Alternative Education Programs

New Rule for School: Pertussis shot required for students grade 7 through 12

  • Academic Achievement
  • Social Skills Development
  • Vocational Preparation

The retirement party of Michael Watkins will be a chance to celebrate his career, while honoring his legacy. In lieu of gifts, please consider donating to the Michael C. Watkins Alternative Education Scholarship Fund. Proceeds from your generous donation will go to a scholarship fund that will be available to students in the Santa Cruz County Office of Education’s Alternative Education program seeking to continue their college and career education.  Michael Watkins has been a champion for underprivileged students for 40 years. By contributing to the Michael C. Watkins fund these scholarships will be available to our community’s youth for many years to come.

*Aside from the small fee that is charged by Eventbrite and PayPal, 100% of your donation will go towards the costs of higher education for selected students.

Alternative Education Programs Staff Handbook 2018-19  (PDF – 11.6 MB)

Overview of Alt. Ed Programs  (PDF)

Alt. Ed School Sites

Online Course Login

Articles about Alternative Education

Our Mission

The mission of the Santa Cruz County Office Alternative Education Program is to provide a safe, supportive learning environment that empowers students to achieve academic, social, and vocational excellence.

Graduate daughter gets a hugPhilosophy

We believe that the educational success of our students is dependent upon quality academic and affective programs, which are supported by a healthy organization, our students’ families, and effective community partnerships. Our programs are student-centered and adapt to meet individual needs. We value personal and professional development. Staff works collaboratively to facilitate learning and change.

We believe that:

  • All students can learn.
  • All students can grow socially and emotionally to become productive citizens.
  • Each student should be given the opportunity to fully develop his/her potential.
  • There is a need to facilitate learning by drawing on individual strengths and learning styles.
  • Structured educational environments and programs help our students to learn.
  • Each student has a right to a physically and emotionally safe environment that is conducive to learning.
  • There is a need to embrace diversity.
  • Collaborative relationships are essential in delivering quality services and effective programs to our students.
  • We are accountable through evaluation of students and programs.

The Instruction

Dedicated teachers assist students to achieve social, interpersonal and academic success. They inspire students to develop their greatest potential. Low student-to-teacher ratios are provided in a variety of K-12 educational environments. Fourteen Alternative Education campuses provide individual, small group and community based instruction. This personalized approach allows students to develop the fundamental skills needed for achievement.


Students learn about life outside their neighborhoods by participating in interscholastic sports programs and community arts projects. Through experiences in music, drama, poetry, video production and the visual arts, students are able to develop the confidence needed to live a healthy lifestyle.


Graduating student on stageHigh school students are able to earn credit towards graduation and develop employment skills.

Students who complete the program transition to their neighborhood school, attend college or find success in the world of work.


Alternative Education Programs have formed effective community partnerships that successfully support student programs. Community based organizations and government agencies help coordinate student services, administer grants and implement community projects. These interagency collaborations offer counseling, supervision and wellness programs for teenagers.


Alternative Education Programs serve students who can benefit from a small school setting.

Students must be referred by their local school district, School Attendance Review Board, Social Services or the Probation Department.

For placement consideration, please contact the Alternative Education Programs at (831) 466-5728.

Articles about Alternative Education:

Students from Ponderosa High School Participate in 2016 Santa Cruz Forestry Challenge
Santa Cruz Alternative High School Students Build Pies from Earth Up
Ponderosa High Students Clean up Lompico Park
Santa Cruz Alternative Education Students Urged to ‘Find Your Passion’
Safe Havens for Optimal Learning: Professional Development in Alternative Education
Alternative Education Programs January 2015 Graduations
Alternative Education Launches Trauma-Informed Care Initiative
Harvest Festival Brings 300 Students to UCSC Farm—Food, What?! Nonprofit Teaches Life Skills
Strawberry Blast at UCSC Introduces Youth to Food Issues
Students Graduate from Santa Cruz County Office of Education’s Alternative Education Program
Alternative Education Students from SOS tour Cabrillo’s Solari Green Technology Center in Watsonville and Envision Future Careers
Natural Bridges High School Students Prepare Haut Surf Shop for Mural
Article in Habitat for Humanity Summer 2013 Newletter
Two Alternative Education Programs Partner with Habitat for Humanity
Ponderosa Boat Works Sails Through Summer School

Santa Cruz County Office of Education Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) (2018-19)

English  (PDF)

School Accountability Report Card (SARC)

Community Schools
2016-17 English  (PDF)2016-17 Spanish (PDF)
Court Schools
2016-17 English  (PDF)2016-17 Spanish (PDF)

Comprehensive School Safety Plan

Single Plan for Student Achievement – Court

Single Plan for Student Achievement – Community

Local Educational Agency (LEA) Plan

Free and Reduced Lunch Applications

English  (PDF)    Spanish  (PDF)

District Advisory Committee (DAC)

District English Learner Advisory Committee (DELAC)

English Language Acquisition Consortium (ELAC)

DELAC Minutes 4/30/16  (PDF)
DELAC Minutes 12/01/15  (PDF)
DAC Minutes 4/15/15  (PDF)
DELAC Minutes 4/15/15  (PDF)
DAC Minutes 4/7/13  (PDF)
DELAC Minutes 4/7/13  (PDF)
DELAC/ELAC Agenda 4/17/12  (PDF)
DELAC/ELAC Minutes 4/17/12  (PDF)
DELAC/ELAC Agenda 5/14/12  (PDF)
DELAC/ELAC Agenda 5/14/12  (PDF)
ELAC Survey (English)  (PDF)
ELAC Survey (Spanish)  (PDF)


New law for 7 through 12 grade students requires Pertussis Shot  (PDF)
Plan for Educating Expelled Students  (PDF)
Foster Youth Services
Career Locker