Special Education Programs

  • Special education programs and services in Brookline are designed to meet the specific needs of students with disabilities in the least restrictive setting.  Brookline offers several programs to meet the needs of students with disabilities which are described below.  Related services are also provided and are listed following the program descriptions.  The professional staff that delivers special education services are certified and trained to work with a wide range of students with specific disabilities.  When the nature and/or severity of the student’s disability is such that a less restrictive environment with the use of supplementary aides and services would not meet the student’s needs consideration is given to district-wide programs and then to collaborative and out-of-district placements.

    Through the IEP TEAM process, students can receive services in any composite program designed individually and drawing from our comprehensive resources.


    Inclusive School Based Programs service children with mild, moderate and intensive disabilities.  Program sites for integrated preschool classes are at each elementary school, the high school and the Lynch Center.

    Driscoll Preschool and the Driscoll Pre-K1 serve students with intensive disabilities and students who are medically fragile. The Lynch Center preschool programs service students with pervasive developmental disorders and autism.

    Options for half day, full day and combined integrated and substantially separate programs are possible dependent on identified student need.


    Learning Centers are available in all elementary schools and the high school.  The Learning Centers are designed to provide a range of services to students with varied mild to moderate disabilities.  Learning Centers focus on assisting students in meeting the curricular demands of each grade.  In addition, specific services include but are not limited to direct instruction in reading, mathematics and written language. Learning Centers provide students with academic support and assistance in developing organizational skills, executive function skills and study skills.   Small group instruction and individualized instruction are used to assist students in achieving individual student IEP goals.   Learning Center special education teachers consult to general education staff members and to the parents as needed.  Learning Center teachers also assist in the development and implementation of appropriate modifications and accommodations.  Learning Centers provide students and teachers with a level of understanding for each student's disability(ies) and areas of strength as well as self-advocacy skills appropriate to the grade level of the student.

    In addition, Learning Centers servicing students age 14 and older, assist students with transition planning and post-secondary planning.  This may include some or all of the following:  college preparatory support, exposure to services at the college level, development of individual transition plans, exploration of post-secondary employment options, and indentification of areas of continued learning needed to enhance job skills and exposure to adult service agencies.

    Learning Center - key points

    • Assists students in meeting curricular demands
    • Direct instruction
    • Academic support
    • Organizational skill development
    • Classroom accommodation and modification support
    • Study skill development
    • Executive function skill(s) development
    • Instruction and assistance in use and application of assistive technology
    • Disability awareness, ability awareness and development of self-advocacy skills 




    System-wide programs exist in Brookline to provide students with intensive disabilities a higher level of individualization and support as well as structured, separate environments when deemed necessary by a student’s IEP team.

    Adaptive Learning Center ProgramLincoln School
    This program services students with severe/profound disabilities (academic skills significantly below grade level).   Some students have medically complex profiles.   The Adaptive Learning Center (ALC) serves high school students in grades K-8 who have a wide range of disabilities including developmental, physical and cognitive disabilities.

    Language & Academic Home Base (LAHB) - Driscoll School
    This program serves students of average or above average cognitive abilities for whom learning is challenging due to specific learning disabilities in one or more of the basic perceptual processes involved in understanding or using written or spoken language.  These disabilities may manifest themselves in problems of listening, thinking, speaking, reading, writing, spelling and/or performing mathematical calculations. Instruction is provided in small groups.  Students receive remediation in their weaker skills and are taught compensatory strategies that draw on their stronger learning areas.  Students may be in general education classes and are provided additional support, when deemed necessary.  Speech and language services are integral to this program.  Consultation is provided to general education staff members

    Reaching for Independence Through Structured Education (RISE) - Runkle School
    A team approach to servie delivery is utilized for students with autism spectrum disorder.  The RISE Program provides academic instruction, social skills training, behavioral intervention and related services.  Teaching approaches include:  incidental and naturalistic instruction, applied behavior analysis, discrete trial training, TEACCH, visual supports, total communication approaches, structured classroom environments.

    Therapeutic Learning Center (TLC)Devotion School
    The TLC is a special education and supportive service based program for students with a history of emotional disabilities which impact their learning. The TLC provides the following as deemed necessary by each individual student’s IEP; direct instruction in a separate setting, support in general education, adaptations of the educational environment, positive behavior intervention plans, instruction in relaxation techniques and counseling.


    Located at Brookline High School   

    Brookline High School Special Education Page

    The Bridge Program teaches skills to promote independence in the home, community, and work place.  It services students who have completed grades 9-12.  Instruction and skill application may take place in the classroom, community and at various work sites.  Students can receive individualized instruction and job support, as needed.  This program services students ages 18-22 with developmental disabilities.

    Community Based Classroom
    The Community Based Classroom (CBC) serves high school students in grades 9-postgrad who have a wide range of disabilities including developmental, physical and cognitive disabilities.   The goal of classroom instruction is to teach functional academics that can be used in real life situations.  Each student will receive the appropriate amount of 1:1 instruction throughout the day to optimize learning.

    ExCEL Program
    The ExCEL program is a substantially separate therapeutic learning environment where community building and self-discovery are emphasized in order to improve student academic behavior and performance.  Students will be active participants as they learn the skills needed to be successful in both academic and social settings.  The ExCEL program is designed for students who benefit from daily structure, clear behavioral expectations, consistency and a smaller community.

    Language & Academic Home Base (LAHB) 
    LAHB supports offer students access to the general curriculum with additional intensive interventions in reading and writing.  Students also access a specialized, language-based learning center.  LAHB students exhibit language-based challenges but demonstrate average to above average cognitive abilities; those who are self-motivated and independent benefit most from this model.

    Pathways Program
    Pathways to Social Communication, Integration and Inclusion is a program that provides a continuum of services to students who benefit from instruction in social communication, self-regulation, navigating the social world and managing the multiple academic and personal demands high school students face. The goal of this program is to help students become socially competent and successful learners who are engaged in the larger community.

    RISE Program (Reaching for Independence Through Structured Education)
    The RISE Program primarily serves students with diagnosed Austism Spectrum Disorders, who may require intensive, individualized instruction and support.  It functions as a home base for students and some students in the program participate in the full range of BHS course offerings; highly individualized discrete trial teaching is also available as is instruction in functional academics.   Integrated programming includes social learning instruction, communication services, organizational support, BCBA services and daily living skill instruction.

    Transition Services
    Transition Services are designed to help young adults with disabilities obtain and maintain employment by facilitating career exploration activities (i.e.  informational interviews, job shadowing opportunities and/or internships), identifying skills and interests, developing a range of career options, and ultimately securing employment in the community.

    Winthrop House
    Winthrop House, an off-site component of Brookline High School, provides a therapeutic Special Education alternative for students whose social and/or emotional problems has hindered success in a traditional setting.  The goal of Winthrop House is to break the cycle of difficulties some adolescents experience in school.  With its low student-teacher ratio, the program provides students individual support in an emotionally and physically safe environment, helping students build self-esteem, work toward academic potential, and experience positive peer interactions.