Welcome to the Department of Alternative Education



“Putting Students First”

“Putting Students First”

The mission of the Department of Alternative Education reflects our district’s commitment to student success as accomplished through our district and state Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP, Goals 1-4).

The mission of the Department of Alternative Education is to ensure excellence in teaching and learning so each student is prepared to succeed in college and career (LCAP #1).  This mission is accomplished by:

  • Creating safe and healthy learning environments for each student by building a culture of equity and a positive climate that promotes excellence through the services we provide (LCAP #2).
  • Fostering and honoring parent/guardian and community engagement to support excellence in each student’s success (LCAP #3).
  • Developing coherent and transparent systems for operational excellence to support each student’s success (LCAP #4).


The Department of Alternative Education provides learning opportunities and services for students in non-traditional settings. These educational services include individualized approaches to an education such as; flexible hours, self-paced instruction with teacher support, advanced technological access, and an open-entry / open-exit, personalized education at numerous comprehensive high school campuses and off-site satellite locations throughout the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD). Alternative pathways and instructional and curricular strategies are utilized to assist students in reaching their academic goals. Students electing to pursue their learning through services offered by the Department of Alternative Education are expected to reach the state standards, participate in all local and state mandated assessments, and meet SUHSD graduation requirements in order to receive a diploma.

Services Offered Through Alternative Education:

High School Learning Center – Independent Study (on campus):

Learning Centers are located on all of the 12 SUHSD high school campuses and provide students with an alternative way of reaching educational goals. In the Learning Center classroom environments, students are offered one-on-one, personalized learning on campus with a student commitment to self-paced independent learning at home. Students attend these centers for two hour blocks, five days a week, and are expected to maintain attendance to remain in the program. Learning Center students are subject to the district’s rigorous standards so they receive the same diploma as the students in the comprehensive high schools. Students may apply to a Learning Center through a team decision process initiated on the main campus involving administration, counseling, parent(s) and the student.

Independent Study (off campus / satellite):

Independent Study (off campus / satellite) is located in four areas throughout the district. The locations include; Central – Chula Vista, North – National City, South – San Ysidro and West – Southwest High School Campus.  Independent Study is voluntary and adequate progress needs to be made in order to remain in the program. Students must be able to do the work at home (20-30 hours of homework a week) and maintain their once per week meetings with a teacher at the Independent Study, off campus location. Most students work on one course/class at a time, and they’re required to complete a course/class in three weeks. Attendance is based on the amount of work produced; therefore, students must complete a minimum amount of work to remain in Independent Study. Students must have self-initiative, good work habits, and good reading skills to succeed. Students will be returned to the home school or the referring school if the required progress is not met. Independent Study students must pass all competencies as any other student. Students earning a high school diploma while on Independent Study will retain all rights at the resident school and a regular high school diploma issued by the resident school. Students may apply to Independent Study through a team decision process initiated on the main campus involving administration, counseling, parent(s) and the student.

Home Hospital Education:

Home Hospital Education is for students who are temporarily unable to attend school due to a variety of medical reasons. Students must have a physician’s (medical doctor) note that includes the medical diagnosis, the reason for limited mobility, and the approximate duration of time that requires the student to be absent from regular, daily attendance in a comprehensive school setting. Most of the time students are seen at home. Students are referred for six or more weeks. Teachers may make home visits if a student is physically unable to attend meetings. Traditional or individualized curriculum is available based on need. Students may only be referred to Home Hospital Education through a team decision process initiated on the main campus involving administration, counseling, parent(s) and the student.

Teen Parent Education:

Teen Parent Education (TPE) is a voluntary program designed to help pregnant and teen mothers complete their high school education while becoming informed regarding pregnancy, labor, delivery, infant care, and proper nutrition. Students work at their own pace, and they receive a program based on their particular needs. They also receive academic, career and personal counseling, assistance with community services, and “Mom & Me” enrichment program.  Any pregnant girl and/or teen mother in grades 7th-12th living within the Sweetwater Union High School District is eligible to enroll.

Community Day School:

The Community Day School is an educational program in the Sweetwater Union High School District for students in grades 7-9. The service offers three self-contained classrooms and students work with one teacher and one instructional aide throughout the school day at a low student to teacher ratio. The school is designed to help students learn how to be successful young people by focusing on such things as daily attendance, behavior, and decision making.  As part of Department of Alternative Education, teachers at the Community Day School adhere to SUHSD required courses of study.  Students participate in all required district and state academic performance testing programs.  Student work is evaluated and credits are earned in accordance with SUHSD grading policies.  CDS offers 360 minutes per day of direct instruction daily (P.E. is included in this time.)  The program is located at 505 ½ Elm Avenue in Imperial Beach, CA (adjacent to the Mar Vista High School campus).  District transportation is available.