Placement of all students in a Palo Alto Unified School District school is done by the Registration Services office, located at the PAUSD district office at 25 Churchill Ave. Every effort is made to enroll students in the school closest to their residence based on the pre-assigned District boundary lines, called the "neighborhood school". If a neighborhood school is full, the student is placed at the next-nearest school (that has space) within the District. The following year, overflow students may return to their neighborhood school (on a space available basis) or remain in their current school.
Find your neighborhood school with our School Finder.
PAUSD's Open Enrollment policy allows students to attend Choice or Alternative Programs (chosen by lottery) or transfer to another PAUSD school on a space-available basis. If you would like your child to enroll in a choice or alternative program, you must first register your child for your neighborhood school at the Registration Services office. During registration you can request to be transferred to another PAUSD school by completing the applicable Intradistrict Transfer Request form (see below for downloadable forms). Requests for intra-district transfers are granted on a space-available basis. Board of Education Open Enrollment Policy [PDF]
When a student enrolls in the Palo Alto Unified School District, the Registration Services office assigns the student to a grade level based on the student's date of birth. After the Registration Services office assigns a student to a school and grade level, the assigned school may review the child's levels of achievement, along with any prior school documents provided, to verify the grade level placement is appropriate. Board Administrative Regulation 5111: Admission
Student born between September 2 and December 2 of the academic calendar year are eligible to attend PAUSD's Transitional Kindergarten (TK) program. Enrollment in this program is optional. Information on TK program
Elementary Student Grade Placement (Kindergarten to 5th Grade)
Students who have their 5th birthday on or before September 1 of that academic school year will be placed in kindergarten classes. All other grade placements are determined by the student's birth date.
Secondary Student Grade Placement (6th Grade to 12th Grade)
All grade placements are determined by the student's birth date. The assigned Palo Alto school will match course work with the student's appropriate level of achievement as documented by transcripts, course descriptions, and the student's file, sent by the student's previous school.
Students who wish to attend a school other than their neighborhood school may do so if space permits. These are called Intradistrict Transfers and are approved for all the remaining grades at that education level: elementary school level is K - 5; middle school level is 6 - 8, and high school level is 9 - 12. When students have completed the last grade at their current level, and advance to the next school level, their placement assignment for that next level will revert back to their neighborhood schools; any desired change from the neighborhood school will require parent/guardian to submit a new Intradistrict Transfer request Form.
Intradistrict requests are accepted at any time, however families are encouraged to consider transferring at the beginning of a school year which causes minimal disruption for the student; mid-year transfers are not recommended by the Administration. Parents will be notified of transfer decisions no later than five days before the school begins in the fall.
Please note that PAUSD does not guarantee transfers for siblings; an Intradistrict Transfer Request must be submitted for each individual student.
Use the following forms to apply for an Intradistrict Transfer; submit completed forms to Registration Services, located at the PAUSD District Office.
- Elementary School: Application for Intradistrict Transfer
- Middle School: Application for Intradistrict Transfer
- High School: Application for Intradistrict Transfer
Transferring out of PAUSD: Students who live within the boundaries of PAUSD and would like to attend school in another district must first submit an Interdistrict Transfer Request Form to the PAUSD Registration Services office. Transfers must be approved by PAUSD before submission to the district desired.
Transferring in to PAUSD: Due to continued high enrollment, PAUSD only approves Interdistrict Transfers due to severe hardship (limited to medical or safety issues) and senior privilege (only 12th grade PAUSD students who have been attending a PAUSD high school, moved out of Palo Alto and wish to finish 12th grade at the PAUSD high school). Students who meet the aforementioned qualifications and wish to request a transfer from their district of residence into PAUSD, must first obtain approval from their district of residence, and submit that approval along with a PAUSD Interdistrict Transfer Request to the PAUSD Registration Services office.
Gardner Bullis Elementary School
PAUSD has a joint arrangement with the Los Altos School District for PAUSD families living in Los Altos Hills to request up to 7-year transfers to Gardner Bullis Elementary School. Gardner Bullis school is located at 25890 Fremont Road, Los Altos Hills, CA. If you have a K-6 student and wish to consider this alternative, complete a PAUSD Interdistrict Transfer form and submit it to the PAUSD Registration Services office.