Accepting an OUSD school you don't want?

HI there,

Our son got an offer to our last choice school (our neighborhood school- we were forced to put as #7 on the application).  We have some pretty good waitlist numbers for other schools we would prefer.

My question is whether we should accept or decline the offer to our last choice, just to secure a spot?  I know we will still remain on the waitlists above no matter what, but since this is NOT a very transparent process, I am wondering if we do accept the offer that that might affect our chances on the waitlists.

We would be grateful for any thoughts or past experiences

Stay safe BPN!

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Our family is in a similar quandary. My husband wants us to accept the offer to the less desired school just in case it doesn't work out, even though we are really high on the waitlist of our desired school and that's probably what we will do. 

Accepting vs. declining won't affect your chances for the waitlists at all, but you must do one or the other to stay on the waitlists--if you do nothing, you lose both the offered spot and the waitlist spots. The reason to accept is that you don't have a Plan B and need to secure a space somewhere. If you have a Plan B (charter, homeschool, private school) and know you will not attend the offered school no matter what, you can decline and keep all your waitlist spots. 

I don't believe it will affect your standing at the waitlist schools if you accept a spot at your last pick.  Last year we accepted a spot at a school we didn't want and then we were placed at a school we wanted. I do have to warn you however that we were not placed at the school we wanted until week 3. I can't recall our waitlist number at the offer time but we watched it drop through the summertime and then during the first 3 weeks of school. Good luck I know how hard this process can be. 

I don't know for sure but the published explanation of how the lottery works does not say that accepting a placement affects your likelihood to move up the waitlist. It's not one of the listed criteria for rankings on the waitlists. If I was in your shoes (we got placed in our neighborhood school which was our third choice and think we'll be happy at), I would worry if I didn't accept it that we would not have a place anywhere for our child next year. Is there a backup plan if you don't move up waitlists like you hope?

Yes, accept the spot. Worst case scenario, you don't want to be left without a spot at all. BUT it is completely OK to "accept" the spot and then get into another school and call and cancel later. Also note that many times waitlists adjust up until 2 weeks into the school year. It may feel really scary and chaotic at the time, but just hold out! You can often get into your first pick, even after the year starts and your kids will adjust (we had several late adds in our class and they adjusted just fine). My neighborhood school was my last choice, and we got into it - and then we were able to transfer into my top choice later. I showed up to the transfer request office on the very first day of their adjust hours. I don't know what it will look like with COVID, but I know that it was a long line and I lined up well before the office opened. We got into our top school just before the school year started, so we missed the sign up for on-site afterschool care, but we found local alternatives (JCC). Hope that helps. Good luck!

Yes you should accept it to secure the spot. Unless you have no intention of putting your child there. Last year we went through this, never got through on the other waitlists, and then eventually put him in private and dropped our #7 the day before school started (we held out hope). If you have a good chance on the other waitlists, then once you move off the waitlist to an ideal school, you'll automatically be pulled from #7 and put into that school. 

Covid19 does change things. Would you regret paying for private school knowing he had to stay home, for example? If private is not an option then you really do need to just accept it.