Parent Survival Guide
Absences & Tardies
Parents/guardians have 72 hours or three days to clear an absence or tardy. They can either call the Attendance Office (933-4017) or write a note, which must include the following information:
1) Student’s name
2) Date of absence or class period missed
3) Reason for absence
If you know in advance that your student will be absent from school (e.g., a doctor or dental appointment), you can contact the school by phone at (707) 933-4017 or in writing to inform them of the day and time of the expected absence. Students are required to sign out of school at the attendance office and to sign back in when they return to campus.
Absences will be excused for health reasons, family emergencies and permissible personal circumstances including but not limited to juvenile detention, court appearances, funeral services, religious holidays and employment interviews. If a student has an excused absence, the student will be allowed to make up school work for full credit within a reasonable time period negotiated with individual teachers.
All absences should be cleared with the attendance office whether they are excused or unexcused. Unexcused absences include, but are not limited to, oversleeping, car trouble, family vacations, and unverified absences. Teachers are not required to give credit to students when absences are unexcused.
If students are marked absent from a class in error, it is the student’s responsibility to correct the record by notifying the Attendance Office. Parents will receive an automated phone call informing them that one or more teachers marked their student absent that day. If you have more than one high school student, the computerized system will not distinguish which student was marked absent. A second message will be left on your voicemail if the Attendance Office has not received a written excuse or phone call from the parent or guardian.
Athletes will often be granted early dismissal from classes for off-campus meets and competitions. It is advisable for students to make arrangements in advance for missed work and assignments. Teachers are not required to offer extensions for missed work or exams.
For more detailed information about attendance policy, please consult the following document:
Block & Bell Schedules, A+ & Advisory, Course Selection
Schedules & Courses
Block Schedule/Bell Schedule
SVHS operates on what is called a Block Schedule, in which each day alternates between an “A” and “B” day. Students attend half of their required six periods on “A” day and half on “B” day, illustrated in the table below. Each class period consists of 90 minutes of instruction. Wednesdays or “C” day is an exception in that students attend all of their classes in a compressed timeframe. The high school refers to the schedule below as the “Bell Schedule” since it indicates the time at which the bell rings at the start and end of classes.
You will notice from the Bell Schedule above that students attend A+ periods every day for 50 minutes (11:55-12:45) except Wednesdays. A+ periods serve as a study hall for students to do homework and get help from teachers. For A+, students rotate through all of their teachers from Period 1 through Period 6. For example, within a six-day cycle, they will attend an A+ period with all of their teachers. This allows students to get help from all of their teachers. Even if students don’t need help from the A+ teacher of the day, they can request a permission slip to go get help from any teacher during the A+ period. One of the complaints from students about the A+ system is that some AP teachers use A+ periods for instruction, so students are reluctant to leave to get help in other classes.
Students typically make their schedule requests in February or March for the following academic year. They normally fill out a schedule request form, often without parent knowledge or approval. Therefore, it is important for students and parents to browse the course catalog in order to familiarize themselves with graduation and minimum college admission requirements for the University of California system (called A-G requirements) before schedule requests are finalized.
It is also highly recommended that parents and students fill out an academic plan for all four years in order to make sure that course selection aligns with graduation and college admission requirements. You can download the organizational tool HERE:
New & Incoming Students
All new incoming students to the district are required to fill out the registration form and schedule a meeting with a school counselor in order to enroll in classes most appropriate for the student. Download the registration form here.
Every freshman is assigned to one of three teams: Fuji, Mauna Kea and Olympus. The purpose of freshman teams is to make the transition to high school less intimidating by creating smaller learning communities within the larger school setting. Each team is assigned to the same core teachers for math, science, English and P.E., which facilitates collaboration and coordination of assignments among teachers. The freshman team model has shown to increase student engagement, improve attendance and provide an additional support system as students fully transition to the demands and rigor of high school.
The high school prides itself on its “Open Enrollment” policy, which allows students to enroll in any course, regardless of course prerequisites. The original intention was to allow all students to access advanced placement (AP) courses. That said, it is not advisable for students to enroll in classes for which they are inadequately prepared.
“Singleton” courses refer to courses only offered in a single period. “Singletons” typically exist because there is not sufficient demand to justify more than one section of a particular course. As a result, it is difficult for the high school to accommodate student schedule requests when more than one singleton is requested. Sometimes a student gets lucky, but often there are schedule conflicts which require students to choose between two classes. Calculus AB is an example of a singleton course because it is only offered one time during the day at zero period (7:20am start time).
Making Class Schedule Changes
It is important that students choose carefully when making course requests, because schedule changes are discouraged by the counseling department. If a student finds himself/herself in a situation where it is imperative to make a schedule change, students must do so within the first two weeks of each semester. There are a few exceptions to the two-week rule for example, if new course sections are added or deleted from the Master Schedule, or if students want to increase or decrease the level of course difficulty (e.g., change from Spanish 2 to Spanish 3 or change from AP Physics to regular physics).
Students must fill out a schedule change request form available from the counseling department.
A student may drop a course up until the 6-week grading period, but will receive a “NM” or No Mark, which will be reflected on the transcript. Parent approval is required to drop a course. Students who drop a course after the 6-week grading period will receive an “F” on his/her transcript. Read here for a more detailed description of school guidelines.
PowerSchool & Grades
PowerSchool is the portal used to monitor and report student absences and grades. The school provides an initial username and password to access the web portal https://powerschool.sonomavly.k12.ca.us/public/, which typically is printed on your student’s class schedule distributed at registration. If you don’t have a copy of your student’s schedule, you can obtain the login information by calling your student’s counselor. Their contact information is listed below.
Department Head, Bilingual Counselor
Beyond the Bulletin
Coffee with the Principal
Coffee with the Principal is a monthly gathering for SVHS parents to meet with SVHS principal, Kathleen Hawing and various other faculty for informal discussions about selected topics important to parents with students at SVHS.
All SVHS parents are welcome and there is no fee for admission. Submitting an RSVP is recommended and can be done HERE.
Filing a Complaint
The school district encourages families and students to resolve grievances directly with the parties involved before escalating to school administration, superintendent, and board of trustees. If a resolution is not satisfactory, families/students have several options for escalating the concern/complaint, which are described below.
Filing Complaints Involving District Employees
Administrative Regulation 1312.1 defines the procedure for filing complaints against district personnel. All complaints should be submitted in writing to the direct supervisor of the personnel, either the school principal, Superintendent, or Board of Trustees. Investigating staff will attempt to resolve the issue to the satisfaction of all parties within 30 days. An appeal of the decision can be made to the Superintendent within 30 days. The Superintendent will submit a written report of the complaint to the Board of Trustees, before formal consideration of the complaint by the Board. The Board has the authority to uphold the decision of the Superintendent without hearing the complaint.
A written complaint should include the following information, and the form can be downloaded HERE.
- Full name of each employee involved
- Summary of the complaint, with facts
- Description of any prior attempt to discuss/resolve the conflict directly with employee
Uniform Complaint Procedures
The Uniform Complaint Procedures are expressly for situations in which a school district has allegedly failed to meet its state or federal legal obligations or is in violation of unlawful discrimination. For a comprehensive description of the areas covered by the procedures, download the full document HERE.
Complaints will be investigated by the district and must be filed no later than six months after the alleged violation. The district is required to provide a written response within 60 days from the date of filing. Plaintiffs can file an appeal with the State of California Department of Education within 15 days of receiving a written decision.
Filing a complaint, reporting instances of discrimination, or other participation in the complaint procedure shall not in any way affect the status, grades, or work assignments of a student or employee of the district. Anyone who feels he or she has been subjected to retaliation shall report the matter to the compliance officer who is processing the underlying complaint.
OCR(Office for Civil Rights) Complaint
Anyone who believes that an education institution that receives federal funding has discriminated against someone on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age can file a complaint. The person filing need not be the victim of the alleged discrimination, but may file on behalf of another person or group. In addition, it is not necessary to use the school’s grievance process first (i.e. Uniform Complaint Procedures as described in Option 2). The OCR complaint must be filed within 180 days of the alleged discrimination.
Visit the website SAVEVI.org, which describes your rights under Title VI and the procedures for filing a complaint.
A Helping Hand
A+ periods are designed expressly for students to get help from teachers. Most teachers make themselves available before school and during lunch to help students. However, if students would like to hire a tutor, the College and Career Center publishes a list of peer tutors. Contact Lisa Conner in the College and Career Center at (707) 933-4010 x 5116, or at email@example.com
The Sonoma Valley Library also offers free homework help on Tuesdays after school from 3:30-5:30.