The Highland Academy Difference

At Highland Academy Charter School we know that your child’s education goes far beyond simple textbooks and standardized testing criteria. A well-rounded education must have a foundation in traditional educational practice but it also has to teach students how to reason beyond the questions posed in the classroom. Throughout a student’s life they are told what the correct answer is and how to arrive at that answer; what makes Highland Academy Charter School different is that we teach our students the power of cognitive reasoning so they can find answers to questions that won’t be posed until much later in life. This type of education helps young students grown into confident leaders because the power and ability to reason will always be a necessary skill throughout every stage of life. Come visit one of our classrooms and you will see what makes our approach so well-rounded, unique, and successful.

Important School Information

Highland Academy exists to build strong character, foster self-motivation, and help all our students to Find Their Genius.  Students will be expected to strive for academic success with hard work, personal excellence through self-discipline, and develop strong character through honesty, integrity, and service.
Grade 6:  All Supports in Place

  • AIP mandatory for all F’s. Teachers provide assignments
  • Late Work/Re-take Tests later than ​4 weeks​ not accepted.
  • Tutoring mandatory for chronic failing grades
  • Travel Cards mandatory per PTC requirement

Grade 7:  Moderate Supports 

  • AIP mandatory/voluntary for all F’s. Teachers provide assignment
  • Late Work/Re-take Tests later than ​2 weeks​ not accepted
  • Tutoring voluntary unless PTC stipulates otherwise
  • Travel Cards mandatory per PTC requirement

Grade 8:  Minimal Supports 

  • AIP Voluntary unless PTC stipulates. Student brings own assignments
  • Late Work/Re-take Tests later than ​1 week​ not accepted
  • Tutoring available with individual arrangement with teacher
  • Travel Cards available upon student request. Daily Checks initiated by student

General Guidelines:

  1. Teachers have discretion to adjust these policies. ​For example, if a student gets into the  habit of turning assignments in ​late​, teachers have the flexibility to start not accepting any  work turned in past the original due date​. These policies are intended to support, not  hinder, student progress and responsibility. Students will be notified by their teacher if  changes are made.
  2. Travel Cards are often given to students who are struggling. Students will be required to  have the teacher sign their travel card at the conclusion of each class period. After class,  students are also required to check-in with a member of the school administrative team.
  3. AIP stands for “Academic Improvement Program”. It is offered on Fridays for struggling  students instead of extra curricular activities.
Short Term Independent Study may be an option for students who have unavoidable absences and  will be absent for three (3) to twenty (20) consecutive days. If the student will be gone for more than 20 days, they must be withdrawn from Highland Academy.   Short-term independent study contracts will not be issued during State testing in April/May. ​

The  school must receive 5 working days notice to prepare work for the student​. As a general rule,  there will be no more than two (2) short-term independent student contracts granted per student per school year. Parents are requested to contact the office to request an Independent Study Contract, which will then be approved or denied by school administration. All student work must be submitted to the front office on the contracted day of return. If all work is returned with satisfactory progress, the student will maintain a clear attendance record.

  1. Be responsible for your own success
  2. Be courageous and try difficult things
  3. Show respect for yourself, others, and your environment
  4. Show integrity even when no one is watching
  5. Value individuality- there is genius in everyone

                   You can’t spell HUSKY without US!

We recognize that cell phones present a convenient way to stay in communication with your child.  However, cell phones can be a disruption to the teaching and learning process; therefore, if you  allow your child to carry a cell phone it must remain ​off and out-of sight​ during all classroom time.  If a student uses a cell phone during class time, it may be confiscated and a parent may need to  pick it up from administration.

Parents: Please do not call or text your student during class time. If you need to reach your student, please wait until break, lunch, or after school. If it is an urgent matter, please call the  main office at 951-266-0220.

Students are responsible for the content of their cell phone; students should not let other students use their cell phone​. ​As with other electronic devices, damaged, lost, or stolen cell phones are not the responsibility of the school.  In the event that school administration receives reports of cyber bullying or inappropriate content  (photos, posts, text messages, videos, etc.) on a student’s phone, we reserve the right to question the student and search his or her phone to substantiate or negate the report. In the event that evidence is found to substantiate the report of inappropriate use of a cell phone, the school reserves the right to administer discipline and/or contact law enforcement as necessary.

During school hours, students should not participate in the following activities on their phones:

  • Watching videos on or similar sites
  • Playing Video Games
  • Taking photos and/or videos of other students without their permission
  • Posting photos and/or videos of other students to social media sites without their permission

  • 4 – Exceeds Standard
  • 3 – Meets Standard
  • 2 – Approaching Standard
  • 1 – Below Standard

Middle School

  • A – 100% – 90%
  • B – 89% – 80%
  • C – 79% – 70%
  • F – 69% – 0%
The goal of Highland Academy is that every student is in class every day on time.  Consistent school attendance is critical to school success. Please make sure your students are in school every day and that they are on time. School begins at 8:00 am. Please make sure your student is on campus by 7:55 am so as to be in class on time. 


Tardy: Arriving in class after 8:00 am

Unexcused Absence: Absent without valid excuse or tardy more than 30 minutes 

Truant: 4 unexcused absences equal 1 truancy. 

Habitual Truant: Three or more truancies

Chronic Truant: Absent without valid excuse for more than 10% of the school year. 

School Attendance Review Team (“SART”):  School Administrative Panel that reviews attendance issues.

Excused Absences for Classroom Based Attendance

A student’s absence shall be excused for the following reasons:

  1. Personal illness.
  2. Quarantine under the direction of a county or city health officer.
  3. Medical, dental, optometric, or chiropractic appointments
  4. Attendance at funeral services for a member of the immediate family (parent/guardian, grandparent, siblings, in-laws, or other member of household; limit 1 day.
  5. Participation in religious instruction or exercises
  6. To permit the student to spend time with an immediate family member who is an active duty member of the uniformed services.
  7. Attendance at the student’s naturalization ceremony to become a United States citizen.
  8. Authorized at the discretion of a school administrator, based on the facts of the student’s circumstances, are deemed to constitute a valid excuse. 
  9. A student who holds a work permit to work for a period of not more than five (5) consecutive days in the entertainment or allied industries.
  10. In order to participate with a not-for-profit performing arts organization in a performance for a public-school student audience for a maximum of up to five (5) days per school year.

In addition, a student’s absence shall be excused for justifiable personal reasons such as: 

  1. Appearance in court.
  2. Attendance at a funeral.
  3. Observation of a holiday or ceremony of his/her religion.
  4. Attendance at religious retreats for no more than four (4) hours during a semester.

Method of Verification

  1. Signed, written note from parent/guardian, parent representative.
  2. Conversation, in person or by telephone
  3. Visit to the student’s home by HACS Administration
  4. Note from Medical Professional

Insofar as class participation is an integral part of students’ learning experiences, parents/guardians and students shall be encouraged to schedule medical appointments during non-school hours. 

Process for Addressing Truancy

    1. Each of the first 3 unexcused absences or tardies may activate a call or email home 
    2. The 4th unexcused absence or tardy will result in “Truancy Letter #1 – Truancy Classification Notice“ 
    3. The 6th unexcused absence or tardy will result in “Truancy Letter #2 – Habitual Truant Classification Notice and Conference Request,”
    4. The 7th unexcused absence or tardy will result in “Truancy Letter #3 – Referral to SART Meeting”  
  • If the conditions of the SART contract are not met, the student may incur additional administrative action up to and including disenrollment from the Charter School.
  1. The 10th unexcused absence or tardy will result in the students being removed from HACS.

Process for Students Who Are Not in Attendance During First 5 Days of the School Year

  1. Students who are absent on the first day of the school year will be contacted by phone.
  2. Students not in attendance by the 3rd day of school will receive a letter indicating the student’s risk of disenrollment.
  3. Students not in attendance by the 5th day of school will receive a phone call reiterating the content of the letter.
  4. Students not in attendance by the 6th day of school will initiate the Involuntary Removal process.
  • Shoes will be worn at all times. Sandals or flip-flops may be worn during warm months. Tennis shoes ​must​ be worn for PE.
  • In general clothing must be modest and not be a distraction to the educational environment.  Shirts worn by both girls and boys must cover the midriff and have sleeves – shoulders must be covered. Strapless tops, tank tops, spaghetti straps, and halter-tops may not be worn. Clothing must conceal undergarments at all times. Oversized apparel, including baggy pants worn low on the waist (known as sagging) may not be worn at school. Skirts, shorts, or dresses cannot be shorter than the tip of the student’s fingers with arms extended down at their sides. Excessively large/long shirts or overalls with unfastened straps are not allowed. Clothing that is ripped, torn, or has holes  exposing parts of the body that should be covered (i.e. shoulders, thighs, etc.) cannot be worn.
  • Clothing or accessories shall be free of writing, pictures, or any other insignia, which are crude, violent, obscene or sexually suggestive, which advocate racial, ethnic, religious, or other prejudice or the use of tobacco, drugs or alcohol, or are otherwise considered inappropriate.
  • Earrings, jewelry, or accessories, which present a safety hazard to the wearer or others, are not suitable for school.
  • Identified gang attire such as bandannas, haircuts or hair rollers, baggy shorts with long white  socks, “do rags,” or any gang-related/gang-type paraphernalia are prohibited.
Elementary TK-5

  • 4 – Exceeds Standards
  • 3 – Meets Standards
  • 2 – Approaching Standards
  • 1 – Below Standards

Middle School 6 – 8

  • A – 90 to 100%
  • B – 80 to 89%
  • C – 70 to 79%
  • F – 0 to 69%
Any student outside of class during class time must have a note or hall pas.  Students who do not may be considered tardy or truant.
Highland Academy strives to maintain a clean campus daily by students and staff.  Students must clean around their eating location after every meal.  Students must clean around their work station in each class prior to dismissal every period of the day.  Please place all refuse in the proper receptacles.  This is your school.  We depend upon student to express pride in Highland Academy by using self-discipline and by being responsible members of the school community.  Students are expected to take proper care and to participate in maintaining a clean (litter free) and attractive campus.
Students will have access to Chromebooks in their classes.  Chromebooks are only to be used under the supervision of an adult for academic purposes.  Social media, games, or other leisurely activities are not allowed at anytime (this includes during break or lunch).

Students are expected to treat Chromebooks carefully and responsibly.  Access to technology is a privilege and not a right.  Students who misuse Chromebooks may have their computer privileges revokes.  Students will be responsible for the costs of any damages caused through negligence or vandalism.

Students will be held to the highest standards of academic integrity.  Any detected instances of cheating (i.e. homework, reports, tests, online learning, etc.) will be penalized at the discretion of the teacher.  Additionally, the incident may adversely affect the student’s opportunity or potential to receive academic rewards or recognition, including promotion.  Violations may result in discipline measures and possible removal from Highland Academy.

Project-Based Learning

A main focus of Highland Academy is Project Based Learning.  PBL is a method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge.  PBL elements include:

  • Key Knowledge, Understanding, and Success Skills – The project is focused on student learning goals, including standards-based content and skills such as critical thinking/problem solving, collaboration, and self-management.
  • Challenging Problem or Question – The project is framed by a meaningful problem to solve or a question to answer, at the appropriate level of challenge.
  • Sustained Inquiry – Students engage in a rigorous, extended process of asking questions, finding resources, and applying information.
  • Authenticity – The project features real-world context, tasks and tools, quality standards, or impact – or speaks to students’ personal concerns, interests, and issues in their lives.
  • Reflection – Students and teachers reflect on learning, the effectiveness of their inquiry and project activities, the quality of student work, obstacles and how to overcome them.
  • Critique & Revision – Students give, receive, and use feedback to improve their process and products.
  • Public Product – Students make their project work public by explaining, displaying and/or presenting it to people beyond the classroom.
*Adapted from the Buck Institute for Education

Growth Mindset

The ability to persist in the face of challenge is an essential factor in student academic and life performance. However, teaching “gritty” behaviors may not be successful if students don’t have the mindset, strategies, and supports they need to motivate and sustain their growth.  Core beliefs, content-specific skills, and classroom culture are also essential to success.

At Highland Academy, we believe that teaching a growth mindset, using appropriate praise, providing examples of how genius is the result of hard work, having students write about how their learning connects to their lives, and other techniques have all shown promise in getting students to believe that they can succeed.