Special Education in the Albany School District

Parent Q&A

Albany School District Special Education Problems May 19, 2020 (9 responses below)
Albany School District - Problems with advocacy/504/IEP issues Jun 13, 2017 (4 responses below)
  • We have had our kids in the Albany schools since Kindergarten, and have been reasonably happy with their experience until they entered Albany High School.  After a year and a half of incessant bullying at Albany High, our daughter made a serious suicide attempt and is now in a therapeutic boarding school which combines clinical treatment with special education.  We requested an IEP evaluation shortly after she started treatment, and we have experienced nothing but foot-dragging, stonewalling, and non-communication ever since.  They are now using the Covid-19 shut down as a blanket excuse to not complete the IEP evaluation, even though we signed and returned the evaluation plan on February 13, a full month before the shutdown.  We are in shock that a district we have been a part of for 11 years is washing their hands of our daughter's special education needs.  We are being told that IEP evaluations will not happen until the kids return to school physically, whenever that happens.  So they expect us to send our daughter back into the same environment with no support services in place, and then they will think about evaluating her.  I never thought I would be in a position where I would be contemplating suing my previously beloved AUSD.  My questions (finally) are:   Has anyone had success with working with Albany High to address targeted bullying?  Has anyone successfully negotiated an IEP placement in an outside therapeutic school for mental health issues (like Hogan) with AUSD?  Did it require getting a lawyer?  Does the county play a role in special education when districts fail to provide FAPE?    Would Berkeley High provide better special education services (if we could get a transfer?)  Thank you for any and all input.

    I am so sorry to hear about your difficulties.  Our situation was different but  involved dealing with AHS around getting a 504 plan in place.  My child had a medical diagnosis requiring special accommodations. I consulted with this local non-profit DREDF who have advocates with very useful information.  I realize you are not dealing with a disability, yet they may still provide some information.  Once I knew what language to use, AHS completely changed their tune and we had a meeting in place quickly as well as the 504.  It really pays to be informed and parents do have rights.  I hope you can get this worked out.  Best of luck with it!  Albany parent.

    I am so sorry this is happening. Perhaps consider joining local Facebook groups specifically for parents of children with IEP-related needs.  They are an incredible resource as they have so much combined experience. I've seen them pool ideas on issues just like the one you are facing. Thanks also for going public. It's very important that we all know.

    While I realize this doesn't answer your questions directly, I wanted to let you know that I am a special education teacher is a different district.  Our district is not conducting initial evaluations either during the school closure as there does not (yet?) seem to be a good way to assess students from a distance.

  • Hello,

    I am a single parent with a teenager at Albany High School (AHS) who has a special education plan. I have had a world of problems interacting with the counselors and the administration at AHS. I feel like they are constantly withholding information from me--everything from programs and classes my child is eligible for, to school policies. It is like pulling teeth to get them to offer information. 

    Has anyone else had this issue with AHS before? Either in regards to 504/IEP plans, or just in general?

     I could have wrote this post years ago. I thought the same way as my son was going through high school; he had an IEP his entire school career. In the schools defense often times teachers are not aware of the programs and services that are available for students. Depending on what track your son is on ( graduation versus certificate of completion )  they may just focus on the programs and services that are going to benefit him the most in achieving his goals and academic requirements. I would highly encourage you to attend the Adult Transition Fair that is held yearly in the spring. It will help you get a greater perspective of what is out there and make informed decisions on your sons individual  transition plan.  Are you a client of the Regional Center of the East Bay? If so I would encourage you to have your case manager attend every IEP meeting going forward. 

     Having a clear idea of your  sons hopes and dreams for his future is the most important thing. My son just graduated from Alameda High School this month and there are many things I wish I would have done differently in regards to IEP goals in high school to set him up for success in the future. 

    Good luck! It sounds like you are an awesome Mom and advocate for your child!!

    You might consider/attempt a transfer to Berkeley High School. Their Special Education Department is responsive, compassionate, professional and very intelligent. What an awesome staff! 

     I feel your pain. This has been a constant battle for me also since elementary school and we are doing the same battle in Albany Middle School. They are definitely not forthcoming with the information of what's available but what I found helpful is some groups on Facebook. Many of these people have gone through or are going through the same Issues  and I find they are quite helpful . 

    One of the groups that is local is called decoding dyslexia CA. When she start searching you can find many other groups.

    I would definitely like to stay in touch if possible as we will be heading up to high school in another year. 

     The Best of luck 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Oct 2015

RE: AUSD, SFUSD, and special needs

My kids go to school in Albany. I think it has a terrific program for special needs, with an emphasis on inclusion to the extent possible. My kids have had at least one kid with an aide in their class most years. They also have the special day class and all the supports but they really try to have as much inclusion as the kid can handle, which is great for all the kids. Anon

Education Lawyer for special needs kid in Albany

March 2013

We are an Albany family with a special needs kid who is now getting pushback from the school. We are hoping to speak to a lawyer about next steps. Does anyone have a recommendation on an education lawyer who is familiar with the Albany Unified district? Needs help

Hello, I'm mom to two special needs children in Oakland, ages 4 and 7. I have found FRN (Family Resource Network) to be of HUGE help in these matters. I suggest talking to one of the parent advocates there before seeking a lawyers' services. They will often help you resolve issues before letting things get that far. I believe the director, Eileen is an Albany parent herself. They will attend IEPs and mediations etc. Their number is 510-547-7322 http://www.frnoakland.org/pages/enter.php Lilian

What is your opinion of special ed in Albany?

April 2011

I have a 6 year old daughter with significant language and cognitive delays. She is currently in a SH class in WCCUSD. The only time she is with ''regular ed'' children is during recess. I am considering moving to Albany because I believe that AUSD would provide her with a program where she would be more integrated with ''regular ed'' kids while providing her with all the support she needs.

If you have or had a child with special needs (and an IEP) in Albany Unified, please let me know your overall opinion of his/her education there. Did your child receive enough support? Was s/he significantly integrated in the school? How did the other children treat your child?

Thank you for taking the time to respond! -Mother-of-Special Needs Child

I have a daughter who is 13 and currently attending AMS. She is a gifted child who has severe learning dis. and emotional, and social issues.

I moved her from Raskob school in Oakland into Ocean view at the end of 4th grade, and she stayed there for all of 5th grade before moving to Albany middle school.She did not do well emotionally at Raskob and I was holding my breath when she started Ocean view, but it turned out to be the best experience to date for her.

She had SE classes for reading and math, but was in a regular classroom as well, where her teacher was great and was able to focus on her abilities and work with her strengths. Middle school, came and that all went out the window .

They put her in the ''resourse room'', which is a class room of 12-14 1 teacher and 1 aid, for all kids that are struggling.There was definitely no specific education plan to address her learning dis.in the ''resource room''.

After obtaining an advocate form DREDF, and going to metting after meeting she now has a modified schedule that is working better for her. my experience is that the folks are really nice at AMS but didnt listen to me as a parent until I brought in an Advocate to back me up.My daughter now has one on one with the reading specialists , small math class and likes her GE teacher for English and History. I cant say she's doing great but much better after a 2-year fight.Good luck and hang in there! -jackie

I have a child in special education at Cornell. He is in the general ed classroom with full-time paraprofessional assistance, and he has pull-outs for other services. Without seeing your daughter's assessment or IEP I can't begin to speculate about what her placement would be. However, I can tell you that the school is very inclusive of children with special needs. They are members of a wonderful school community. The principal talks about what a privilege it is to have a special day class at Cornell and cultivates an environment of respect. We also think very highly of the SDC teacher. Our experience with special education in Albany has been very good overall. If you have any more specific questions, you can ask the moderator for my email address. Special Ed Mom

Attorney for IEP disagreement with Albany school

March 2010

I have a child in Special Education with ADD and some language processing issues. We have been in an ongoing disagreement with our school district (Albany USD) over his IEP and are at the point that I think we need an attorney to help us, as we are heading toward filing a suit (due process complaint) against the district for failing to provide appropriate services, and several other issues. Any suggestions? Unhappy Albany parent

Catherine Doble is a great attorney from what I have heard. Unfortunately I do not have her number. I am also an Albany parent and unhappy. Would be interested to know which school your child attends and what grade he/she is in. Also are you a member of the Yahoo groups put on by an Albany Parent for families who have children with special needs? My child has processing issues and I would have to agree that I don't think they are addressing the issues appropriately. Frankly, I don't think they know what to do. Good luck. anonymous

DREDF will be able to provide some legal advice. They may also be able to refer you to an attorney. http://www.dredf.org/ Good Luck