100.0 -- Registration and Enrollment Information
The following information is required to enroll a student in a Florida school. Please note that the student may not attend class until all documents are received.
- A certified birth certificate, which may be requested online from your birth state's health department.
- A Florida Certificate of Immunization, Form 680, completed by a Florida physician or by a Florida county health department.
- Florida Statute §1003.22 requires any child entering a Florida school for the first time to present documentation of a physical examination performed within one year prior to enrollment (registration date). This exam must include a review of all body systems (heart, skin, respiratory, etc.) performed by a licensed medical provider. The exam should indicate any condition which would warrant special considerations for the student at a school. The physical exam form must be readable (health department personnel can only accept exams in English), signed, dated and stamped by the provider, practicing physician or the county public health department.
- Official documentation that the parent(s) or guardian(s) is a legal resident(s) of the school district attendance area.
- Students who meet the definition of in transition/homeless under the McKinney-Vento Act can receive special assistance with school enrollment. For information on who qualifies as in transition/homeless see section 200.3.
100.1 — Immunizations Requirements for the Current School Year
Florida Statutes §1003.22 and §402.305 and Sarasota County School Board Rule 5.10 require that prior to admittance to or attendance in a public or non-public school, each student shall present or have on file with the school a Florida Certificate of Immunization (DH 680 form) from a licensed practicing physician or the county public health department. The student must have all required shots for the entering grade level.
For a list of immunization requirements for school, please visit the School Health website.
No-cost immunizations are available to eligible children through the federally-funded Vaccine for Children program at Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County. Call 941-861-2784 in Sarasota or 941-861-3850 in North Port for locations and hours of operation and appointments. Please email your child’s shot records to DOHSarasotaImmunizations@flhealth.gov or fax to 941-526-1532 to have the immunizations put on the DOH 680 form.
100.10 — Parent Portal Registration
In the Parent Portal, parents and guardians can review their student’s class schedule, attendance records, class assignments with grades, report card and communication from teachers. For instructions on how to register and use the Parent + Student Portal click here.
100.2 — Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK)
Florida’s Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) Program has a separate set of enrollment and attendance requirements, which are not included under the authority of public K-12 compulsory school attendance laws. The law allows a parent to voluntarily enroll an eligible child (four years old by September 1 and residing in Florida) in a free VPK program. (Note: A new law takes effect July1, 2016. Four-year-old children with birthdays from Feb. 2 through Sept.1 will be eligible to enroll in VPK that year or postpone it to the next year.)
For additional information regarding year-round VPK programming, including application procedures and dates to apply, please visit Florida’s Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) Program website through the Office of Early Learning at www.floridaearlylearning.com.
Sarasota County Schools intends to hold a VPK class during the summer of 2022. The program will total 300 hours of instruction focused on the Florida Standards for four-year-old students. (Please note: school bus transportation will not be provided.)
If you have questions regarding the Sarasota County Schools Summer VPK program, please contact Elementary Education.
100.3 — ESE Prekindergarten
The Prekindergarten (PK) Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Program for children with disabilities is operated by the Sarasota County School District. In addition to therapy services and classrooms at selected elementary schools, the school district contracts with several community agencies. Eligible students transition from the Early Steps program to Prekindergarten ESE programs upon their third birthday. Other potential students are referred through Child Find. These programs operate during regular school hours and follow the school calendar. Extended School Year (ESY) services are available during the summer for students that meet federal and state criteria. School bus transportation may be provided to the assigned school. To learn more about the Prekindergarten program for students with disabilities, call 941-927-9000, ext. 31271.
100.4 — Kindergarten
Florida law (§1003.2 1(1)(a)2 Fla. Stat.) specifies that children who have attained the age of five years on or before September 1 of the school year in question are eligible for admission to public kindergarten during that school year based on rules prescribed by the school board. Students are eligible for kindergarten attendance if they meet the age requirement.
Admission to a public kindergarten is not contingent upon what a child knows; if the child meets the age requirement, he or she is eligible for admission. The Florida Partnership for School Readiness has published “Performance Standards” for three-, four- and five-year-olds. Those standards reflect what children should know and be able to do. You may access that information and other resources from the Partnership’s website. In addition, the Florida Standards provide expectations for student achievement in Florida. More information on course standards and course descriptions is available at www.cpalms.org.
100.5 — Educational Choices
Most children are assigned to the school at their grade level that is closest to their home; however, student interests and needs may be accommodated through a variety of options and programs offered through School Choice. One choice might be attending a Charter or Magnet School program in the county. Some of these programs have specific entrance criteria. There is no cost to the student (or parent or guardian) for attending any charter or magnet program. For information about these programs, contact the school of interest directly or visit the district’s website, www.sarasotacountyschools.net, under School Choice.
100.5a — Controlled Open Enrollment (School Choice)
Controlled Open Enrollment (COE) provides parents/guardians living in Florida with the opportunity to apply to a school other than the one to which their child is assigned based on their residential address (also called districted school). A student who has been expelled or suspended from public school is not eligible to participate in COE. The parent/guardian must apply by completing an online COE application, which is available on the district website under School Choice each winter during a specific time period. Limited available spaces at each school open to COE are awarded to students through a random lottery. Some schools are closed to COE if their student enrollment is already at capacity. Parents must provide transportation for their children attending a school selected through the COE process. More information regarding the district’s COE (School Choice) program including enrollment deadlines, is available on the district’s website or by calling 941-927-9000, ext. 32258.
100.5b — Charter Schools
Charter schools are district-sponsored public schools designed to provide a choice in education. Because charter schools are public schools that receive public educational funds from the same monies given to traditional public schools, they don’t charge tuition or special fees. While these schools are dedicated to a specific purpose and focus, they meet the same standards as any other public school. Charter schools have their own governing board and are responsible for designing their academic program, hiring their own teachers, and controlling their own finances. These schools function largely independently under the terms of their contract or “charter” with the district. Currently, the Sarasota County School District supports a number of charter schools offering a variety of programs, from dual language and military training to a focus on the arts and sciences. A directory of charter schools is provided in this guide. Contact individual schools for information and application materials. See the directory in Section 7 of this handbook for specific schools and contact information.
100.5c — Home Education
Parents also have the choice of enrolling their child in a homeschool program. Parents are held responsible for educating their child. Parents must maintain a portfolio of work and submit a student academic evaluation annually. Students who have a pattern of nonattendance (truancy) may enroll in home school and will be required to comply with F.S. 1002.41 and F.S. 1002.26. For information on homeschooling, call 941-927-9000, ext. 32255. The Florida Parent-Educators Association publishes a guide for home-schoolers in Florida. A copy is available by calling toll-free 877-275-3732 or at www.fpea.com.
100.5d — Magnet Programs
Magnet programs are specialty programs housed within a district school. The programmatic specialties include visual and performing arts, the International Baccalaureate program and the Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education Program. Magnet programs are open to students who meet various eligibility requirements. Students apply directly to the school, not through the School Choice Program. For a complete listing of the available magnet programs, visit the district website or call the Office of School Choice and Charter Schools at 941-927-9000, ext. 32258.
100.5e — McKay Scholarship
The district participates in the McKay Scholarship program that is offered through the Florida Department of Education. Information about the McKay Scholarship Choice option is also given annually to the parents of K-12 students with a disability (SWD). This program allows eligible SWDs the opportunity to select a placement in a private school or selected public schools, including charter schools. A district school selected by a parent under the McKay Scholarship Program must not only have available space but must also have the resources to fully implement the student’s Individual Education Plan or 504 Accommodation Plan. McKay Scholarship applications are completed online at http://www.fldoe.org/schools/school-choice and “must” be received by the school district by July 1 for a child to be placed in a private school in the upcoming academic year and receive the full scholarship funding under the program. scholarship. Parents may learn more about this educational option by visiting the Florida Department of Education website at www.fldoe.org, the school district website at www.SarasotaCountySchools.net or by calling the district’s Office of School Choice Charter Schools at 941-927-9000, ext. 32255
100.5f — Sarasota Virtual School (SVS)
SVS is an interactive learning environment created through technology, in which the student and teacher are separated by time, space or both. Students access lessons and assignments and receive assessments via the Internet. The District contracts with four state and School Board approved outside virtual instruction providers (VIP): K12 Florida, Inc. (serves students in grades K-12), Edgenuity (serves students in grades 6-12), Florida Virtual School (serves students in grades K-12) and Connections Learning (serves students in grades K-12). SVS students have access to state-approved curriculum through each of the VIPs.
SVS offers one enrollment period annually for a minimum of 90 days prior to the beginning of the academic year the student is seeking to enroll. The enrollment period has announced a variety of ways including through district schools, news media, parent notification letters and on the district website. All students residing in Sarasota County have equitable access to SVS. Parents of ELL students must request an ELL Committee Meeting at their districted school prior to enrollment in SVS. Students with an IEP or 504 Accommodation Plan must request a meeting at their district school to review their existing plans prior to enrollment in SVS. Students in need of computers and internet service may contact the Sarasota County Technology Users Group (STUG) for assistance at 941-539-7401. In order to enroll in SVS, the student must meet the eligibility requirements set by state statute (F.S. 1002.455).
The following should be considered when choosing to enroll in SVS:
- Students enrolled in SVS must meet all standards and graduation requirements of the state and district.
- Students enrolled in SVS are entitled to participate in extracurricular activities at their districted school.
- SVS is a public school, and all enrolled students must take the appropriate grade level state required assessments (FSA reading, math, science, and civics, EOC, SAT 10, Fair, etc.).
- After completion of all graduation requirements, a student will be awarded a diploma from Sarasota Virtual School. SVS is a non-traditional learning environment, and an enrolled student is not entitled to participate in the traditional promotion or graduation ceremony at his or her districted school.
- Parents of student(s) in grades K-8 must commit to spending at least 2-4 hours per day as a learning coach for their child.
- Parents must attend an orientation session and/or personal interview with the Supervisor and/or Academic Advisor of Sarasota Virtual School prior to enrollment.
- Regular attendance and satisfactory completion of coursework are required for continuation in the school.
- Parents of ELL students must request an ELL Committee Meeting at their districted school prior to enrollment in SVS.
- Students may remain in SVS for any or all of their education in the district as long as they meet appropriate attendance and course requirements.
To learn more about this educational option, interested parents should contact Sarasota Virtual School at 941-924-1365, ext. 62347 or ext.62338 or by visiting www.gosva.com.
100.5g — Family Empowerment Scholarship Program
The Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES) is an income-based program that provides financial assistance towards the cost of an eligible K-12 student attending a private school (F.S. 1002.39). House Bill 7045 expanded the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program to include two branches of eligibility, the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Educational Options and the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Disabilities. Parents/Guardians who are interested in applying for the FES should contact a state-approved scholarship funding organization (SFO) to complete the income verification process. State-approved SFOs are listed on FL DOE’s website at http://www.fldoe.org/schools/school-choice/. Parents may learn more about these options for their child by visiting the Florida Department of Education website at www.fldoe.org, the school district website or by calling the district’s Office of School Choice and Charter Schools at 941-927-9000, ext. 32258
100.5h — Gardiner Scholarship Program
The Gardiner Scholarship Program is repealed as of July 1, 2021. These students are now eligible under the recently expanded Family Empowerment Scholarship Program.
100.5i — Hope Scholarship Program
The Hope Scholarship provides the parents of students who are in kindergarten through grade 12 and enrolled in a public school with the opportunity to transfer their students to another public school with space capacity or enroll in an approved private school when their students have been subjected to an incident of battery; harassment; hazing; bullying; kidnapping; physical attack; robbery; sexual offenses, harassment, assault, or battery; threat or intimidation; or fighting at their school, a bus stop or a school-sponsored event (F.S. 1002.40). Parents/guardians of children in public school may request a new learning environment when they believe their child is being bullied or is a victim of violence. Magnet schools such as Pine View, Bay Haven School of Basic Plus, Suncoast Polytechnical High School, and the district’s special school, Oak Park, have specific admissions requirements and deadlines and are not available through the Hope Scholarship Program. More information can be obtained by speaking with your child’s school principal (or designee) or by visiting the Florida Department of Education website, www.fldoe.org, or the district website, www.sarasotacountyschools.net.
100.6 — Sarasota County Schools Virtual Options
Sarasota Virtual School (full-time program), Sarasota Virtual Academy (part-time course offerings) are district-operated programs that offer students a variety of opportunities to access virtual instruction. These district-operated programs have highly qualified certified teachers that use state-approved curriculums and follow Sarasota County School Board policies, procedures, and guidelines. Additional details about these programs are available at www.gosva.com.
The district’s K-12 students also have access to the part-time or full-time virtual programs offered by Florida Virtual School (FLVS). To learn more about FLVS’s virtual options, you may speak with your school counselor or visit the FLVS web page at www.flvs.net.
100.7— Specialized School Programs
The school district provides a variety of opportunities for students with special needs.
The Teen Parent Programs at Riverview High School and North Port High School was designed with the goal of encouraging pregnant students and school-age parents or remain in school in order to earn a high school diploma or its equivalent. Other goals include improving students’ academic performance in the basic skills areas, increasing their knowledge of health and child development related to pregnancy and parenting, and reducing the incidence of complications of pregnancy, and low-birth-weight babies. Students will continue to develop a strong connection between their academic achievement and their postsecondary education and career goals. This program will not only meet the immediate needs of young parents and their children but will also enable them to become self-sustaining members of society.
Oak Park is a school designed to educate students with significant physical, emotional or cognitive disabilities. The decision for placement at Oak Park School is made by the Individual Education Plan team. For more information on the educational programs at Oak Park, contact the ESE Liaison at your child’s school or the Exceptional Student Education department at 941-927-9000.
Intellectually gifted students may receive services in several different school settings, including Pine View School for students in grades 2-12. Your child’s districted school can provide information regarding entry criteria for Pine View or other gifted magnet programs offered throughout the school district for intellectually gifted students. Call 941-927-4177 for more information regarding the district's gifted programs.
The Academy for Community Transition is located on the campus of Suncoast Technical College (STC). This program is designed to provide individualized transition planning. The goal is to assist motivated students ages 18-21 in developing skills to be successful participants and active consumers in their community.
100.8 — Alternative Schools
Alternative schools are designed for students who have had difficulty in the traditional school environment or have been in trouble with the law. These schools offer specialized programs designed to help students with behavior management while they earn school credit. More information is available in Section 701.6 of this publication or by calling the school district’s Pupil Support Services – Alternative Programs at 941-927-9000.
100.9 — Title I Education/Services
Title I, Part A of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the “Every Student Succeeds Act” of 2015, provides supplemental educational services for eligible public and private school students to assist those children in acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to meet challenging student performance standards.
Title I funds promote:
- High academic achievement for all children
- A greater focus on teaching and learning
- Flexibility to foster local initiatives coupled with responsibility for student performance
- Improved connections among schools, parents, and communities
Parents may find one or more of the following in a Title I school:
- Intervention classes providing intensive assistance in reading, math, writing, and/or science
- Additional resource teachers and paraprofessionals/ assistants who are highly qualified
- Additional training for school staff
- A variety of teaching methods and materials
- Special learning events for parents and families
- Training for parents and families to help their child/children do better in school
- Extended day and year programs such as before and after school tutoring and/or summer programs
Title I provides supplemental funding that may be used towards additional instructional staff, professional development, extended learning programs, and other strategies for raising student achievement.
Critical program elements of Title I Schools include
- Comprehensive needs assessment and schoolwide plan (also known as the Schoolwide Improvement Plan with Parent and Family Engagement Policies embedded)
- Support for neglected and delinquent and migrant students
- Coordination of services for homeless students
- State certified teachers and paraprofessionals in the grade level and subject area assigned
- Professional development
Title I schools will provide parents and families of participating children with:
- Timely information about Title I programs
- A description and explanation of the curriculum used by the school;
- Academic assessments - such as the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) and i-Ready - used to measure student progress and the proficiency levels students are expected to meet; and
- Opportunities for regular meetings to formulate suggestions and to participate, as appropriate, in decisions relating to the education of their children, if requested by parents, and to respond to any such suggestions as soon as possible.
100.9a — Title I School Selection
Schools are ranked annually by using the Public School Eligibility Survey (PSES) which identifies the percentage of students ages 5-17 receiving free and reduced-cost meals as a measure of the percentage of students from low-income families. Schools with 75 percent or more students receiving free and reduced-cost meals are eligible for school-wide Title I status. Sarasota County Schools aso serves traditional elementary schools at or above 63% free or reduced lunch rates (as measured by PSES). This means that all students attending a school-wide status Title I school are eligible for services. A school’s eligibility from one school year to the next may change as the income of the families of the student population change. Students attending a Title I school will receive services based on an assessment of the school’s needs, which are summarized in the Schoolwide Improvement Plan (SIP) with Parent and Family Engagement Policies embedded created annually. The SIP is available at the school and can be found on the district website. Parents are invited to contact the school to provide input on the SIP.
100.9b — Parental Involvement
All parents are encouraged to become involved in the education of their children. The role of a parent is vital to the success of his or her child’s education. Research reveals that high student achievement, self-esteem, positive attitudes, better behavior and motivation to do well in school are closely related to positive parental involvement in education. As a result, students whose parents are involved and supportive tend to have higher grades and test scores, better attendance and more consistently completed homework. These students also have a higher graduation rate and a higher percentage of enrollment in post-secondary education.
Annually, all Title I schools develop Parent and Family Engagement policies embedded in the Schoolwide Improvement Plan (SIP). Parents of children who attend Title I designated schools are invited to give input, suggestions, ideas, and opinions on:
- The Schoolwide Improvement Plan (SIP) with Parent and Family Engagement Policies embedded also known as the Title I Schoolwide Plan
- The Sarasota Parent and Family Engagement Policy
- The Home-School Compact
- How Title I Parent and Family Engagement Funds should be spent
The Schoolwide Improvement Plan with Parent and Family Engagement Policies embedded are available at Title I schools and on the district and school websites. Each Title I school has materials available to provide information and support for parents.
Parents’ Right to Know
Parents have the right to request information regarding the professional qualifications of classroom teachers and paraprofessionals who provide instruction and work with their child.
Federal law allows you to ask for certain information about your child’s teachers and/or paraprofessionals and requires the school to give you this information in a timely manner.
Specifically, you have the right to ask for the following information:
- Whether the Florida Department of Education has licensed or qualified the teacher for the grades and subjects he or she teaches.
- Whether the Florida Department of Education has decided that the teacher can teach in a classroom without being licensed or qualified under state regulations because of certain circumstances.
- The teacher’s college or major; whether the teacher has any advanced degrees, if so, the subjects and degrees.
- Whether any teachers’ aides or similar paraprofessionals provide services to your child and, if they do, their qualifications.
- The level of achievement of your child on each of the State academic assessments
Requests for this information should be presented in writing to the school. The school will provide the requested information to the parent in a timely manner.
100.9c — District Report Card
The state of Florida has rated Sarasota County an “A” district.