Help me out of my housing and schooling nightmare
August 11, 2007 11:11 AM   Subscribe

How can I enroll my children in a school in LA without having a house?

I'm moving to LA for schooling at UCLA (currently live in Maryland). I have 2 children, 7 and 4. Late last month, my wife and I and our kids flew out and picked out a place to live in the Pacific Palisades, right by the public charter elementary school there. We applied, were approved. Got the lease.

I had a question about one of the terms (Said we were responsible for all repairs under $150, even if we weren't responsible for it, that seemed odd to me).

The owner never replied to my question (which I send via email), so finally I decided who cares I needed a place to live so we signed the lease, sent the certified deposit check, and I emailed her to let her know we did so. She said that was great, she thought we were going to back out about the $150.

Things seemed settled. Then after the lease was in the mail, she emailed me to say that she decided she didn't want to rent me the place because I had questioned the lease. She said that she would return the check if I had already sent it. She hasn't responded to my emails or calls since.

We're flying out on the 29th, the kids school starts in early September, and now we face the very real prospect of living in a hotel while we find something else. (And if you have any good leads, that's a bonus help, we are already checking craigslist and – if we're missing anything, let me know!)

I'm not really looking for help with the Palisades home, the owner seems a little illogical to me and maybe it's good that we don't live there with her as a landlord. But it has certainly left us hanging.

My question: How in the world do we enroll our kids in school when we don't yet have a home? Is it possible? We want them in a good school, so we're targeting Santa Monica / Westwood / etc. But I doubt any of those schools will let us in until we have a signed lease, right? What should we do until we find a place?
posted by visual mechanic to Education (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you know anyone in the area who would be willing to temporarily add your name to their electric or phone bill? The proof of residence requirement for California public schools can usually be satisfied with a current utility bill. For more desirable public schools, the district may do a site visit to check that the child is actually residing at the claimed address, but it usually takes them several weeks (or months) to actually follow through, if they do it at all.
posted by jamaro at 12:00 PM on August 11, 2007

Oops, strike "phone" from above. SSMSD doesn't accept phone bills as proof (my district up north does and amusingly, also accepts cable tv bills as proof) but does accept power or water.
posted by jamaro at 12:06 PM on August 11, 2007

Technically, it seems you will be homeless. Various laws and policies protect the educational rights of homeless children. Here in Chicago, schools must allow homeless children to enroll.

I would suggest you call the district and explain your situation.
posted by mai at 1:23 PM on August 11, 2007

Seconding mai. Schools are very used to students who live in temporary (or even non-existent) housing. I would make some effort to find a temporary situation in the district you will end up in, to minimize disruption to the kids, but I would be surprised if school districts in the area do not have procedures for situations just like yours.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:48 PM on August 11, 2007

Here's a poster that states that you do not need to provide proof of residence if you are living in a hotel.

My junior year prom date lived in a hotel for a year while his dad was doing construction, so it is not at all uncommon. (Hopefully your situation will be resolved loooong before then.)
posted by saffry at 1:52 PM on August 11, 2007

Best answer: Decide what school you want to be in. Study the school zoning maps and rent an efficiency or hotel in this zone until you find a place in the same school zone or other desirable zone.

I wonder if you have a copy of the fallen out lease agreement or any paperwork from this attempted lease. To be on the very safe side I would have an address in mind to tell the school that you will be moving to (in the desired zone, of course).

If you're going on the 29th I would visit the charter elementary school in-person to enroll the kids and explain your situation. If possible, bring along any kind of paperwork that a lease agreement was in process.
posted by LoriFLA at 1:56 PM on August 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

I can't help with the school issue. However, my wife and I live in UCLA graduate housing . UCLA owns several apartment complexes and two large "villages" that are for graduate students and students for family. Thie villages incude a swimming pool, basketball court, computer lab, daycare, and a meeting hall. They are in the Palms/Venice area 10 minutes away from UCLA and they are rented out for substantially cheaper than places in the area. I would highly recommend it to any UCLA grad or married students.
posted by anansi at 2:20 PM on August 11, 2007

Best answer: As far as hotels, if you end up needing to go that route I strongly recommend the UCLA Guest House. I stayed there while doing my own housing search, and found it very comfortable. Rates are very reasonable in comparison with hotels of similar quality and location.
posted by splendid animal at 3:18 PM on August 11, 2007

Response by poster: anansi, i applied for those today, but was told there is a 6 month waiting list. so cross your fingers for me.
posted by visual mechanic at 7:02 PM on August 11, 2007

Response by poster: oh wow, that guest house sounds perfect. But there are 4 of us... and the website says 3 people maximum.

I've left a message asking for an exception.
posted by visual mechanic at 7:12 PM on August 11, 2007

About the Guest House... Unfortunately it's very likely to be booked for many of the days between now and October. You can call and ask but I wouldn't get my hopes up. If they can't find room for you, they'll put you in contact with the Tiverton House, which is also run by UCLA. The three person maximum is for rooms with queen sized beds. For rooms with a queen and a twin the maximum is four people but there are fewer queen/twin rooms so it's harder to book them. If you can't find room at the Guest House or the Tiverton and you want something near the campus for a few days you might want to try the Hilgard House.
posted by rdr at 8:25 PM on August 11, 2007

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