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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 open 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 2021-22 school year (**see below for info about applying for 1st-through 5th grades, or for Kindergarten if you missed the initial lottery):

  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 4 and February 17, 2021. Proof of residency must be supplied to register (See registration requirements). You must register your child by noon on February 17, 2021 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 Webinar
    Parents are required to attend an information session (online this year) about Ohlone before applying to the lottery. Both meetings will cover information about Ohlone as a whole as well as Mandarin Immersion-specific information, so you may attend either date (you do NOT need to attend both). Meetings are held via Zoom and advance registration is required. Each attendee must sign-up by clicking one of these links:

    January 25, 2021 at 6:30pm
    February 11, 2021 at 6:30pm
  4. Complete your Lottery Form by the deadline
    After attending a Prospective Parent Webinar, we will email you a link to the required lottery forms. (If you do not receive one within a few days of attending an info session, please contact the Ohlone office.) You must complete the applicable form BEFORENOON on Wednesday,February 17, 2021to 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 at the District office (via Zoom) at 3:30pm on February 25, 2021 (parents are welcome to 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 noon on March 2, 2021.

    Your child's application 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. You can see the 2021 lottery statistics here.
  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.
  4. Waitlists for each grade are carried forward year-to-year.

**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.