Port of Los Angeles High School

Port of Los Angeles High School (POLAHS) received a $20,000 grant from The Crail Johnson Foundation last month - an award that will directly benefit the nearly 10% of POLAHS’ population that is identified as intellectually or developmentally disabled. The Port of Los Angeles High School (POLAHS) is a not-for-profit, tuition-free charter high school open to all residents of California.

The POLAHS Special Education department provides the physical environment, curriculum, staff, and services that maximize every student’s highest level of personal capability and allows them to successfully transition from high school to adulthood. The majority of our special needs students and their families do not have the personal resources to participate in programs and services beyond what is deemed necessary by the State. POLAHS fills in the gap, allocating roughly 150% of state and federal funding received for Special Education toward the department.

All special needs students are fully integrated into POLAHS’ general education curriculum and receive accommodations most appropriate for their individual needs. Students benefit from early assessment and intervention; small class sizes; a support team of high qualified Resources Specialists (3), a Special Education Coordinator, and a full-time Psychologist; and the Department’s frequent communication with parents. Last summer POLAHS built a customized classroom for Special Education; a 1,200-square-foot space dedicated for services including speech therapy, life skills, evaluations, and parent-teacher meetings.

In June, the POLAHS Resource Specialists will attend their third professional development conference of the year. They learn about the latest in special education law and find resources available on college campuses for students pursuing extended education. All of the “extras” are paying off.

Ninety-eight percent of POLAHS’ special needs students graduate in four years (versus five years or more at other schools), and nearly all of those students exceed state graduation requirements. Perhaps even more remarkable are the personal changes, those that can’t be measured by standard assessment. “Our students feel safe here, they develop great friendships and succeed in general ed classes with their peers. I am so grateful for The Crail Johnson Foundation’s support and recognition of our program,” says Special Education Coordinator Joni Narasaki.