Special Ed and Inclusion Programs in BUSD

Questions & Responses:
ISO Special Ed options for Middle School out of OUSD(6 responses)
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Questions about BUSD Special Ed

Questions about IEP and 504 at BUSD

Questions about BUSD Special Ed

Speech therapy in BUSD? 

Jan 2015
My kindergartener has a mild speech impediment that has always been the source of gentle teasing but is not correcting as he approaches 6. I would like to have him evaluated for therapy but have no idea where to start and can't find any info on the BUSD site. Any help appreciated. Thanks! tongue tied mom

A very good friend works as a speech pathologist at BUSD. I relayed your question to her and she wrote this back: It depends on what sounds your child is having difficulty producing. Some sounds are later-developing (i.e. not expected to be perfected at age 6), such as ''r, sh, ch, j, s, z, v and th''. If it's one or more of these sounds, you can ask the school Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) to observe your child. What she/he will likely do is see if your child is able to produce the sound when given cues (e.g. ''put your tongue behind your teeth like this, when you say an 's' sound''). If the child is able to produce the sounds when given cues, the SLP can send home worksheets for the child to practice (that way your child won't miss class in order to go to the speech room, but will still get the practice he/she needs). Or the SLP might see your child through a program called Response to Intervention (RtI), which is a way to work with kids who don't have a ''disorder''. If your child is producing more sounds incorrectly than the ones stated above, or if your child is unintelligible much of the time AS WELL AS having these problems negatively impact his/her ability to meet educational goals, the SLP would then evaluate the child. The evaluation will determine if your child has a speech disorder or not. Summary: Start by asking your school's SLP for an observation, and see what she/he says. Hope this helps!

My son received speech therapy from BUSD for a couple of years. For that to happen, he had to get an IEP (individual education plan). You can request IEP on your own (google IEP letter request and a bunch of examples come up). Your school can also recommend getting an IEP. The thing with the school district is that they would only provide therapy or accommodation or whatever else they decide is needed for the child to be able to perform at school and do school work at the appropriate level. So, I would word your IEP request around that, rather than saying your child's speech defect is a source of mild teasing. Teasing is bad, but doesn't interfere with school work, or at least it's a stretch to argue that it does. You can also get your child evaluated at her health provider. I did that at Kaiser, in addition to getting an IEP from the school district. It was good to have both, and it gave me confidence in the assessment done by the district, and helped me as a parent work with my child on my own. Speaking of which, speech therapy is great, but it happens once or twice a week, or whatever the frequency, but then we parents are able to help our children the rest of the time. It was very helpful to me to watch how the therapist worked with my child, and then apply her technique on my own. By the way, the speech therapist at BUSD was phenomenally great, but she's retired since. I am sure the new one is good, too. good luck!

Special Needs PreSchool for Deaf & PDD-NOS

March 2011

Hello, I need any personal recommendations or experiences if you've had a special need's child and has dealt with BUSD. I'm new to the area and I'm curious what programs are out there and I've done some research but it seems like it's difficult to find information on PreSchool or programs headed by BUSD for special need's kids. My son is about to transition to IEP. He's bilaterally CI'd (cochlear implanted) and was diagnosed early with PDD-NOS and is getting treatment that is home based. I know of CEID but there's a long wait list. I'm a worried mom not knowing what programs are out there that I can look into so I have my questions prepared for the programs they present. I also want to arrange tours if that's even possible. Thanks in advance for help with this. Also, any advice through the IEP process would be extremely beneficial and helpful! Thanks again! mamatoadeafboy

Have you read the Nolo Press book on special education and IEPs? It would be a good place to start, And focus your energy on the educational effects of his disability. http://www.nolo.com/lawyers/attorney/neil-allan-rones-4934.html -neil rones neilrones [at] mac.com

Contact the Berkeley Special Education Parents Network (BSPED) http://www.bsped.org/ We are a group of families of students in the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) who have special educational needs. -Jill

Which Central Zone school for special needs child?

Nov 2010

hello there BPN ers,

my sweet almost 5 year old is entering K in the fall of '11; which school in the central zone, in your opinion, is the best for her needs of partial hearing impairment/fine motor impairments?

She is in private speech and OT programs. Her hearing problems are not correctable, and I am struggling with BUSD to have her issues evaluated (and wow, they are not real helpful).

My little one is cheerful and motivated to learn despite her hearing loss and motor issues, and we are hopeful that there is a school in the central zone that would welcome her and her involved parents. We will happily take her to which ever school serves her needs best, and she is really excited to be going to K!

Any suggestions? gratefully, G's mom

Welcome to Kindergarten!! I think the quality and availability of services is going to be the same at all the schools, for the most part, because they're in the same district and the district determines services for an IEP. That said, my son has an IEP and goes to BAM and I have been VERY happy there. The staff has been very available and willing to work with us, we have a new Inclusion Coordinator this year who is great, and he has a district aide, actually two of them switch off working with him, and they are absolutely fantastic. Come by when we have our Kindergarten tours, you can chat with our principal and a parent volunteer, or contact me directly for more information.

If you're struggling with the district to get an evaluation, you might consider hiring an advocate or contacting DREDF at www.dredf.org. Also, join BSPED; more info here: http://www.berkeley.net/index.php?page=bsped Hope this helps! Jill

Definitely be persistent, yet respectful, with the school to get an evaluation. (as a heads up to other parents reading this, you can get an evaluation while your child is in preschool, and it is a good idea, since the waiting periods for getting the student an IEP assigned to speech therapist or other specialists can take some time. AND, they can get services even before they enter elementary school. Start ASAP with your district to avoid the kindergarten bottle neck.) For your little girl going into kindergarten in 2011, have you checked out John Muir Elementary in the south zone? and would it meet her needs? I recall that John Muir is where many of the children with hearing impairments go. If that would work for you, ask the district for her to be placed there. It may be way easier to get services on a regular basis there.

If you are still interested in central zone schools, each of them have great programs and access to special assistance. Schools are very good at keeping the kindergartners in their own area away from the big kids as needed. Some of the on site specialists change from year to year, as do the teachers, as do the principals. If you are intending to use an after school program, you can look into what is offered at each site. If you want something within walking distance, you may want to pick a closer school. Other than that, set up school visits - including John Muir, keep on the IEP folks and ask them about access to John Muir. Anon

We live in the central zone. It is a good idea to look at all the schools and rank your choices but you should be aware that you will not be able to pick which school your daughter goes to. The district will assign her to one of the schools. You can appeal the assignment after that but you can't count on getting into your top choice or even 2nd or 3rd choice. We were assigned to a school in the central zone that we did not even list as one of our choices. Also you should ask the district how special needs kids are assigned, because we found in our school a very high proportion of special needs kids compared to other schools in the zone. This may work in your favor or not, depending, but it is something you might want to know about ahead of time. anon

Move special ed child from private school to King?

June 2010

I would like to hear from parents with recent experiences with King MS in Berkeley for students with Learning Disabilities. I have a son with several LDs including ADHD, dysgraphia, slower processing speed and verbal fluency issues. He is super bright but getting words on a page is super difficult without loads of one-on-one help. Has anyone had recent experiences with King and accomodations for LD kids? I know that BUSD and King have a Special Ed team and that support staff / resources are supposed to be available for identified LD kids. How does this translate into real accomodations in the classroom and other learning support? Would love to hear recent experiences as I am needing to decide between keeping my child where he is and paying private tuition and extra tutoring support or moving him to King and eventually to Berkeley High. Am recently divorced so money is a real issue but do not want to make the move if the services required are not going to concretely be there for him when dealing with actual teachers, classroom situations and homework. Single Mom of 2 kids with LDs

Hi! You should consider joining BSPED, The Berkeley Special Education Parents Network, which represents families of students in the Berkeley Unified School District who have special educational needs. More info at www.berkeley.net/index.php?page=bsped Jill

BUSD inclusion programs

Nov 2007

I'm looking for information on special ed inclusion programs in Berkeley. My child with special needs will be entering the district next fall and we'd love feedback on other parents' experiences with the various inclusion specialists and programs in Berkeley. Our gut feeling is that we need a small school with a really supportive inclusion program where special ed teachers, regular ed teachers, parent and kids are supportive and accepting of kids with learning, physical, and speech differences. Our child will be in a regular classroom but will need a lot of support in many areas. Thanks! anon

My son is in Kindergarten at Berkeley Arts Magnet with his own 1:1 and I absolutely couldn't be happier. He's thriving there, his teachers are great, the other kids are great, I love the environment there, the other parents (for the most part) have been supportive. I like the principal, I like the Inclusion Support Teacher, and the best part is that he's actually learning. Feel free to contact me directly for more info. Jill

We have a child in inclusion at Le Conte. The inclusion specialist there is very dedicated, and the staff, especially the principle, are very supportive. It rubs off on the kids, too - my child has lots of friends who engage him on the playground or just yell hi when they see him passing, even though part of his disability is that he is nonverbal and has difficulty with eye contact, etc. I could write a book about our experience if I had the time. Please email me if you'd like to talk more on the phone. Jessica

Questions about IEP and 504 at BUSD

Entering King Middle School with 504 plan (BUSD)

Aug 2012

My son is about to enter King Middle School. At the end of 5th grade his insightful teacher recognized that his spelling scores were way below all his other subjects. Historically, he always excelled in math, but he was a late reader. His reading improved after third grade and he is now above grade level in everything but spelling. His teacher initiated testing and that confirmed her suspicions that my son has a learning disability. We squeezed a 504 plan into place right at the very end of 5th grade. Now that he is about to start middle school, I am unclear what is the most helpful way to approach my son's disability with King. Should I talk to the administration? Wait until he has classes and discuss it with his teachers? What have other parents done? He is an all around above grade level kid with this one glaring issue, although his reading was probably impaired in his earlier years. Thanks for any help. I am interested in what has and has not worked. Mom of Middle Schooler

Are you familiar with BSPED? You can find our information at the bottom of the page here: http://www.berkeleyschools.net/departments/special-education/ but you can also contact me for more information. We're a group of parents who have children with IEPs and 504s enrolled in BUSD schools and I'm sure there's somebody in our group who can help you. Jill H


IEP meeting - district may deny request for aide (BUSD)

Sept 2010

I just left from my son's iep meeting at King Middle School. He is an 11 year old twin, with cerebral palsy. Because Berkeley Unified only has inclusion programs for special ed. students, it's clear that he needs an i.a. to assist him throughout the day. I've been informed that the district will probably deny the request, even though it is his right, due to budget constraints; however they can do it if I ''fight'' for it. Any suggestions/recommendations? Thanks.

School districts cannot deny necessary support to a child with an IEP due to budget reasons! Contact us at Berkeley Special Education Parents Network, http://www.berkeley.net/index.php?page=bsped we are a support group for parents who have kids at BUSD with IEPs. Here are also some good articles to help you learn your rights in this area:

http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/relsvc.aide.steedman.htm http://www.wrightslaw.com/heath/parapro.qual.htm http://www.wrightslaw.com/heath/parapro.aide.htm 



Starting kindergarten in BUSD - how to get 504 plan?

Feb 2009

My child will be starting kindergarten in BUSD and will need a 504 plan due to a physical disability that requires some accommodations. I don't really know where to start and how to actually obtain the 504 and then ensure that the accommodations are in place...anyone who has been through the process -- can you give me some info? thanks so much...

Call the BUSD 504 Coordinator or go to the office at 1835 Allston Way. You will need to file a request for special education assessment to start the process. After the assessment, BUSD will meet with you to discuss the findings and determine what kind of plan is necessary for your student. Getting started now will ensure that you have a plan in place before your student starts kindergarten.

After you receive the plan, I highly recommend that you provide a copy to each of your student's teachers, every year. I copy my daughter's plan on brightly colored, 3-hole punched paper, and include a cover memo highlighting the most important accommodations. Good luck. anon

I'm not in the Berkeley district, but I can tell you what I did for my child. I wasn't sure where to start, so I asked for an IEP meeting from the special ed department in our district. It was determined (after all of the evaluations)that my daughter didn't qualify for an IEP, but she did qualify for a 504 plan. It was pretty much the same people involved in both. I would imagine that you could call the special ed office at BUSD and ask for a 504 evaluaton. Chances are that they will require your son to have an ''official'' diagnosis from whatever professional he sees before they will consider a meeting.

Unfortunately, I have had 2 friends in Berkeley with children who desperately need these services, and both were denied. One family wasn't even given the evaluation. I have a feeling that BUSD denies most people, and then you have to fight them. It might help to send them documentation from any other professionals or even to have one of them make the request for you. Good luck. dawn

Sorry my message is late, I am just catching up on reading some newsletters as I am quite busy with my special needs child too, although it's getting better, but NOT thanks to BUSD...You have to be extremely proactive with BUSD, and I've found I've had to pay for the needed services myself. Busy Parent


Preparing for an IEP for 3-y-o with ADS (BUSD)

March 2008

My son is 28 months old and diagnosed with ASD. He is mid - high functioning, but is just beginning to use words. Although it hasnt seem like I've had long to appreciate the pre 3 services he's had, I am looking into being informed for his IEP in the fall. I asked the OT about it today and she informed me that they will also do a transition meeting..What I thought to myself, even 9 months away seemed soon! It really stinks to be in an uninformed place after all the research I did for pre 3..I really need to gain more knowledge about this process and also would love advice as to a good parent advocate, if I should get an independent developmental assessment etc. as I would have to get on a list now to get in before his transition meeting in June. We are in the Berkeley School District. I would really appreciate hearing what others have done to prepare for this. I really don't want my son to just be given whatever because I havent done the proper leg work.

Hi - Good for you for doing your research, at my first IEP I was given whatever because I hadn't done the proper leg work ;)

There aren't a whole lot of options here in Berkeley, so my advice is to just know your son and know what will work for him. Here are some things for you to ponder:

1. What kind of classroom setting will work for him? You'll have a choice of entirely special ed, mixed (some percentage) special ed and head start kids or a ''full inclusion'' model where he's the only, or one of the only special ed kids in a room full of regular ed kids.

2. Depending on what kind of classroom placement you get, will he need an aide?

3. What other services does he need? Speech therapy? Does he have sensory issues? Does he have physical issues? If so, should he see the therapist 1:1 or in a group?

4. Do you want a home program in addition to his classroom? Are you doing ABA? Do you have an agency you want to work with?

Lots of questions, I know, but just some things to keep in mind. Jill