Special Education in the OUSD
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OUSD is currently offering to place our child into the Reading Clinic currently held
at Maxwell Park but destined to be at Redwood Heights next year. They are offerring
to place him in an 'intensive' special day classroom that addresses learning
deficits that effect reading/math. The idea is that he would be in this classroom
for academics - but then in the standard learning environment of Redwood Heights for
non academics like recess, pe, art etc.
I am wondering if anyone can comment on their experience with the OUSD Reading
Clinic or this kind of special day class? We are concerned about the quality and
implementaion of the program. Would be interested in hearing any feedback that
might help give us a full picture of what we might be getting into.
My son attended the reading clinic 3 years ago as a third grader. It was a great
experience for him. It really turned his reading around! The teachers and director
there are great.
The only iffy part of the experience was the schoolbus (the school district provided
transportation to and from the reading clinic). My son had one excellent driver and one
very unfriendly driver who couldn't manage the kids' behavior and really seemed not to
speak English. That required a lot of intervention on my part, and involvement with the
bus company and the special ed. dept.
Feel free to contact me for more info. kc
Does anyone have experience with Oakland's special education reading clinic?
My son is being recommended for the program for 4th grade next year. He has
struggled with reading since K and now has an IEP for visual and auditory
processing deficiencies (aka dyslexia). He has been receiving pull-out
reading tutoring at his current Oakland public school but the teacher and
resource specialist told me they aren't seeing any progress in his reading.
This is now affecting his math abilities and his attitude.
The reading clinic is a collaborative effort between OUSD and the
Lindamood-Bell corp. It is 2 hours a day, 5 days a week, in the mornings
and then the kids are bused back to their individual schools.
How did your child respond to the program? Specifically in reading
improvement, comprehension, etc; did your child enjoy the program, and how
did they (and you) handle the transisition back to the classroom each day?
We need to do something but I'm worried about how he will manage the rest of
4th grade while missing most of the mornings every day.
My son attended the OUSD reading clinic in 3rd grade and I can't recommend it highly
enough. Prior to the reading clinic he couldn't really read. He made huge
improvement and enjoyed the experience as well. I'm happy to answer any questions
you have about it.
I'd like to hear from parents who have their preschooler in OUSD's
Burbank school, or anyone who has information about this school. It has
been difficult to find information about Burbank - my understanding is
that when Tilden closed, they moved the special needs programs and
teachers to Burbank, but I don't know if this is correct. I am the
mother of a high functioning 3.5 year old boy on the spectrum, and am
trying to decide between Burbank and a more typical preschool. Any
information about teachers, program, etc. would be appreciated.
I suggest attending OUSD's Community Advisory Committee meeting on September
12. You will meet other parents and can get the type of advice for which you
are asking. You can subscribe to the group list by writing to
OUSD SpecEd CAC email@example.com
There will be a meeting at and about Burbank on January 9th. The CAC's
agenda for the year can be found at the group's wiki here:
The OUSD Sped Parent Handbook here:
From CAC Oakland's email list:
Another school year is upon us and OUSD's Community Advisory Community
for Special Education (CAC) will be holding its first meeting of the year on
Monday, September 12th at Family Resource Network, 5232 Claremont Avenue in
Oakland (the BANANAS building near the DMV). For our first meeting we will
have a potluck starting at 6pm so that we can catch up with old friends and
meet new ones. The meeting begins about 6:30pm and the featured topic this
month is Advocacy 101: At School, in the District, and Beyond. We will be
talking about everything from ''how do I talk to other parents/guardians
about my child?'' to ''how do I make sure my child is getting the support
he/she needs?'' to ''how can I support my teachers?'' and more.
The Director of OUSD's Programs for Exceptional Children (Special
Education) will also talk about the recent re-organization which follows the
new regional model the District has adopted. And we will have time for
community questions and concerns.
I am looking for a Pre-K CH class (Communication Handicap) for
my daughter who will be 5 y.o. May 2009. Does anyone know of a
city that has one? I heard Oakland has one but I heard they were
closing Tilden. I was wondering if anyone's child has attended
one in either Oakland, Berkeley, Alabany, Alameda, or the
There are CH classes throughout the Oakland schools, from
Marshall to Bella Vista to Tilden (which I hadn't heard is
closing) and beyond. The OUSD team that meets with you will make
recommendations for placing your child. If you'd like to talk
with parents who have been through the same thing, you might come
to a support group organized by two OUSD moms; the next meeting
is Thursday, January 29, from 7:00-8:30 PM at Communication
Works, 4400 Keller Ave., Suite 200, Oakland. If you want to
connect online, try the social networking site 8 Second Rule,
also created by an OUSD mom, http://8secondrule.ning.com/ .
We have just learned that our son may have some mild sensory
integration issues. He also has speech issues. He has been
thriving in a play based preschool called Inch By Inch. This has
added a whole new dimension to our search for the right
kindergarten. Can anyone reccommend a school in the Oakland
area, private or public, that addresses these issues well? I
would love to hear from families who have been through this.
Hi, I am an occupational therapist working for OUSD. There are
SO many good kindergarten teachers out there. Rather than really
focusing on a specific school, I think it depends on the
teacher's flexibility and openness to using sensory strategies in
his/her classroom to meet an individual child's sensory needs.
Since you can't pick the teacher, it is hard to determine where
would be the best fit for your child. I have not worked in every
single school in the district, but from my experience, I can say
that Hillcrest, North Oakland Community Charter School (NOCCS),
Lighthouse Community Charter School (downtown), Peralta, and
Chabot all have great K teachers who would be sensitive to your
child's needs. There are probably many others. I hope people
will respond to your post who have their children in OUSD and can
speak to specific teachers/schools. Best of luck to you in
finding the right fit!
I am the mother of a three year old who is exhibiting signs of a speech delay. I just
returned from his 3 year check-up, and his pediatrician agreed with me that his
language is not where it should be for his age. He has a large vocabulary of nouns,
and some 3-4 word sentences, but cannot hold up a conversation of more than 2
sentences or answer questions, never asks questions, and does not express
I have been given referals to Children's Hospital for a hearing screening and speech
and cognitive development evaluations. My insurance will pay for half of the
diagnostics, and none of the speech therapy, so I will be going through the Oakland
School District if he qualifies. I would like to address the problem as efficiently as
possible. I am not sure if I should set up an evaluation through the school district,
or if it would be quicker and help move things along if I went ahead with an
independent assesment. If anyone has relevant experience to share - who to talk to,
what to ask for, programs to look into - I would greatly appreciate it
You might try calling CEID (Center on Early Intervention on Deafness).
CEID is a model early intervention program for babies and young
children who have hearing impairments and severe speech and
language delays. They have a pediatric audiology suite on site and
offer speech therapy and many other services. They're a great resource.
Their number is (510) 848-4800 and they are located at 1035 Grayson
Street in Berkeley (off San Pablo just north of Ashby Avenue). http://
You're taking action about the speech issue at exactly the
right time. Early intervention makes a huge difference. Our son
is now 4 and he's been in speech therapy for about a year,
which has made an incredible difference in his ability to speak
clearly and be understood. There is still work to be done, but
it is happening right before our eyes.
Your referral to Children's for a hearing assessment is always
the first step. You need to know if there are any organic
reasons for the delay. Our son had some hearing loss and had
tubes inserted in both ears last May. Dr. Wesman at Children's
runs the hearing program and he is absolutely wonderful. Not
touchy, feely...just really good at getting things done.
Whatever you decide to do about private speech therapy (we
decided against it), get your child assessed by the school
district. They are required to develop an Independent Education
Program (IEP) for any child deemed to have an issue that needs
to be remediated. That IEP will follow your child through her
entire school career and entitles you to access to all district
speech services AND private services if the district is unable
to resolve the problem, or ANY speech issue that might arise
later in her school career
Hi, good for you for getting an early start on this. It was
actually our preschool teacher who picked up on some odd speech
patterns in my 3-yr-old, and she suggested I contact OUSD. I did
not even know about Children's services. Anyhow, we went through
OUSD and while it was not exactly a zippy process, it was fine.
Her symptoms were slight enough that it took a couple of
evaluations before they were sure she qualified. The personnel we
have dealt with have all been outstanding, including our speech
therapist at Montclair Elem and OT's at Tilden and Montclair. If
you can afford Children's diagnostic process, I would gather as
much info as possible and do that too. There is also a private
group called Word Works in Oakland that offers free screenings
from time to time. You could try to get in there as well. With
younger preschoolers, it is sometimes hard to pin down a
diagnosis, but there are certainly treatable symptoms. We still
don't really know what my daughter's diagnosis is, but she is
having amazing results through 45 minutes of speech therapy a
week and consistent follow-up at home and at school. Best of luck
Your message is one of the reasons I troll through the ''Advice
Wanted'' newsletters - to try to share some experience and get you
hooked up with others who can provide some advice and support!
My son (now 11) was diagnosed at about 4, and we started with a
private assessment through Childrens and subsequently with a
developmental pediatrician, as the speech language pathologist
wanted to make sure that other things she observed were also
That pediatrician recommended that we contact OUSD to get our son
into a speech language focused preschool, which we did. (Tilden
Preschool) This required a full-on assessment by the district -
psych testing, speech language, OT because we suggested that
might be part of it. It takes a few months to get it all done, so
get started! You can certainly pursue the private assessments
and therapies too (we did; it seems that the earlier you pile on
the corrective measures, the more rapidly gains are made.) We
did private speech, OT and ''floor time'' play therapy to address a
variety of issues including tantrums.
Please feel free to contact me via email, as there are lots of
other things that can be helpful. The material in the archives
that is more recent is specifically posted around ''Learning
Disabilities'', which is pertinent - but how would you know to
call it that? I guess I should do a separate posting that lays
out the process steps people go through so it can be posted under
''Language Delays in Preschool Aged Children'', and see if we can
get it posted.
My other advice to you is to hook up later with the Oakland ''CAC''
or Community Advisory Committee, which is essentially the
parent-staff group for special needs children, teachers, schools
etc. in Oakland. You can contact them to be put on the mailing
list at cacoakland[at]comcast.net
Fire me an email and we'll see if you want to do a phone call or
if I can find you a parent to talk to whose child is at Tilden now
Good for you for looking for the best way to help your child.
I'm not sure it's an either/or situation - that is, you may be
better off getting an evaluation through your insurance and
also requesting one from OUSD. You could also see if the SLP
from Children's could be present at your child's IEP meeting
with the school district, although you may have to pay for that
privately. That way, if there's anything unclear in the report
the SLP will be there to clarify and expand on it, and possibly
advocate for you (although that may not be necessary). Good
Make a written request of the district describing the problems
and asking for an evaluation in ''all areas of suspected
disability.'' Phone the Infant to 5 year old referral office (510)
879 - 1766 to ask where to deliver the request or send with
delivery confirmation. (Bring two copies and have the
receptionist initial date and time of receipt.) The district then
has two weeks to provide you with an assessment plan to sign and
return and another 60 days to complete the initial evaluation and
hold a meeting to discuss the results. Services agreed to at that
meeting will start more or less immediately.
Contact me directly if you would like more information.
Dana Lear, DrPH
Negotiating the Maze
Special Education Advocacy, Research, Support
I believe the Preschool Diagnostic Team at OUSD is more used to
evaluating 3-year-olds and then recommending services than in
looking over private reports and then figuring out services.
Doing it the ''regular'' way will probably make it faster. Through
OUSD, a speech-delayed preschooler may get one-on-one speech
therapy at a nearby school, group speech therapy, or be enrolled
in a Special Day Class (at the somewhat run-down but EXCELLENTLY
staffed Tilden School) that is specially tailored to help kids
his age with communication. I would trust the Diagnostic Team to
place your preschooler appropriately. After he is getting some
speech therapy (or more) through OUSD, you then have some time to
do additional evaluations at Children's that might help fine-tune
ways to help your child. (OUSD staff cannot, for example, give
your child a diagnosis.) The most urgent thing is to put a
request for an evaluation in writing (this is called referring
yourself) and mail it to: OUSD Preschool Diagnostic Team, 2850
West St., Oakland CA 94601. Then you can follow it up with a
phone call, 879-1766. If you're looking for additional parent
advice, I think Tilden (tilden.ousd.k12.ca.us) has an active PTA
--Mom of successful Tilden School grad
i used to work with kids with language delays, and there are a
few things I feel compelled to mention:
1. sooner is better -- IF your kid has a language delay, the
sooner you start therapy, the better.
2. when dealing with a school district (I didn't work for OUSD)
the priciple of ''the squeaky wheel gets the grease'' absolutely
applies. Resources are limited, and the parents that complain
the most, call the most meetings, and are generally the most
annoying usually get more of what they want than the passive
parents. Consider hiring an advocate.
Dear Concerned Mom - my son was also diagnosed with a speech delay when he
was three. The good news is that there is a lot of support in the East Bay for
children with communication delays. I know it is a daunting experience once you
begin down this path. We have given my son services in a number of different
We were anxious to get my son speech support immediately so we started with
private speech therapy sessions twice a week while we investigated other options
and got him assessed by the Oakland School District. You should definitely get
assessed by OUSD -- it is a huge bureaucracy to deal with and the special ed
department is overwhelmed but if you are a ''squeeky wheel'' progress can be
If there is a long delay in getting your son assessed at Children's Hospital (I
quoted 3 months just for an appointment) you may want to try Alta Bates' Herrick
Campus -- it also assesses children but is not as impacted as Children's Hospital.
My son was tested at Herrick in a very timely matter. I also had my son fully
assessed by a developmental pediatrician -- your general pediatrician could give
you recommendations of some in this area. Our dev. pediatrician has been great by
helping sort through decisions and placements for our child and working with the
school district to get ther right resources. We have used a combination of
and public support. I hope this helps a bit.
this page was last updated: Aug 31, 2013
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