Special-Needs Schools & Programs In Hawaii

Posted Nov 1, 2011 at 5:05pm

If you have a child with with special needs, there are some schools and educational programs in Hawaii that you should know about for children with disabilities, emotional/behavioral problems, and specific learning needs.

Some of these schools and programs are run by private organizations and charge tuition. Others are funded through various state and nonprofit agencies, and  require a referral to attend. If you think your child could benefit from one of the schools or programs listed below that requires a referral, contact your local public school so your child can be evaluated for a possible referral.

Smiling students surround a model-boat class project.

Students at Variety School of Hawaii, a private school for children with high-functioning autism, ADD, ADHD, and developmental delays. (Photo credit: Variety School of Hawaii)

Here is a sampling of different types of special-needs schools and programs in Hawaii:

  • Hawaii Department of Education’s Preschool Special Education (Statewide) – Ages 3-5 years. State-funded preschool for children with disabilities. For more info or to enroll, contact Hawaii Keiki Information Service System (H-KISS).
  • Hawaii Department of Health’s Early-Intervention Services (Statewide) – Ages birth-3 years. For children with developmental delays or special health needs. For more info or to enroll, contact Hawaii Keiki Information Service System (H-KISS).
  • Variety School (Honolulu, Oahu) – Ages 5-13 years. Private school that specializes in teaching students with learning disabilities, high-functioning autism, and attention deficit disorder. Annual tuition: $14,500-24,600, depending on services provided. No referral needed.
  • American Renaissance Academy (Kapolei, Oahu) – Grades PreK-12 (starting at age 3 years). Private college-prep school for gifted students with an extended school day (8:30am-4:30pm) and after-school classes offered until 6:45pm. Students in grades 11-12 may enroll in the school’s College Program to earn college credit through “a prestigious private university.” Last year, American Renaissance Academy launched its School For the Performing Arts program. Tuition: $12,000 for PreK students, $11,500 for grades K-5, and $12,200 for grades 6-12. No referral needed.
  • Horizons Academy (Haiku, Maui) – Grades K-12 (up to age 20 years). Private school that specializes in teaching special-needs children with learning and physical disabilities. Note: Although this school has a good reputation, it is not accredited. If your child is in grades 7-12, attending an unaccredited school may make it more difficult for them to be accepted into some colleges and universities. Annual tuition: $14,500-15,385, depending on the grade level. No referral needed.
  • Lanakila Workforce Resources (Honolulu, Oahu) – Age 18 years and older. Offers job training to adults “with cognitive, physical, social or age-related challenges.” Training programs include cashiering, clerical work, custodial service, food service & bottling, grounds maintenance, imprinting,  production/assembly, and silk screening/embroidery. Licensed by Hawaii’s Department of Education. No referral necessary.
  • Adult Education Schools Diploma Program (Oahu, Big Island, Maui, Kauai) – Ages 16 years and up. Offers classes for earning a high school diploma outside of the traditional high school environment. No referral necessary.
  • Hawaii School For The Deaf & The Blind (Honolulu, Oahu) – Ages 3-20. Public school for deaf, hard-of-hearing, blind, and partially sighted students. Bilingual English-American Sign Language immersion program. Free weekday boarding and weekend interisland flights available for students from neighbor islands. New students must be referred by Hawaii’s Department of Education.