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Special Needs


A Warm Thank You to Our Winter Wonderland Dance Sponsors!

California High PTSA Hosts Students with Special Needs for “Winter Wonderland” Dance

The California High Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) hosted students with special needs from around the Tri-Valley for a “Winter Wonderland” Dance on Friday, December 2nd, from 10:00am to 12:00 noon at the California High School Event Center.  Guests included students with moderate to intensive special needs from high schools in the San Ramon, Dublin and Pleasanton school districts.  Nearly 250 students, accompanied by approximately 125 special education teachers, para-educators, aides and parents, enjoyed music, dancing, activities, food and friendship.


Recognizing that students with special needs are not always comfortable at other dances, the California High PTSA customized this dance with specific song choices, lower sound levels, appropriate lighting, developmentally appropriate activities, dietary specific refreshments and a “quiet zone” where students could take a break from the festivities.  A committee of PTSA leaders, parents and educators collaborated for a year to produce this meaningful and successful event.  Volunteers also included California High School Leadership students who facilitated activities such as “Search the Snow”, a tactile experience where students explored a bin of “snow” (uncooked rice) searching for treasures.  Prior to the dance, Cal High Special Education teacher Christine Niemoeller and her teaching assistants coached Leadership students on how to effectively interact with and assist students with special needs.  Additional student volunteers included Cal High art students who did face painting at the dance, and Cal High dance students who led group dances.  Also on hand were San Ramon Mayor Bill Clarkson and officers from the San Ramon Police Department who greeted the students with badge stickers.


California High School Principal Sarah Cranford shared, “Cal High was lucky to have the opportunity to provide this event for students throughout the tri-valley.  The smiles on the kids’ faces were contagious.  It is a great reminder that our students with special needs often impact and teach us more than we teach them.”  California High PTSA President Vanessa Berastain added, One of the goals of the California High PTSA is to support a welcoming and inclusive school community. The Winter Wonderland dance was planned with this in mind, because when a community comes together with dedication and love, beautiful things happen.”  Cal High parent Amanda Sinclair, whose 9th grade son Ricky Perez is in Mrs. Niemoeller’s class, stated, “It was truly a unique opportunity for both the students with special needs and their general education counterparts to come together and celebrate.  I am so touched by the effort, enthusiasm, and fun had by all. The strength of the Cal High community was really reflected in its diversity and acceptance.  I really can’t say who had more fun, the invitees or the student volunteers.”

PTSA Special Needs Committee

PTA Special Needs Committee


Who We Are

The PTA Special Needs Committee fosters collaboration among parents, teachers, schools, and the community to support children with special needs.  Many schools have a Special Needs Committee Representative on their local PTA who represents the school on our council committee, provides information back to the school, and may plan programs or get-acquainted gatherings for the school site.  Your California High School Special Needs Committee Representative is:  Lori Woodard (

What We Do

  • Provide information and support to parents and staff so they can help children with special needs succeed.
  • Help ALL children and adults understand and appreciate challenges faced by children with special needs.
  • Work legislatively to secure and retain adequate laws and funding for children with special needs.

As part of our educational outreach, we are planning a valuable array of programs to provide support for parents and educators of children with special needs for the 2017-2018 school year, including:

  1. Evening Programs:  Several evening programs will be offered throughout the year, on various topics related to children and youth with special needs.
  2. Annual Parenting Conference:  We will arrange a variety of breakout sessions for the annual Parenting Conference in late February/early March of 2016.  Please look for conference information later in the fall.
  3. Ability Awareness: We will provide and support ability awareness workshops and simulations to students, parents and staff.


Join Our e-mail Distribution List

We e-mail information about our upcoming programs, as well as other local programs of interest to the community, through the SRV Council Special Needs Constant Contact list.Please go to and click on the Join Email List button to receive the monthly council newsletter which always includes a Special Needs article. Also, during school registration, please select “Special Needs” on your interest form and you will receive information about campus events throughout the year.The Special Needs Committee also maintains a web site.Go to site includes information about our events as well as events and resources from other organizations dedicated to special needs issues in our community. To receive the quarterly Special Needs newsletter, please click on the Join Email List on this webpage.



For the most current information about programs, events and resources shared by the Special Needs Committee of the San Ramon Valley Council of PTAs, go to

Upcoming Special Needs Programs

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