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2020 - 2021

3/31/2021 Charter University Prep celebrates 20 years of stellar education offering

What began 20 years ago as a small group of educators recognizing a need for a pathway for university-bound students within the home-school community has grown to one of the largest high school charter schools in El Dorado County.

Charter University Prep began as Placerville Academic School in 1999, offering 16 college-prep classes to high school students and expanded to offer classes to junior high school students the following year. In 2003 Placerville Academic School joined the El Dorado County Office of Education, moved into a new campus and became known as Charter Smith Flat. In 2010 Michael Harris, who has been principal since the school’s formation, moved the school to the Charles Brown campus and the program has been known as CUP since.

At the Charles Brown campus a second high school program, Charter Connections Academy, was added. Together, the schools offer more than 100 courses to 300-plus students in a two-class-a-week college model. CUP caters to students interested in pursuing a four-year college degree after high school, while CCA caters to students interested in post-high school career technical training to lead to a career. Both programs are tailored to individual students, versus a one-size-fits-all model.

“Our goal has always been to prepare each student for the next step in life, not just a diploma,” Harris said. “CUP achieves that for more academically inclined students. Our students have attended some of the top universities in the world.”

When a visitor enters the office they see college banners from myriad of schools that represent a small portion of those attended.

“Every student has a different path and we help them find the right path for who they want to be,” said Harris. “At CCA students receive hands-on experience participating in career exploration classes, ROP and Folsom Lake College Career Technical Classes so that when they graduate they have a much more adult understanding and preparation for their next step in life.”

CCA and CUP emphasize what is referred to by the staff as “Adulting 101” classes. Students take courses that focus on financial planning and what is involved when living outside the parent’s home. Students learn the concepts of social-emotional learning and what “growing up” entails. Even students taking calculus find the personal finance class one of the most worthwhile courses in their schedule.

CUP students can also follow a multicultural education track. In 2015 the high schools began offering classes focused in Japanese studies, including courses in language, art history and Japanese Taiko drumming – which fulfills fine art requirements. CUP is one of the only high schools on the West Coast to offer this course as an elective. Every other year juniors and seniors have the opportunity to visit Japan and interact with Ueda Nishi, the school’s sister school in Nagano.

After decades of dedicated service, Harris will retire at the end of this school year.

“The rewarding part of this job has been to see the growth in our students, to be able to provide a place where students want to come to school and parents trust us to be partners with them,” Harris said.

“It has been awesome to work alongside some of the best educators who truly care about their students and who know what they are doing,” he continued. “Teaching in this program requires the teacher to not only know their material backward and forward but to connect and care about their students. In the 20 years, we have existed, we have never advertised. We operate solely on word-of-mouth and always fill up because the students want to be here. I cannot be more proud of the incredible students and staff I have worked with.”

For additional information about CUP, which is currently enrolling seventh-grade students, visit or call (530) 622-8594.

2020-21 Charter Student Calendar

Charter Alternative Programs has released its student calendar for the 2020-21 school year. Click here to preview.

Charter Home Study Academy Is Now Enrolling Students for the 2020-21 School Year

Charter Home Study Academy (CHSA) is uniquely designed to serve families in a hybrid and distance learning environment. Education is all around us and is not limited to one location or time frame. This is one component of homeschooling and is a driving force in how we incorporate all modes of learning, including distance learning. Our teachers engage with students and families using a variety of tools and methods. CHSA teachers are skilled in quickly adapting instruction and curriculum to the ever-changing environment in education.

For more information about our program, please read through the Frequently Asked Questions. If you are ready to enroll or would like to hear more about our program, please fill out the request form or call 530-622-6984 to schedule an appointment. At this time, informational appointments are held through phone and zoom appointments.

Informational Enrollment Request Form

Students Earn College Credit at EDCOE Charter Alternative Programs

Charter Alternative Programs provides a college and career readiness program that helps guide students toward a successful transition into higher education and/or the workforce. Offered in partnership with the Folsom Lake College, the Advanced Education Program allows Charter students to enroll in community college courses concurrently during high school while earning both college and high school credits. FLC and Charter staff meet with students on a monthly basis as a support system to help them map their plan for higher education.

The Advanced Education program is one of the many ways Charter Alternative Programs provides a variety of high quality, innovative programs that emphasize the development of the whole individual in safe and supportive learning environments.

Additional information about Charter Alternative Programs may be found at or by calling (530) 295-2259.

School Facilities Closure Extended

Dear Charter Program Families,

Please see the following press release that was sent out to our community last night from Dr. Manansala, our County Superintendent of Schools, and our School District Superintendents, detailing the extension of school facilities closures in El Dorado County for the remainder of the school year. This follows guidance earlier from Governor Newsom and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.

Though we were all hoping this would not happen, we fully acknowledge the seriousness of the emergency and the necessity of following public health guidelines to ensure the safety of students, families, and staff. Charter Principals will be following up with our families at each school and program with regard to our plans to keep improving our distance learning services for our students and families, which are continuing.

The full closure extension order press release can be read on the El Dorado Office of Education website: