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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 2024-25 school year (Update: The lottery for the current 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. Priority registration for the 2024-25 school year is from January 11, 2024 to February 23, 2024. Proof of residency must be supplied to register (see registration requirements). You must fully register your child by February 23, 2024 in order to be eligible for the lottery draw.
  2. Prospective Parent Info Session
    Parents are highly encouraged to attend one information session about Ohlone before applying to the lottery. The first info session will be held on Zoom, and cover Ohlone as a whole. The morning info session will be in person, and will include specific information about the Mandarin Immersion program. We also offer short tours of the school for prospective parents. Advance registration for the tour and the in-person meeting are required:
    • Ohlone Choice Program Info Night:
      January 24, 2024, 6:30 - 7:30pm
    • Prospective Parents School tour (for attendees of the virtual meeting):
      February 13, 2024, 9:00 - 9:30am
    • Ohlone Choice Program Info Session (In person, includes tour):
      February 20, 2024, 8:30 - 9:45am
    • Slides: Ohlone Prospective Parents Info Session
                  MI Prospective Parents Info Session
  3. Complete your Lottery Form by the deadline
    After attending a Prospective Parent Info Session, you can submit a Choice Program Application for the 2024-25 school year here. You must submit the application BEFORE 4 PM on February 23, 2024 to be eligible for the lottery.

    Please remember that your student must be fully registered with the Palo Alto Unified School District and that you can only apply for ONE choice program (Ohlone or Mandarin Immersion or Spanish Immersion or Direct Instruction/Hoover).
  4. Await notification
    The Elementary School Choice Program lotteries will be held by the District office on March 1, 2024. If offered a placement, you must reply to the offer by the Choice Program Acceptance deadline (March 6, 2024, 4pm).

    If your child is placed on the waitlist, their 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 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.