Special Ed options for Middle School other than OUSD

Our child needs therapeutic and pull out support for behavioral and learning challenges. We're looking at middle schools outside of Oakland. We think we might be priced out of the schools that might work best, but are checking here in case folks have some advice/options we haven't thought about. Maybe Concord? San Leandro? Castro Valley?

5th grade experience was at a great school community - strong principal, excellent therapist team, thoughtful assessments.  But OUSD repeatedly did not evaluate and update our child's progress, did not follow up with IEPs, missed important areas we needed addressed. There were major and chronic deficits in the resourcing and training of "mainstream" faculty on effective practices communicating with special ed staff and supporting our child's needs. There was a constant battle to get assignments recorded and shared clearly and bringing our child along clearly and adequately only happened 50% of the time.  Most students who had challenges were physically separated from the school population even for many all-school events. 

6th grade, middle school, was better with more experienced (though even less resourced) special ed staff and therapy. Excellent site leadership in so many ways.  But the school is likely best for folks who are primarily Spanish speakers and the parent and student culture relies on this (so awesome for some, but not a great fit for us as it played out). Our child is most interested in choir, band, theater, etc. and those programs are only sporadically offered. After school program was poorly supervised with constant turnover and could really only work for the kids who are most socially capable. We were the only QTBLG family which was not ideal, but relatively minor in most ways.

Leaving this school and still staying in OUSD isn't really an option. Middle schools options for the therapeutic support we need are extremely limited. 

For 7th grade, we are open to the idea of selling our house, moving, renting, really getting into a place with more opportunities and resources. This will mean more commuting, possibly considerably smaller housing, etc.  We've been considering other states with stronger special ed resources (there are many) and middle schools where there are arts programs, therapy, and less turnover at the top (OUSD is in a total churn there). But we increasingly think we may need to stay. 

Have others been in this position?  Are you happy with the special ed services in your non-OUSD district? 

It looks like we'd be priced out of Alameda, Berkeley, Albany, (the usual suspects).
We haven't found private schools that have the support we need.
We expect to be fully mainstreamed in the next year so special ed - only schools aren't the best fit either.

Here's what we are hoping for:

Daily on-site therapy for students with behavioral challenges. (Rare in Oakland middle schools but we see this district-wide in other states.)
Strong experienced team that is used to communicating about IEPs, assignments, between special ed team and mainstream faculty.
A parent-involved school culture that includes regular communications about ways to be involved and connect families.
QTLBG, racial, income diversity. 
Trauma-responsive counseling.

Thanks for any thoughts or resources. 

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My son goes to Core Academy Jr High in WC. It is a school that specializes in identifying your child's learning style and teaching them how they need to learn. It is not a traditional school but my son has done very well in this small learning environment. Www.coreacademy.net

Check out The Phillips Academy in Alameda--a nonpublic school--paid for by your school district. All students have IEPs, highly therapeutic environment with full time therapists on staff. I worked there for 20 years--recently retired. You may have to fight with your school district to get your child placed but we have many Oakland students. Very LGBT friendly and supportive. Call director Dr. Esther Cohen 510-864-3503. Tell her Helen sent you. Good luck!!

A parent had similar problems with BUSD. Since you mention moving as an option-- when she moved to Santa Cruz, she found that the schools provided more of what her child needed. I will introduce you via e-mail. I am sure she would be happy to share info. You can contact me via my BPN username.

We moved from Oakland to Berkeley for the schools. My son is partially deaf and qualifies for an IEP but has no learning issues associated with it. The IEP process at our Oakland elementary school was kinda non-existent the first year, but when a new principal came in, it was just ok.

I have to say that the quality of the IEP process and follow-up at Berkeley is incredible, but again, my kid does not have learning disabilities so I can't speak to that. But the organization and teamwork has been amazing. That said, the school is huge!!!!! 1,300 kids!!! Lots of room to get into trouble, but lots of great kids, too. Also, parent involvement really steps down in middle school, there is so much more responsibility given to the teen and it was a rough transition for my son. 

Berkeley is crazy expensive to buy a home in. We were lucky to get in before it got really bad. But you don't have to buy- our friends from OUSD are renting out their Oakland home (to cover their mortgage) and then are renting an apartment in Albany to send their girls to school there. They plan on renting in Albany until their youngest graduates high school, and then moving back to their Oakland home for the rest of their days- they love their home and could not afford to buy it again.

But the Oakland schools...well, out of 63 5th graders in our elementary class only 3 of them enrolled in the local public middle school. Oakland still has a terrible problem with the schools, and I admire the amazing teachers who stay despite the lack of pay and resources. None of us should have to make this agonizing choice about educating our kids- shouldn't our local schools be able to support all kids in a safe and nurturing environment??? Yeah, we can dream. But in the meantime, good luck to you guys. Just please don't move to a crappy, homophobic place where you are gonna be unhappy for 6 years or more. You didn't mention jobs... but if there is any way that you could live an hour from SF, have you checked out Petaluma? It is so great!!! I have heard that their schools are awesome. Our in-laws moved there and we have been spending time there and I really like it. Best to you guys!

Hi. I just want to warn you not to come to Danville or San Ramon. The San Ramon valley USD is very difficult to deal with for special ed. Castro valley used to be very good but idk if it still is. Good luck!

Wish I knew more specfics about which schools you are talking about.

Our son, on the autism spectrum, is a Thornhill  elementary and Hillcrest Middle School alumnus.  he is now an adult, college graduate, with a good job.

Teachers are not perfect.  If you can work in a partnership with yourself, the resource teacher, and and classroom teacher, that is the foundation for success.

My knowleged of OUSD is outdated.  Get in touch with the Community Advisory Committee for special ed (CAC).  Ask the resource teacher. Good luck!