Yeah, so, the San Francisco public school system is notoriously difficult to navigate.
In San Francisco, your kid doesn’t just go to your neighborhood school, even though that’s what most parents in San Francisco seem to want. There is a very involved school assignment process, which ratchets up parental anxiety. You are required to rank your school choices and submit them by the deadline, and you may or may not get any of your choices. A lot of families leave San Francisco when their children are getting ready to start school rather than deal with the enrollment process.
We have been touring schools and researching schools since November, and by “we” I mean my mighty, mighty good man David. He did most of the leg work on this, and I did stuff like drop off the forms at the school district and get laughed by a school district employee, which is a real thing that happened.
We submitted a list of about 35 schools, but it turned out none of those schools were going to work out for Calvin.
Since Calvin is autistic, he needs an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) with the school district. He already had one, but it was a little out of date, so we had to get him reassessed by the district. However, we couldn’t make it happen until after the enrollment deadline. So, we just did our best guess what would be right for Calvin. We assumed that Calvin would be in a “regular” classroom, and then pulled out for special services, such as speech or occupational therapy.
The school district team visited Calvin at his preschool, and we brought him into their offices for more observation. Their recommendations were unexpected. They recommended Calvin attend a mild/moderate special day class. He would receive a lot of support and services with the hope of transitioning him to the “regular” class. We were kinda surprised, but the truth is, this is the best option for Calvin. It’s better to start with a lot of services and scale back then to start with less and ask for more services.
So, there are 11 elementary schools out of 85 elementary schools in the SF Unified School District that offer mild/moderate special day classes, and — of course — none of those schools were on our original list. We had to submit another list, and it was just a few weeks before the school assignment letters were going out.
The school district employees were so kind to us. They handed us a list of the schools, and David did some quick research. One of the schools on the list was Clarendon Elementary, which is really difficult to get into. We’ve read the stories about how it’s more difficult to get into than Harvard blah blah blah. David spoke with a school district employee on the phone, and she suggested we put it as our first choice, so we did, but with no expectation that Calvin would be assigned to that school.
Narrator’s voice: They were wrong. He was assigned to that school.
We couldn’t believe our dumb luck. Calvin was assigned to what many people believe is one of the best schools in the district, and it’s less than 3 miles from our house. Finally! The MansTracy Family catches a break.
When I got the school assignment from the school district, I seriously couldn’t believe it. I called David immediately, and when I told him he replied, “Holy shit!” David never swears. It’s always “Jiminy Christmas” this and “Good grief” that.
So yeah, now that the school search is over we can focus on the important shit like the fact that our little boy is starting kindergarten in the fall.