Santa Cruz County Office of Education Photo montage
Alternative Education Contact Info

John Rice
John Rice
Senior Director
Alternative Education Program
(831) 466-5724

John Armstrong
Alternative Education Program
(831) 466-5728

Denise Sanson
Assistant Director
Alternative Education Program
(831) 466-5739

Rosa Rosas
Department Office Coordinator, AEP
(831) 466-5722

Michael Paynter
Manager, Student Services
Foster Youth Services, AEP
(831) 466-5729

Melissa Gomez
Pupil Data Specialist II, AEP
(831) 466-5725

Sandra Pedroza
Pupil Data Specialist, AEP
(831) 466-5728

Cheryl Carrasco
Pupil Data Specialist, AEP
(831) 466-5770

Denise Pitman-Rosas
Guidance Counselor II, AEP and Project Coordinator/BASTA
(831) 466-5736

Julia (Jules) Skelton
Fiscal Accountant
(831) 466-5721

Main phone #: (831) 466-5728
Fax #: (831) 466-5730

Alternative Education Program Pages
Student & Personnel Services: Alternative Education

Alternative Education ProgramsNew Rule for School: Pertussis shot required for students grade 7 through 12

  • Academic Achievement
  • Social Skills Development
  • Vocational Preparation

Alternative Education Programs Staff Handbook 2015-16

Overview of Alt. Ed Programs

Alt. Ed School Sites

Online Course Login

Watch a new video about the Alternative Education program!

Articles about Alternative Education

Alternative Education Graduation 2010

Our Mission

The mission of the Santa Cruz County Office Alternative Education Program is to provide a safe, supportive learning environment that empowers students to achieve academic, social, and vocational excellence.



We believe that the educational success of our students is dependent upon quality academic and affective programs, which are supported by a healthy organization, our students' families, and effective community partnerships. Our programs are student-centered and adapt to meet individual needs. We value personal and professional development. Staff works collaboratively to facilitate learning and change.

We believe that:

  • All students can learn.
  • All students can grow socially and emotionally to become productive citizens.
  • Each student should be given the opportunity to fully develop his/her potential.
  • There is a need to facilitate learning by drawing on individual strengths and learning styles.
  • Structured educational environments and programs help our students to learn.
  • Each student has a right to a physically and emotionally safe environment that is conducive to learning.
  • There is a need to embrace diversity.
  • Collaborative relationships are essential in delivering quality services and effective programs to our students.
  • We are accountable through evaluation of students and programs.

Alternative Education Classroom View Alternative Education Programs: A Different Path
(Large file, 196 MB, 20 minute movie. May take awhile to download.
For best results, download first, then play.)

View Alternative Education Programs presentation.
(8 MB movie. Both movies require Quicktime Player.)


The Instruction

Dedicated teachers assist students to achieve social, interpersonal and academic success. They inspire students to develop their greatest potential. Low student-to-teacher ratios are provided in a variety of K-12 educational environments. Fourteen Alternative Education campuses provide individual, small group and community based instruction. This personalized approach allows students to develop the fundamental skills needed for achievement.


Students learn about life outside their neighborhoods by participating in interscholastic sports programs and community arts projects. Through experiences in music, drama, poetry, video production and the visual arts, students are able to develop the confidence needed to live a healthy lifestyle.


Graduation image The Alternative Education Programs are fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the curriculum is aligned with state educational frameworks.

High school students are able to earn credit towards graduation and develop employment skills.

Students who complete the program transition to their neighborhood school, attend college or find success in the world of work.


Alternative Education Programs have formed effective community partnerships that successfully support student programs. Community based organizations and government agencies help coordinate student services, administer grants and implement community projects. These interagency collaborations offer counseling, supervision and wellness programs for teenagers.


Alternative Education Programs serve students who can benefit from a small school setting.

Students must be referred by their local school district, School Attendance Review Board, Social Services or the Probation Department.

For placement consideration, please contact the Alternative Education Programs at (831) 466-5728.

Articles about Alternative Education:

Safe Havens for Optimal Learning: Professional Development in Alternative Education
Alternative Education Programs January 2015 Graduations
Alternative Education Launches Trauma-Informed Care Initiative
Harvest Festival Brings 300 Students to UCSC Farm—Food, What?! Nonprofit Teaches Life Skills
Strawberry Blast at UCSC Introduces Youth to Food Issues
Students Graduate from Santa Cruz County Office of Education's Alternative Education Program
Alternative Education Students from SOS tour Cabrillo's Solari Green Technology Center in Watsonville and Envision Future Careers
Natural Bridges High School Students Prepare Haut Surf Shop for Mural
Article in Habitat for Humanity Summer 2013 Newletter
Two Alternative Education Programs Partner with Habitat for Humanity
Construction Technology Pilots at Ponderosa and Natural Bridges High Schools
Ponderosa Boat Works Sails Through Summer School
Perfecting Their Craft: Ponderosa Boat Works students learn about sailing from stem to stern
High school students build paths, leadership skills at Pogonip and also KSBW news item on this
Alternative Education Students Gain Career and Life Skills through Ponderosa High School's Boat Works Program

Santa Cruz County Office of Education Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) (updated 2015) (approved by the Santa Cruz COE board on 6/18/15 and the CDE on 9/15/15)

English          Spanish

School Accountability Report Card (SARC)

Community Schools
2013-14 English    2013-14 Spanish

Court Schools
2013-14 English    2013-14 Spanish

Single Plan for Student Achievement - Court

Single Plan for Student Achievement - Community

Local Educational Agency (LEA) Plan

Alternative Education Programs Staff Handbook 2015-16

District Advisory Committee (DAC)

District English Learner Advisory Committee (DELAC)

English Language Acquisition Consortium (ELAC)

  DAC Minutes 4/15/15
  DELAC Minutes 4/15/15
  DAC Minutes 4/7/13
  DELAC Minutes 4/7/13
  DELAC/ELAC Agenda 4/17/12
  DELAC/ELAC Minutes 4/17/12
  DELAC/ELAC Agenda 5/14/12
  DELAC/ELAC Agenda 5/14/12
  ELAC Survey (English)
  ELAC Survey (Spanish)


   New law for 7 through 12 grade students requires Pertussis Shot
   Plan for Educating Expelled Students
  Foster Youth Services
  June 2010 Alt Ed Graduation
  Physical Education for Body Mind and Spirit now has it's own web site!
  Breathing Martial Arts into the Curriculum 2007 feature article on the Physical Education Body, Mind and Spirit program
  Character Based Literacy Course
  Teachers - Standards Guide for K-12 now available.
  California Exit Exam Test Preparation Center (Requires the administrator to create a student account first.)
  Career Locker

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Santa Cruz County Office of Education  |  400 Encinal Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060  |  831.466.5600  |  Fax: 831.466.5607
The Santa Cruz County Office of Education provides quality educational programs and services to a diverse community.