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Special Education, IEP, 504 Plan at Berkeley High
We are looking at transferring our daughter from St. Mary's High to BHS for Fall 2012 entering 10th grade and are wondering what kind of experiences people have had at BHS with the school providing accommodations for kids with special needs. Our daughter was diagnosed with ADD and has some other learning issues, and St. Mary's has been great about providing her with accommodations, extended time on tests, a quiet room to take tests in etc. I have heard that at BHS these kind of accommodations are not offered and would love to hear from parents who have had positive or negative experiences in relation to this issue. Thanks
My son is in 8th grade, and has been educated solely through private schools thus far. While I do not believe he is a good candidate for BHS because of his learning profile, I want to at least do my due dilegence and explore BHS opportunities. We had him assessed for an IEP through BUSD at the end of 6th grade, and he did not qualify. I would like to see if we could get him a 504 Plan to facilitate his potential education at BHS. Who do I contact at BUSD to set this in motion? I was given a name by the people who conducted our IEP but when I called that person last year I got nowhere. It is now time to get really serious about this, so if anyone can please steer me in the right direction I would appreciate it. Also, if you've read this far, if you happen to have insights into which small school at BUSD works best for kids with learning disabilities (slow processing, working memory, long-term memory recall, and executive function deficits) I would appreciate your thoughts. To succeed academically my son needs his teachers to know him and care about him. Is this possible at BHS? Thanks. Anon
I would like to hear from parents of kids with LDs who have IEPs about their experience at Berkeley High. I have a 7th grader in a very small private school (Raskob) and am wondering about the reality of Berkeley High. anon
First every child is different, so what works for mine, might not work for yours. All LD's are not created equal. My son repeated Algebra, and only took 3 academic courses this year. He keeps his grades up but has tutors for each subject who essentially help him do his homework. He has an IEP and so far the school district via Diane Colburn (BHS special ed manager) has been pretty cooperative with providing good teachers and understanding his needs are not the typical profile of the kids they have in CLC (the special ed study hall so to speak).
Being different or known as someone who uses special ed resources is a huge source of conflict for my son. He's OK with the tutors but not any obvious aid sitting in class with him or working with him in public places.
He has lots of regular ed friends who are great and the sports outlet certainly helps to motivate him and keep him on task (to the best of his ability). It is not easy for us or for him, but in general he seems to enjoy his classes. Some of his teachers are great, some engaging which save the day, and some horribly in his face (which is a complete turnoff) although they care greatly about his success. So that all being said, we are taking it day by day. Sometimes I freak out about sophomore year where he will be doubling his academic workload and then there is the question of a language. His therapist/mentor tells us not to future trip. Each year gets a little better, so we try to chill, but as a parent it is difficult.
So our experience so far is that BHS is doable with a lot of help. There aren't too many good choices out there. All I can recommend is that knowing your child, you get what you need to make it work for him or her. BHS is a BIG school with lots of kids in a class. It's great if your kid can navigate it. Terri
Would like to hear from other families who have experience with BUSD in supporting their teen at Bay Hill HS. Would like to hear from parents that were both successful and those that were not. welcome advice asap!
Re: Student with mild aspergers looking for high school
As an MD and parent of two teens, one with mild LD, one without; one currently in BHS, one who went to a competitive private high school and is now a junior at an Ivy League college, I wanted to respond both to the HS for ''mild AS'' question and the private vs public HS, because I think there are some key principles here:
1) knowing your child and what they need for both support and appropriate challenges (and helping them recognize and advocate what they need for themselves)
2) recognizing that our understanding of LD/ADHD/AS/ASD is primitive; that diagnostic labels are imprecise shorthands for complex individuals who have a wide spectrum of specific difficulties and strengths, which also vary from quite mild (and occasionally overdiagnosed) to profoundly challenging.
So our child with LD/AS feels great about doing well academically at BHS. He has done well in part because of the study skills and routines he learned at his private elementary and middle school; in part, he has been in one of the small school programs and has had excellent responsive teachers--as good as most of those we have had in private schools. BHS has been accepting and even welcoming of his social eccentricities.
We expect we will be utilizing tutoring help in the future, and he has done pragmatic speech groups for social skills work. We looked at Orinda Academy, which I think would have been excellent for him, but he felt he did not need that level of structure--so far, he seems to be correct. But for other teens, Bayhill or Orion may be the environment in which they can thrive and learn.
Our experience of private schools has been positive--but far from ''real world''--of course there are great kids, families, opportunities--but the one overwhelming impression that sticks with me is--too much money and consumerism. Our older son felt underprivileged (FAR from true) when he wasn't spending spring break in Barbados. Of course your family is the primary determinant of culture--but I was troubled by the peer messages... even more true in private colleges--the amount of spending money many kids have is striking. And in retrospect, I'm sure our older son would have done just fine in public high school with good AP classes. learning as we go....
Hello, Berkeley Parents of Teens -- I'm a brand-new parent of a teenager, as I've just been named the guardian of my godson. He'd been attending high school in Contra Costa County, but to my great joy, I managed to enroll him in the 11th grade at Bayhill High School, and he began classes last week.
As some of you may know, Bayhill (www.bayhillhs.org) is a private high school on Lake Merritt dedicated to students with diagnosed problems in reading (dyslexia), auditory processing, etc. As such, my husband and I would like for the Berkeley Unified School District to pay his tuition.
Has any of you succeeded in getting the BUSD (or OUSD) to pay for your child to receive receive the kind of skilled teaching and attention not available in the public school system?
If so, I'd greatly appreciate hearing from you. Thanks in advance. LM
First off, does your student even have an IEP? If not, that's the place to start. BUSD will have their own people evaluate him; you can also hire private professionals to do the same, and those evals may or may not be ''accepted'' or used by BUSD. BUSD will try very hard to have your student stay within BUSD, by providing whatever ''special'' or other educational components he needs, before paying to have him go outside of the district (particularly if its to a private school, rather than another district's public school; not sure which yours is that you mentioned?) You may end up in a legal battle over the whole thing; you'll likely need ''advocates'' on your side (and there are people who do this kind of work, but for a fee of course) - psychologists, educational specialists, an attorney, etc. etc.
I'm sure there are resources on the web to learn more about some of this; wish you the best of luck and your son a successful schooling! Know only 2nd hand
My son, who has attended private schools since kindergarten,
has dysgraphia and a social skills deficit similar to NLD. He
is now in 8th grade at a very small school. He is a highly-
motivated person who does well in school with accommodations
and forms close bonds with his teachers. He is just this year
starting to learn about advocating for himself. My question is
whether anyone has a child with similar characteristics who
went through Berkeley High. He would need to use a computer in
all his classes for note-taking, assignments, and tests. I'm
concerned about getting his accommodations and also about
whether a kid who cannot read social cues would be safe there
My son, currently in 8th grade at a small independent school, really
wants to go to
Berkeley High next year. I would like to support this, but I am
worried about how he
would handle it. He was diagnosed a few years ago with Non-Verbal
Disorder, which means that he has a great deal of difficulty
complex situations or directions, and is not highly attuned to social
cues. He often
forgets to write down assignments and isn't good about seeking help --
cruise under the radar and hope that everything will turn out okay. On
side, he's a very positive kid, works hard and wants to do well. He's
reader who delves deeply into politics, history and geography in his
Since we are at a small school now, we can work with teachers to make
they understand his limitations and can bring out the best of his
concern about Berkeley High is that he would get lost. What kind of
the school offer to ensure that this doesn't happen?
8th grade mom
I would like to start a dialogue here about the experience of BHS parents with the special ed program. What's good, what's not, what could be improved and how?
Some background: I am the parent of a BHS freshman special ed student -- a bright essentially mainstream student who suffers from some specific learning disabilities, neurological and emotional issues that resulted in special ed placement (regular classes, with accomodations). My child went to King Middle School and the special ed folks there were great, especially Elaine Eger (who wears at least a couple of hats in BUSD -- resource teacher at King and head of the District assessment team) and Bill Liebman (King school psychologist). Looking forward to the demands of high school, and having been through a rocky 8th grade year, we established an IEP (individualized education plan) specifically aimed at getting our child off to a good start at BHS. A primary part of the plan was that there would be a meeting or meetings between BHS special ed, our child's teachers and us within two weeks of the beginning of the school year in order to educate the teaching staff about the situation (our child's problems are not self-evident) and to establish a clear understanding about accomodations and lines of communication between teachers and parents.
Needless to say, since I'm writing this, none of this happened. It is now after Thanksgiving and we are still trying to set up the "initial meeting." Meanwhile our child is in the midst of a spectacular flameout. On an ironic note, I heard Principal Saunders tell a group of parents (I think at the last PTSA meeting in the Spring, but maybe at frosh orientation) that teachers would be proactively calling any parent whose child was having problems in class. So far no teacher has contacted us even though half our kid's mid-term grades were D/F -- the rest were A/B.
My impressions of the BHS special ed department so far are ones of overburderned (27 kids per resource teacher) well-meaning resourse specialists in the midst of complete administrative breakdown and chaos. All freshman special ed students were assigned to a "long term substitute" with NO special ed background (he's a math teacher) and no particular personal qualities to recommend hiim for the job (no offense, a nice guy but not a hire anyone but a bureaucrat filling a slot would try to justify -- round peg in a square hole). Then the administration forgot to tell him this was a long term position so he made other plans and left after a month. Apparently the department has been interviewing to fill the position permanently since the summer (the inside word is they're dragging candidates in off the street, more or less).
So, what gives? Parents, what has your experience with BHS (or BUSD) special ed been? Is this year unusually fouled up? If so, why? Principal Saunders, what gives?
Let me say in conclusion that it is not my nature to rouse rabble or throw bombs, so to speak. I am prepared to tolerate quite a lot and to work within practical limits. At the moment, however, I wonder whether BHS and BUSD are prepared to make any real effort.
I would suggest writing a letter to BUSD Head of Special Ed, Joan Biondi, Program Supervisor for Secondary, Sharon Pincus, & BHS Special Ed folks expressing your concern about lack of adherence to your child's IEP. You can also call for a new IEP to address these issues.
There is a legal advocacy group in SF that helps families with special ed kids. I highly recommend CASE (Community Alliance for Special Education) in San Francisco at (415) 928-2273 as an advocacy group and legal resource for families with children in special ed. The attorneys and paralegals are very helpful.
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