Public vs. Private School for Learning Differences
Our daughter was diagnosed with ADHD at the end of first grade. We put her on Adderal, which helped tremendously, and go her weekly tutoring. She continued to have problems, so in sixth grade we had a neuropsych exam at UC that showed elements of LD as well as slow processing. She was in private school from pre-K through 8th grade, and is now at Berkeley High.
Private schools are under no requirement to accommodate, and have limited resources to do so. Even if your child is accepted, he may not get much help. While I think we did OK at our kid's private school, other parents whose kids have ADHD were deeply dissatisfied. If you go with public schooling, you can use some of the money saved for tutoring, which has helped us a lot. On the flip side, private-school small class size and personal attention can be helpful. It may boil down to which private versus which public school you're looking at. My kid's public-school teachers are every bit as dedicated and individually supportive as the private-school ones were. There are private schools focused on kids with learning issues, locally including Raskob (https://www.raskobinstitute.org/).
Re IEPs: we thought our daughter qualified for an IEP, but we ended up with a 504. I had also read what various websites said was the law, but Berkeley schools at this point operate under a newer, perfectly legal achievement-based standard, and our kid simply wasn't that far behind even though she was achieving well below her IQ-based capacity. In an ideal world, smart kids with learning issues would get instruction that addresses both the smarts and the disabilities, but public schools really don't have the resources. Public schools are required to educate kids with a huge range of profound disabilities, and that sets the level for special ed. So far we have been fine with a 504, though now that we aren't paying tuition we plan to increase the tutoring. We haven't gotten any financial support for outside tutoring, and frankly, if your son is not profoundly disabled, he isn't likely to be deemed eligible.
Applying for an IEP entails doing a new set of tests much like the neuropsych evaluation you have already gotten, though they will use different tests, and will base their decision on the tests they administer. Our kid looked less disabled based on their tests compared to the neuropsych evaluation. The IEP meeting will be stacked against you, in that there will be five or six of them and maybe two of you attending the meeting, and they are a lot more experienced at this than you are. If you go this route, pay attention to the various time-lines and all the other bureaucratic details.
A good resource regarding legal issues is the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (https://dredf.org/). Another good resource is WrightsLaw, https://www.wrightslaw.com/. I strongly recommend subscribing to Attention Research Update, http://www.helpforadd.com, which summarizes current ADHD research in clear terms -- free, and no ads.
hi there, my son just began public middle school in Berkeley and also has dyslexia. We thought he would be going to a private middle school and applied to several (that were not focused on learning disabilities) and they did not accept him. I think it was an eye-opener for me. It may be hard to find a place in a mainstream school. However, so far our son loves his public middle school and sees his educational therapist twice a week after school (not in school). There are schools in the Bay Area that specialize in dyslexia, including Raskob in Oakland, the Sterne School in SF, and the Charles Armstrong School on the Peninsula. Good luck!
I want to chime in about private middle school vs. public middle school for a kid with learning differences. My son with severe ADD (no hyperactivity but serious attention deficit including executive function) was not accepted at any of the private middle schools we applied to, including some of those recommended to you. So he instead attended a Berkeley public middle school, Willard, armed with a 504 plan as recommended by his developmental pediatrician. He had an absolutely wonderful experience. Even though he was transitioning from a tiny K-6 private school, and he knew almost no one at the new middle school, he adjusted quickly and had a surge in learning and academic skills during his two years there. Almost all of his teachers were very receptive to the idea of learning differences and supportive of him as well as all the kids, de-emphasizing busy work and instead focusing on whether they were learning the material. Because of the much larger student body, my child was able to find like-minded souls who he has remained friends with into high school. And by the way, in 6th grade most public middle schools do not have multiple teachers with multiple classrooms. At least in Berkeley and Oakland (and probably others) 6th graders have only 2 teachers and are fairly isolated from the 7th and 8th graders, with the intention of transitioning them from elementary school to middle school.
Good luck! Middle school can be fun!