Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) provides support to all students with disabilities. We partner with Los Altos, Mountain View, Whisman, and Mountain View/Los Altos School Districts as well as the Santa Clara County Office of Education (COE) to insure that programs are located within our Special Education Local Planning Area (SELPA).

If you have questions about the PAUSD Special Education programs or would like to request a review for assessment, contact Special Education at (650) 833-4257 or

Eligibility for Services

Students become eligible for special education services through a formalized process of evaluation. Anyone who suspects that a student is disabled may request an evaluation in writing. Requests will receive a response within 15 days. Usually a Student Study Team is asked to determine whether an assessment is necessary. If recommended, assessments will take place within 60 days of the initial request. If an assessment is not recommended, the Study Team will explain their reasoning in writing. 

Once a student has been assessed, an Individualized Education Program (IEP)meeting is held to determine a student's eligibility for services. Students may be found eligible in one of 13 categories:

  • Learning disabilities
  • Speech and language impairment
  • Deaf/blind
  • Visual impairment
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Hearing impairment
  • Deafness
  • Other health impairment
  • Autism
  • Multiple handicaps
  • Orthopedic impairment
  • Emotional disturbance
  • Intellectual Disability


Students may receive any combination of services, based on their IEP, including:

  • Speech and Language—offered at all schools. 

    Speech and language specialists provide support for articulation, voice, fluency, and language disorders.
  • Resource Specialists—offered at all schools.

    Resource Specialists provide educational planning, special instruction, tutorial assistance, or other services to exceptional individuals in special programs or regular classrooms.
  • Specialized Academic Instruction Classes—offered at selected elementary schools and all secondary schools.

    Students are grouped with others who share similar instructional needs. Each class has a credentialed special education teacher and an instructional aide. Special Day Classes are available at all secondary schools and the following elementary schools: Escondido, Fairmeadow, Juana Briones, Nixon, Ohlone,Barron Park and Walter Hays.
  • Adaptive physical education, nursing services, counseling support, behavior support, occupational therapy, and other services are available when a student's IEP determines this need.

Transition to Independent Living

Several of our programs assist students with special needs to transition to the workplace, independent living, and post secondary education or training.

  • Transition Partnership Program (TPP) 

    PAUSD connects high school students with disabilities to the State of California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) and assists with their transition to work.
  • WorkAbility I 

    WorkAbility I programs provide comprehensive pre-employment training, employment placement, and follow-up consultations for individuals making the transition to independent living.
  • Career Training for Transition 

    An ROP class for high school students with special needs who would like self-paced training for entry-level employment positions.

Post-Senior Programs

  • Foothill Transition Program (FTP) 

    FTP involves students with disabilities who have completed high school in an active college atmosphere and prepares them for independent living.