and their respective timelines, it can get even trickier navigating it with twins or multiples. Sometimes you actually have an advantage. Sometimes not so much. But the key to it all is understanding your options.
Here is a quick outline of how to navigate finding a public school with twins or multiples.
Your Neighborhood School
Every address is zoned to a local elementary, middle and high school. This is your neighborhood school, your assigned school. Take the time to look it up, tour it, assess it, and talk to some of the current community involved. If you want this to be your family’s school, as long as can show proof of residence and get your enrollment papers submitted during “The Roundup” in the spring, (generally March-April), it’s a sure thing. Your neighborhood school will automatically accept all zoned residents, including multiples. Moving into the footprint of a great local school, if possible, is the ideal situation.
Magnet programs are voluntary integration programs that provide a diverse, enriched, theme-based educational environment for lucky lottery winners, with transportation provided if you qualify. This is also where that crazy weighted point system kicks in. If you’ve picked up one of my guidebooks or attended one of my talks, you should be well-versed in the ins and outs of point collection and strategy. The downside is that twins are treated as individuals. They both could get in, or only one might get in. If the latter happens, the second child would have to attend elsewhere until the following year when sibling points will almost assuredly get him/her into the program. But don’t let that dissuade you. There are plenty of twins who make it through the magnet system. Apply online at echoices.lausd.net Oct to mid-Nov for the following school year.
LA has more students enrolled in charter schools than anywhere else in the country.
Independent Charters are free to design, implement and operate their schools apart from district and union policies, budgets and bureaucracy. Anyone from anywhere can apply to their open lotteries, (usually Jan/Feb), and the successful independent charters have long lists of applicants. But twins and siblings get special treatment: if one sibling gets in, typically all the other siblings get in too. This gives you multiple chances to win the lottery over “single” child applicants.
Affiliated Converted Charters are district-union run hybrid charters with less autonomy than the independent charter, but maintain the original district building, facility and neighborhood attendance area. Usually 98.5% of incoming students are residents (those who reside within the school’s attendance area) who get first priority enrollment, but every year any remaining seats go up for lottery to non-resident applicants. Each school runs their own lottery (typically Feb/Mar) and most offer the “sibling advantage” – if one gets in, they all get in — but it will be space-dependent.
In addition to the above possibilities, there are also LAUSD schools offering easy Open Enrollment, Schools for Advanced Studies (for Gifted students), Pilot schools, Language Immersion programs, Specialized Small Learning Academies (at secondary schools), and the possibility of transfers both within and out of the district to look into. In most cases schools prefer to keep families together rather than separated, however it will depend on the number of seats available and the order of being drawn if there is a lottery.
For a color-coded map of public schools including magnets and charters by area, please visit my free Google mash-up maps at GoMamaGuide.com/schoolfinder. If this seems overwhelming and you want to discuss specific schools or strategy, we can always set up a consultation.