School that Mom Built: The Power of One
A MOTHERS DREAM: Tobinworld is a non-profit school for
children and young adults ages 5 to 22 with behavior problems.
Students are classified as severely emotionally disabled, autistic
or developmentally disabled. The program combines special education
with behavioral psychology. Medication is not used for behavior
problems. Tobinworld is not a residential school. Children ride
buses to and from their homes. Special education instructors teach
self-sufficiency skills such as money management, personal
maintenance, personal safety, academics, and vocational education.
The school's goal is to return students to public school or to the
work place. Students who pass proficiency tests receive high school
diplomas from their school districts.
MAKING IT HAPPEN: Judy Weber's plan began when she
couldn't find a school for her autistic son. Her only option was a
state hospital. She joined a committee of the Los Angeles Public
School District and soon parents of special education kids came
forward begging her to start a program. She went to friends first
asking for help. They started an organization called Toby's Friends.
It took two years, but with benefit dinners and donations, her
friends raised $50,000 for startup costs. Next, she stormed the
state capitol, pounding on the doors of state legislators. After
pleading her case all the way to the Governor's office, legislation
was finally passed that would fund her project. Today, Tobinworld
receives $25,000 per student per year. The funding is paid by the
school districts. The districts receive state and federal money. The
students' families pay nothing. Judy Weber is now executive director
of her school, a $7.5 million nonprofit organization.
FINDING A GOOD SCHOOL: Judy says parents must be their
child's biggest advocate and fight hard to find the program he/she
needs. She says talk to your local school district or other parents.
Laws guarantee a free appropriate education for all handicapped
children. When choosing a program, ask the right questions:
- Is it licensed by the state?
- Are teachers certified in special education?
- What's the ratio of staff to students? One-to-One is best.
- Is the school clean?
- Is behavioral psychology used?
- Do the children seem happy?
If you would like more information, please contact:
- Judy Weber, Executive Director
- 920 East Broadway
- Glendale, CA 91205-1291
- (818) 247-7474
Copyright 2001 Ivanhoe Broadcast News, Inc.