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Alternative Education Programs

Supporting Families With Alternative Education Options

Alternative Education Programs are unique educational programs for adolescents who have had limited success in traditional school settings. Over 1,000 students are served annually, receiving individual and small group instruction in a friendly and supportive environment. The focus of the program is on academics, independent living skills, school-to-work transition and self-esteem. Students can receive a high school diploma or prepare for the California High School Proficiency and/or General Education Development (GED) examinations.

Dr. Faris Sabbah
Dr. Faris Sabbah
John Rice
Senior Director, Alternative Education Program
(831) 466-5724

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.

Our Philosophy

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.


High 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.

painting of yellow and red flower

A Study of Artists at DeWitt

In 2019, the Santa Cruz COE received a Student Support and Enrichment Grant from the California Department of Education

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Sequoia Schools Teacher Spotlight: Michele Delibert

Michele Delibert, a math teacher at Sequoia High School in Watsonville, takes the phrase “goes above and beyond” to the next level.

man wearing hat sits at picnic table in park

Lighthouse Student and Potential Eagle Scout Transforms School Garden

Students at Lighthouse High School are enjoying their new beautiful garden thanks to Senior Joe Briskey and his Eagle Scout project.

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

Expanded Learning Opportunities Plan

District English Learner Advisory Committee (DELAC)
English Language Acquisition Consortium (ELAC)

School Site Council (SSC)

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