Best School District for Special Needs

My son turns 5 this October. He begins kindergarten in August 2024. He will continue with ABA one more year until he transitions into elementary school. A neurodevelopmental psychologist assessed our son and wrote a report, which includes that he requires a full-time one-on-one aide. Our son is nonverbal and is not potty trained. He also does not understand how to use utensils or does not feed himself. He cannot sit still and needs to constantly move his body to self-regulate. He was classified as moderate to severe. We are debating between the Lafayette School District and San Ramon Valley Unified School District (SRVUSD). We were told by a couple of families that they were unable to get SRVUSD to assign a one-on-one aide. This was despite their child needing one. This was not for an intensive case, but a case similar to ours. I am very worried about our son. We want to make sure he receives the right support and accommodations. Could someone please provide information on whether the Lafayette School District is resistant to providing a one-on-one aide? Additionally, I would appreciate any additional details about SRVUSD and any guidance on how to navigate these situations successfully. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

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I’m a general education teacher. I don’t have experience in either of the school districts mentioned. However, I feel that ALL school districts are resistant to providing one-on-one aides because they are expensive and the district must abide by the “least restrictive environment” law. If at all possible, hire a parent advocate to help you with navigating the IEP process. I hope your son gets what he needs!

Initially I did not reply to your question because our son who is on the spectrum has been out of school for quite awhile - he is now 34 and very successful in his career.

But I must say - it was a one-on-one aide who got our son over the hump, from being a major time-suck for teachers in elementary school to being on track to succeed in life.

Here's our story:

In eighth grade, our son could not stay on task, and could not write more than one or two consecutive sentences.  I was very frightened for him.

This was the period of time when the OUSD superintendent was Dennis Chaconas, and the head of special educaton was Vivian Lura. The former could not balance the checkbook, and the latter figured out that it was cost effective to give parents what they demanded, in terms of services for their special needs children, instead of going to court. (Neither was on the job very long."

But while the good times lasted, enter Katie, a credentialed special ed teacher from Florida who was awaiting her California certification.  She figured out what would motivate our son to stay on task: one afternoon per week in the library. She used behavior modification scaled up to the needs of an intelligent thirteen-year-old.

The academic success that followed set the stage for our son earling good high school grades, being accepted to UC Davis, and a being hired in good internship with a public agency.  Now he has a steady civil service job and an MA in public administration.

Maybe our son is an outlier, but it was the one-on-one aide who made the difference.

Vivian Lura, and the director of special ed who followed her, the late Phyllis Harris, realized that one-on-one aides should be classified as "para-professionals" and paid accordingly. Before that they were classified with janitors.

The right person can make a major difference in a child's life.

I would urge you to push for the right person to be with your child during the critical years when they are capable of being inspired and motivated.

OUSD "overlooked" and missed the 3 mentions of a one-on-one aide in our IEE, which meant they also "neglected" to tell us that the IEE recommendation means bupkes and a second OUSD internal evaluation is required to approve an aide. This was on the day before school ended and would have meant our child would not receive an aide were one approved until January. Another parent described the results of those evaluations as predetermined "nos".