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Applying to Ohlone

Ohlone is a "Choice" school in the Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) and includes 2 programs: English-only Ohlone and Mandarin Immersion Ohlone. Both programs encompass the alternative education model. Admission to elementary-level Choice programs is granted through a lottery, and there are separate lotteries for each of the 2 programs at Ohlone.

There are 5 steps to follow to enter the Ohlone lottery for your incoming PAUSD Kindergarten student for the 2023-24 school year (Update: The lottery for the incoming Kindergarten class of 2023-24 has happened. If you want to add your child to the waitlist for Kindergarten through 5th grade, please scroll down to the info about **Applying for 1st-through 5th grades, or for Kindergarten if you missed the initial lottery, including all mid-year applications):

  1. Register your student with PAUSD
    Your child MUST be registered with the Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) prior to entering the Ohlone lottery. Information and forms are on the PAUSD website, and registration must occur between January 9 and February 24, 2023. Proof of residency must be supplied to register (See registration requirements). You must fully register your child by noon on February 24, 2023 in order to be eligible for the lottery draw.
  2. Read about our school
    We suggest starting with our 2 brochures about Ohlone and the Mandarin Immersion Program. The Ohlone website also has information about our school philosophy, our 7 Core Values, the Goals of an Ohlone Education, the Mandarin Immersion program, and more general information about our school.
  3. Prospective Parent Info Session
    Parents are required to attend one information session about Ohlone before applying to the lottery. The first meeting will be held on Zoom,and cover Ohlone as a whole. The morning meeting will be in person, and will include specific information about the Mandarin Immersion program. Advance registration is required. Each attendee must sign-up by clicking one of these links:
    Wednesday, January 25 at 6:30pm
    Tuesday, February 21 at 8:45am
  4. Complete your Lottery Form by the deadline
    After you attend a Prospective Parent Info Session, we will email you a link to the required lottery form. (If you do not receive one within a few days of attending an info session, please contact the Ohlone office.) You must submit the application form BEFORE4 PM on Friday,February 24, 2023 to be eligible for the lottery.

    Please remember that your student must be fully registered with the Palo Alto Unified School District before we can accept a lottery form from you and that you can submit a lottery form for ONLY ONE choice program (Ohlone or Mandarin Immersion or Spanish Immersion or Direct Instruction/Hoover)
  5. Await notification
    The elementary school choice program lotteries will be held by the District office on March 3, 2023-parents are welcome but not required to observe. After the Lottery is complete, parents will receive an email with their students' results (either offered placement or put on the numbered waitlist). If offered a placement, you must reply to the offer by the deadline (noon on March 8, 2023) specified in the email.

    If your child is placed on the waitlist, your waitlist spot will be rolled forward each year as long as your child is registered in the Palo Alto Unified School District AND you do not apply to any other Choice schools. You do not need to reapply each year but will be asked via email to confirm your continued interest each Spring.


  1. When vacancies arise in Choice schools, offers for admission are made first to siblings of concurrently attending students and then to students from the waitlist (in number order).
  2. Because the number of incoming siblings changes from year to year, the number of open spaces for incoming Kindergartners also varies, as does the number of applicants. For these reasons, we are unable to give you the odds of your child getting chosen in the lottery.
  3. Applications received after the initial Kindergarten lottery (for Kindergarten or older grades) are added to the bottom of the existing waitlist for that grade (see below for more information).
  4. Waitlists for each grade are carried forward year-to-year (although students must remain enrolled in PAUSD to stay on the waitlist).

**Applying for 1st through 5th grades (or for Kinder, after the initial lottery):

  1. Your student MUST be fully registered with Palo Alto Unified School District.
  2. Please read all about our school on this website (see links in Step 2 above).
  3. Please email ohlonesecretaries at to request an application.
  4. Each grade has a waitlist, and new applications will be added to the waitlist (for the appropriate grades) in the order received.
  5. If/when an opening occurs in a grade, we will offer a spot in waitlist order.
  6. If applying for Mandarin Immersion, any offer of placement after Kindergarten (i.e., 1st grade and above) is contingent upon successful grade-level assessment of Mandarin skills (reading, writing, and speaking).
  7. Students must remain enrolled in PAUSD to stay on a waitlist.