BUSD: Requesting a transfer to a different school

I don't have experience with Cragmont but, I can say that if things do not go well it is difficult to make a change. Our daughter had a rough year in Kindergarten at another BUSD public school. I could tell from the first few days that the teacher was not a good fit. We were told by our principal that they never switch kids to another teacher within a school. You have to switch to completely different school in the district. We were offered a spot at Cragmont, but  it was not a viable option for us because we have 3 kids to drop off at 3 different schools, the 9am start time, and the fact that it is across town and out of zone and we wouldn't get any bus service. We tried all year to get a spot someplace else in the district but couldn't. We ended up sticking it out and taking our daughter to a child psychologist to help her cope. I know the private school we got into would have been a better fit for my daughter but we just couldn't afford to do it. 

That being said, most people seem to love BUSD public schools. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Switching to a different school for 1st grade

Nov 2009

Our child is enrolled in Kindergarten at John Muir Elementary in Berkeley. We are not too happy with the school and would like to switch to Emerson Elemenatary (in the same zone) next fall. Has anyone done this successfully? Are there any tips for doing so, especially since Emerson is so popular? Thanks in advance. anon

We had a successful experience switching our first grader from another school in the south zone TO John Muir Elementary School. We were lucky to get in since there was a long waiting list for the school, and our daughter has been very happy there. I can't say that the transfer process was an especially easy one: in fact, it was something of an emotional roller coaster. Spaces for first grade were extremely limited, especially with increased enrollments due to families leaving private schools and entering the public school system. My daughter's name was third on the waiting list for six months, and we thought for sure she would get into John Muir before the first day of school. We were disappointed when she didn't, and felt very up in the air. From September to December, our daughter was first on the waiting list. Her transfer was finally approved mid-year, which was really difficult because by then, she had bonded with her class. We accepted the mid-year transfer, and thankfully the students and faculty at John Muir were very welcoming. My daughter's first grade teacher bent over backwards to make sure that she had plenty of ''buddies'' to play with at recess and lunch. We fell in love with the parent community, too, so this is a story with a good ending. Still, I wouldn't recommend a mid-year transfer if there's anyway to avoid it.

I definitely think transferring is worth a try if John Muir isn't a good fit for you and your family. Every school in BUSD has it unique strengths, and finding the right one for you is important. I don't feel comfortable identifying myself since I am hesitant for anyone to figure out which school we left, but if you ask around at John Muir, you can probably find me. I have do some tips, but again, it would be much better to share them offline.

I also wonder if you have spoken about your concerns with your child's teacher and the new principal, Javier Mendieta. They are first in line to help you and your child have a positive experience at school. Mr. Mendieta seems very accessible and responsive. In addition to approaching the teacher and the principal, you can also talk with PTA and SGC leadership. There are structures in place to support you, and I encourage you to reach out. Whatever choice you end up making, I wish you and your child the best. BUSD parent of a happily transplanted child

Transferring 4th grader to another BUSD school

Sept 2009

We are trying to get the BUSD to transfer our 4th grade daughter to another elementary school, but have run into a wall. She has been at her current school since kindergarten. Two weeks before school started she confided that she could not bear to return, due to longstanding problems with certain students. We went to the BUSD Parent Access office at the busiest time--the start of the school year--and filled out the paperwork, listing several schools we would transfer to. I wrote out a lengthy explanation of the reasons on the back of one of the forms. When we followed up today we were told that our daughter could not be transferred out of her current school if it altered the representation of our demographic at the current school. Then the person said, ''but maybe your daughter's group is over-represented.'' I understood this to mean that the 3 categories--race, income group, and parent's education--are taken into account when we are asking for a transfer for cause. This does not seem fair. Has anyone else had experience with trying to transfer within the district? We are very disheartened because we know for a fact that there is a small minority of students of our daughter's particular race at her current school. Why doesn't the BUSD consider the merits of our request, namely the serious harassment she has been exposed to, in makng their decision? Any advice is appreciated. Berkeley mom

I am not able to give advice, but as a high school assistant principal (not at BUSD), I may have some insights. It would be a shame to transfer your daughter without giving her and the other students a chance to address the issue. Your daughter did not share this with you until two weeks before school. If you had not known anything was wrong last year, this tells me that while serious and valid to your daughter, the harrassment is not to the extent she is in danger. That being the case, this is a tremendous opportunity for your daughter to bring this to someone's attention and move beyond this. Through guidance, she can learn to speak up for herself and work through problems. This also gives the school a chance to address the bullying. Bullying is unfortunately a problem at many schools. I encourage students to let me know so that I can address it and so that the bullies have consequences. It is hard to see our kids suffer and I know the tendency is to get rid of the problem, but this will come up again in some form later. Giving your daughter the tools to deal with this and live through the experience may be the silver lining in this. Anon

Sounds like this involves emotional safety for your daughter. I think safety trumps all else, and it may be worth appealing to highers up -- up to the superintendent if necessary. Key is couching it as a safety issue -- they aren't going to do it for you, but should sit up and at least discuss it with you if you mention ''safety.'' (due to liability concerns, if nothing else). Good luck.

I want to trade schools with another family

Aug 2009

Greetings Families: I have a child that attends Le Conte Elementary. They will be entering the 4th Grade this September. I would like to transfer to Berkeley Art Magnet, North Berkeley. My decision to transfer is solely because Berkeley Art Magnet is closer, and in walking distance of our home.

I'm currently driving to South Berkeley every morning and afternoon just to drop off and pick up my child. I have no other business in that area in the mornings or afternoons. Environmentally it is better for us to attend a school closer to home.

I'm seeking a parent that is currently attending Berkeley Art Magnet, that possibly might be living in South Berkeley and would like to attend Le Conte. My child is on the waiting list for BAM, but I was wondering if I could make anyone's life easier by maybe switching with a parent who would like to go to Le Conte? Le Conte is a great school; it is out of my way and is in opposite directions of where I live, and where I need to drop my preschooler and 4th Grader. There is a possibility, that my child might get into BAM before school starts in September, they are #4 on the waiting list. BAM is already full for the 4th grade, which it's also possible that they might not get in.

I hope there is a parent out there that can consider a trade. I really need to make this happen. Thank you. Really wanting to be environmentally sound!

Having been on a waiting list for a BUSD spot, I can appreciate your stress. However, I question if BUSD would allow your plan to trade 4th grade spots and if I were in a spot above you and you attempted unfairly to ''cut in line'' I would feel rather upset. anon

I understand that you are seeking a family to switch schools with, but I fear your quest is misguided. The BUSD does not allow student families to pick who will replace them. Replacements are pulled off of waiting lists, regardless of which school they are moving from. It is good that you are on the waiting list and know what position you are in. I think the best you can do is to encourage all families that are enrolled in the BUSD schools (or any school for that matter) but are not planning to use their student's spot, to let the district know right away, rather than waiting for the district to figure it out after school begins. This, of course is common courtesy, and makes every child's and parent's life a bit less stressful. BUSD mum

How to change Berkeley middle school assignment?

April 2006

Our daughter, who is now in 4th grade and in a local private school,will go to a Berkeley middle school when she reaches 6th grade. We have lived in Berkeley for many years, but I confess we know little about the school assignment process in the Berkeley public schools. We have heard that parents can list 3 choices for elementary schools, but what about middle schools? The BUSD web site says that kids are assigned to middle schools based on their home addresses. Do we have to send her to King, which is near our house, or can we request Willard? If we request Willard, how likely is it that we will we get in? (our race is caucasian). What is the process for appealing the school assignment decision? Is there a waiting list for the middle schools? We are very concerned that King, which is so big, will feel too overwhelming for her, coming from a small private school. She also has dyslexia, which I think will not be well-served by placing her in a school of that size. Any information would be helpful. We realize that this process is months away, but have some friends with 5th graders at a local Berkeley elementary school who have just received their middle school assignments, and they told us that there is virtually nothing we can do to alter the BUSD assignments for middle school students. Is this true?
Clueless mom

I think you will hear from most people that is is virtually impossible to change your middle school assignment in Berkeley, and it is based on your home address, but that may be because most people in Berkeley who are trying to change, are trying to change INTO King, not out of it, and there is a huge wait list. I have heard that that is not true of Willard, although I don't know for sure. You should know, though, that Willard is almost as large as King, such that the difference would hardly be perceptible to someone coming from a small school. Also, there are many kids at King who come from small schools, including my son (elementary school had 60 kids). He has 4-5 kids from very small schools in his class. He has adjusted quite well, and it is a huge advantage to be very close to home, in so many ways, for the middle schoolers. Also, I did request of the administration at King that he be assigned to a classroom together with the one kid he would know in the entire school, and they accomodated that request. He's made friends quickly and does not feel overwhelmed. Oh, also, he receives special services for a speech impediment at King as well. If you'd like to find out more, feel free to contact me. Raissa

Moving from one BUSD zone to another

Jan 2005

We currently live in Berkeley and my daughter would most likely start kindergarten at Oxford or Cragmont in the near future. We hope to buy a house in Berkeley eventuallty but might not end up in the Central District. Does anyone know if she would be grandfathered in to the school? I called the BUSD and the response I was given was a tentative ''I think so''. Is my daughter guaranteed a spot for the rest of her elementary school years no matter where we live in Berkeley? Thanks.

The BUSD enrollment form states that ''BUSD students currently attending the school and living outside the attendance zone'' have 2nd priority, which is pretty solid. It's a priority even above siblings of current students. So I think you can feel secure in your child being able to stay in the same school even if you switch zones. Mimi

Once enrolled and attending a specific Berkeley Public school, you daughter would likely not have any problem remaining there, if you move elsewhere in Berkeley. The priority for enrollment at Berkeley schools I beleive is 1) current students who live in the school's zone, 2)current students who don't live in the school's zone, 3) student's siblings who live in the schools zone...etc, etc. [you need to check with BUSD to get the exact prioirty list wording yourself] I can't figure out an example that would cause them to want to move your daughter out of her school. So,if it were me, I would not worry about it at all. The folks at the BUSD office probably felt it neccessary to give you that response as they did not feel comfortable giving an absolute response. - BUSD Parent