Over 10 years ago, Piedmont Unified Schools adopted a philosophy of inclusion for all special needs students. It’s our goal to include special needs students in general education as much as possible. While it depends on the individual student, the inclusion program is one of the most powerful ways to support kids who are in special education. None of our students spend their entire day in a special education classroom. If we do have a child who needs constant assistance, we partner with schools in the Berkeley, Emeryville, Alameda and Albany school districts to provide the necessary help.beach website-2

Fourteen percent of the Piedmont Unified student population benefits from the Special Education program. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004 established 14 disability categories. From pre-k to 12th grade, Piedmont schools offer a wide range of help for all 14 categories, from attention deficit disorder to autism, orthopedically handicapped to deaf and visually impaired children.

If a child is not achieving at an appropriate academic level, interventions are mandated by the state of California. Our first approach is to employ strategies in the classroom. If these don’t work, we provide increasing support. Beach Elementary has a wonderful resource specialist that provides those students who are struggling with the support they need. In addition, our district has many specialists at the ready, including speech pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and resource specialists for grades K-12. We also have an adaptive Physical Education program.

We also have an inclusion specialist that ensures children with special needs are reaching their academic goals and making the most of their time in the classroom. This instructor also provides reading and math resources for those who need assistance. Sometimes, kids need a temporary boost in a particular subject. We make sure they’re given extra help so that they can stay on track.

In grades 3-5, our special education center is called “Home Base.” This terminology is used through middle school and high school, to help students feel at home in each new setting.