Moving to the East Bay and looking for best public high school for special needs

I am moving from the South Bay to the East Bay for two reasons. 1. to be able to help my mother out more who has been ill. She is in Walnut Creek. 2. To find a better school for my daughter who will be entering 9th grade and has dyslexia and ADHD. She has been in private school her whole life but did not get in to the schools she applied to because of her testing. Specifically, I am interested in anyone who has any info on the following schools and their learning difference programs: Los Lomas, Northgate, Acalanes, College Park, Alhambra Senior High, Cal High. Also open to any of the surrounding area if anyone has any stellar reviews. Private is not an option so please do not suggest that. I have no idea where to get this info so if anyone has any insight, experience or even hear say, I would love to hear from you. Thanks.

Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

Good luck on your move!  It sounds stressful.  After working in public high schools in San Francisco for 20 years I would say that schools can be different from year to year in the quality of their responses to students with learning differences, depending on the experience and longevity of the administration, counseling, and teaching staff.  Most students with ADHD and dyslexia have a 504 plan or an IEP plan.  If you are not familiar with 504 and IEP take the time now to learn all you can about them.  The school psychologist is a key person, it is great if they are at the school full time but should be at least half time.  I'm a nurse practitioner and have been involved in many 504 plans that worked well, and many that didn't work well. Parent involvement is crucial.  And much of the success of the plan will depend on your daughter, too.  One last thing, has your daughter ever been tested?  Knowing where her strengths and challenges are, in terms of processing and memory, are key to helping making meaningful classroom  accommodations.  It also doesn't hurt if the school has a health center, and a nurse, as these support staff work behind the scenes for the success of your student.  I wish you well!!

I am not sure about locations, but you might want to check out REALM Charter High School in Berkeley. I teach Special Ed there and we have a good full inclusion program. School is small and focus is on project based learning and college prep.

Google SEED in Lafayette.  Can't remember the exact acronym but they're a very active parent organization for kids with special needs.  They should know the specs on the area schools.

Our daughter also has dyslexia and ADHD and has been VERY well served by her school, K2, in El Cerrito.  It is a public charter school and they are wonderful there at working with each child's particular strengths and weaknesses.  Best of luck finding a wonderful school for your daughter!

I have a child with ADHD and dyslexia (but no behavior issues), so I understand how hard it is to find good options.

First, I would recommend contacting DREDF to understand the public school process for special needs.  You can talk to a counselor who can provide some information and leads that might be helpful.  DREDF is a free parent information center that helps parents understand their rights for special education kids.  

You might contact Decoding Dyslexia CA for information, too.  In the past, the website has highlighted school districts that start making positive changes in dyslexia education.

If your child needs more help than the local school can provide, then Bayhill High School might be an option.  According to Bayhill, "Bayhill High School is the only WASC accredited, A-G approved, NCAA eligible for college admissions, non-public certified school in the greater Bay Area."  

As a non-public school, the tuition can be paid by parents or it can be covered by the local school district (if your child qualifies by failing in the regular school).  For us, this has been our Plan B if our child starts failing in regular schools, but it hasn't come to that yet.

Personally, I think the best way to find out whether a school might be a good fit is to call the Principal to discuss my child's needs.  I have found that the Principals are quite honest in discussing what they can offer, and it has allowed me to make better decisions about which schools would be a good (or bad) fit.  

Also, some school districts sometimes allow kids that don't live in the district to enroll in the alternative high school if they don't have full enrollment. In some  years, Millenium High School in Piedmont will accept certain select out of district students.  It is worth asking the Principals about their out of district policies for enrollment in the district's alternative high school if you think the school would be a good fit.  Please understand, this is just for the alternate high school.  It is almost impossible to get boundary exceptions to attend the regular high schools in a district.