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San Benito, CA: Special school expands to help "growing number of students"

Aug 14, 2019, Hollister (CA) Benito Link: Chamberlain's opens new classroom Keith Thompson Non-Public School serves students with complex needs. As demand for behavioral health services for youth increases, Chamberlain’s Youth Serviceslooks to close the gap by adding a class to the Keith Thompson Non-Public School. The local nonprofit held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new classroom on Aug. 9. … “Without this facility this means that children would have to travel out of San Benito County in order to get an education,” she said. ... Patrick Ellis, Chamberlain’s executive director, said that a growing number of students have been referred to him for specialized services, and that he has had to redirect them out of the county because Chamberlain’s could accommodate only 12 students. “The traditional school environment, even in their special ed department, sometimes does not have the tools to work with children who have particular needs that a lot of times end up looking like behavioral issues,” Ellis said. Those behaviors include an inability to remain focused in class to the point of becoming disruptive, and students who have difficulty expressing their thoughts in ways that are considered appropriate, Ellis said. When a school district encounters a student whose needs are beyond its capacity, the student is referred to Chamberlain’s, whose goal is to teach the skills required to be successful in a traditional school environment with the help of a mental health clinician and therapeutic services. All students who attend Keith Thompson Non-Public School are referred through the school districts. … Several students from outside San Benito County are referred to Chamberlain’s to receive their education, including those with autism. While Chamberlain’s isn’t equipped to serve students with autism, Ellis said other students would not need to travel out of the county to go to school. … Ellis said most students at Chamberlain’s are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD), a neurodevelopmental disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Children with ADHD have difficulty with focusing, controlling impulsive behaviors, or being overly active while people with PTSD can feel stressed and afraid after a traumatic event. Confining these students in a van for a long period of time and expecting them to be still is asking a lot of them. Commuting out of the county for education also stretches the school day from five or six hours to about nine with travel time. The commute also takes time that could be used for homework, family, or for more behavioral services. … Although Chamberlain’s has seven enrolled students for the new class, Ellis said he expects this to increase when the school year begins and added there are three out-of-county candidates under review. “When the child’s needs are proven to be beyond the capacity of what the school can offer, that’s when we start getting calls,” Ellis said.


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