A sunset behind Duval County PublicSchools administration buildingA sunset behind Duval County PublicSchools administration building

Enrolling your child in Duval County Public Schools | JAX TODAY GUIDE

Published on January 19, 2023 at 5:20 pm

If you’re looking to enroll a first-time student in Duval Schools for this coming fall, here’s what you need to know, with important deadlines quickly approaching for many parents. 

First things first

Whether you’re enrolling in your neighborhood school or you want to take advantage of Florida’s expansive school choice options, the district asks that you apply online by creating a student account that will ultimately assign your child a unique student ID number. Before beginning, you’ll need to assemble some paperwork to upload with the application, like a certification of immunization from your pediatrician and proof of residence, like a JEA bill. (These can be photos or digital versions of the documents, so don’t worry if you don’t have a scanner handy.) 

Second, you’ll need to create your own parent/guardian Focus account, which will be linked to the student’s account. (This is where you’ll receive updates about your child’s academic progress eventually.)   

For more on linking parent and student accounts, check out the district’s instructions for new students, defined as students who’ve never been enrolled in a DCPS school before, including all children entering kindergarten.  



Enrolling in your neighborhood school? 

If you’re planning to send your child to the school for which your home is zoned, and it’s not a magnet school, you can rest easy: Application packets will be available at the school itself around early May. Check your school zone here and check the academic ratings of your assigned school here

Though physical documents can be uploaded online, parents/guardians must go to their child’s school to verify the information that was uploaded. The enrollment process is not complete until a parent/guardian has finished the process on campus.

Want further options? 

Check out the district’s school choice catalog for all offerings and how to choose a school. 

The standard-application-window deadline for students enrolling in other schools, including lottery-based magnet programs, is Tuesday, Feb. 28. In their Focus account, parents can apply for up to two magnet schools/programs and a special transfer option. Don’t wait until the last minute — excluding optional school site visits (more on that later), the school choice application process typically takes as long as three academic days to complete.

On Thursday, Jan. 19, at 6 p.m., the district will hold the first of four virtual sessions about the school-choice enrollment and lottery process.

Three other sessions will be offered before the Feb. 28 deadline. All of them begin at 6 p.m.: 

Can’t attend a virtual session but still have questions about the process? You can make an appointment for an in-person meeting at the district’s School Choice Office, at 4037 Boulevard Center Drive, First Floor, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays.

Or call the district’s school choice hotline at (904) 348-7777 (But heads up: The wait time can be quite long at this time of year.) 

What’s available 

Outside your school zone, you can apply for a charter (a public school that’s privately operated and free from certain regulations but still accountable for kids’ academic progress) by contacting the individual school you like, or apply for a different traditional public school (what the district refers to as a “special-option transfer” school). These can be magnet schools or simply “choice schools,” meaning they are outside the attendee’s home zone. Here are some definitions of all the options

Magnet schools

Magnets can provide curricula and special programming that allow students to pursue a variety of interests, like the arts or science, or specialize in skills like college prep or leadership. 

Magnets schools — like R.L. Brown Elementary, Landon Middle and Stanton College Prep — generally do not have a specific zoned attendance area, though some neighborhood schools are also “whole school magnets,” such as Mayport Middle and Ed White High, which serve both neighborhood and transfer students. Riverside High School’s Engineering Academy and the Highlands Middle School Leadership and Finance Academy are examples of school-within-a-school magnet programs that require special applications. 

If the number of students who apply for a school/program exceeds the number of spots available, admission will be done by lottery. 

For magnet schools, several “priority” factors can weight a student’s chances in the lottery: they live near the magnet school; they are the children of active-duty military parents; their sibling attends the school already; their parents get a principal’s signature for attending an open house; or they live in a low-income neighborhood that qualifies them for a Title I magnet school. Program continuity is also taken into account for students applying for middle and high school choice programs.

Some magnet programs, like accelerated academics and arts programs, require minimum academic achievements or auditions to be accepted.  

Again, parents can apply for up to two magnet schools/programs and a special transfer option in their Focus account. Parents will be emailed in April with where their student was accepted. Students placed with their second-choice magnet school will not be added to the waitlist for their first-choice school. School assignments will be finalized over the summer as families make their choices and spots open on waitlists. 

High school acceleration programs

Nine DCPS high schools provide accelerated programs including Advanced International Certification of Education (AICE), Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs.

The deadline for applying for those programs was Jan. 19, 2023, for the upcoming school year. 

AICE: Fletcher, Mandarin, and Raines

AP: Atlantic Coast and Baldwin  

IB: Terry Parker, Paxon, Stanton, and Wolfson

Baldwin, Ed White, First Coast, Ribault, Riverside, Sandalwood, Terry Parker, Westside and Raines all provide an option to complete an A.A. college degree as part of the district’s dual enrollment program. And Andrew Jackson and Englewood provide an option to earn an associate of science degree.

Who should apply?

You need to apply for a magnet school or special option transfer school by the Feb. 28 deadline if:

  • Your child is entering the school for the first time;
  • Your child seeks to remain in a similar magnet program as they enter middle school (6th grade) or high school (9th grade);
  • Your child is in their last year of elementary school (5th grade) or middle school (8th grade) and is looking to make a magnet or special option transfer choice 

author image Reporter, Jacksonville Today Will Brown is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. He previously reported for the Jacksonville Business Journal. And before that, he spent more than a decade as a sports reporter at The St. Augustine Record, Victoria (Texas) Advocate and the Tallahassee Democrat. Reach him at will@jaxtoday.org.
author image Reporter, Jacksonville Today Will Brown is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. He previously reported for the Jacksonville Business Journal. And before that, he spent more than a decade as a sports reporter at The St. Augustine Record, Victoria (Texas) Advocate and the Tallahassee Democrat. Reach him at will@jaxtoday.org.