Special-Needs Schools & Programs In Hawaii

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.


The list below is limited to schools and programs that are education-related. To find more resources for special-needs children in Hawaii:

  • Special Parent Information Network (SPIN) provides info, support, and referrals for parents of special-needs children in Hawaii.
  • Family Programs Hawaii has a searchable database of programs and organizations that can help. (In the “Search by category” drop-down menu, select “Special Needs”.)
  • The Disability & Communication Access Board offers a Key to Resources Serving People With Disabilities in the State of Hawaii.

Preschool & Early-Intervention

  • Hawaii Department of Education’s Preschool Special Education – 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 – 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).
  • Poli’s Place (Kalihi, Honolulu) – Ages birth-3 years. Parent-participation preschool that welcomes all infants and toddlers, including those with special needs. No referral needed.

Autistic

  • Hau’oli Na Keiki School (Ewa Beach, Oahu) – School for autistic children. New students must be referred by Hawaii’s Department of Education.
  • Lanakila Teaching & Learning Centers (Nu’uanu, Honolulu and Wahiawa, Oahu) – Age 18 years and older. Nonprofit program for adults with cognitive, physical, and social challenges. Offers classes and activities in personal development, basic education skills, home management, community development, recreation & leisure, and pre-vocational readiness. No referral necessary.
  • Lanakila Workforce Resources (Nu’uanu, Honolulu) – 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.
  • Loveland Academy (Makiki, Honolulu) – Private school for children and young adults with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. No referral necessary.
  • Mehana School (Kaka’ako, Honolulu) – School for autistic children. New students must be referred by Hawaii’s Department of Education.
  • Pacific Autism Center (Kaka’ako, Honolulu) – Ages birth-13 years. Private school that provides Intensive Behavioral Support services for developmentally delayed infants and toddlers up to age 3 years who are referred by Hawaii’s Department of Health. Also offers a preschool and elementary school program for children ages 3-13 years with autism. No referral needed for children over 3 years old.
  • Variety School (Diamond Head, Honolulu) – 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.

Gifted & Talented

  • 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.
  • Assets School (Hickam/Salt Lake, Honolulu) – Grades K-12. Private school that specializes in teaching gifted and dyslexic students. Annual tuition: $17,450-21,200, depending on the grade level. No referral needed.
  • Hawaii Department of Education’s E-School (statewide)-  Grades 6-12. A supplementary education program that allows high school students (grades 9-12) to earn distance education class credit for taking online classes. Middle school students (grades 6-8) may also take classes, but won’t be guaranteed that their future high school will give them credit for taking the classes. Only public school students may take classes during the regular school year (August-May), but during the summer session, private school students are also allowed to enroll. No referral needed.
  • Hawaii Department of Education’s Learning Centers (statewide) – Grades 9-12. Special-focus programs in select public high schools, such as Communication Arts, World Languages, Marine Science, Engineering & Technology, Music, Performing Arts, and more. If your child has a particular gift or interest in one of these subjects but that particular learning center isn’t located at their home school, consider applying for a Geographic Exception so they can attend a high school that does offer that Learning Center. No referral needed.
  • Running Start (statewide) – Grades 11-12. Allows public high school juniors and seniors to take classes for high school and college credit at the following University of Hawaii campuses (no referral needed):
    • UH Hilo
    • UH West Oahu
    • Hawaii Community College
    • Honolulu Community College
    • Kapiolani Community College
    • Kauai Community College
    • Leeward Community College
    • Maui Community College
    • Windward Community College
  • UH Manoa’s High School/Dual Enrollment Program (Manoa, Honolulu) – Grades 11-12. Allows high school juniors and seniors who’ve completed most of their graduation requirements and have good grades and test scores to take classes at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Participants must be referred by a high school administrator.

Learning Disabled

  • Assets School (Hickam/Salt Lake, Honolulu) – Grades K-12. Private school that specializes in teaching gifted and dyslexic students. Annual tuition: $17,450-21,200, depending on the grade level. No referral needed.
  • Horizons Academy (Haiku, Honolulu) – 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 Teaching & Learning Centers (Nu’uanu, Honolulu and Wahiawa, Oahu) – Age 18 years and older. Nonprofit program for adults with cognitive, physical, and social challenges. Offers classes and activities in personal development, basic education skills, home management, community development, recreation & leisure, and pre-vocational readiness. No referral necessary.
  • Lanakila Workforce Resources (Nu’uanu, Honolulu) – 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.
  • Loveland Academy (Makiki, Honolulu) – Private school for children and young adults with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. No referral necessary.
  • Variety School (Diamond Head, Honolulu) – 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.

At-Risk

  • 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.
  • Clinical Competency Based High School Diploma Program (C-BASE) (Kalihi, Honolulu) – An alternative education program for high school dropouts and at-risk students whose needs aren’t being met in a traditional school environment. Participants are given their high school diploma upon completing the program, which takes a therapeutic approach and includes group counseling. No referral necessary.
  • Hale O Ulu (Ewa Beach, Oahu) – Grades 7-12. Alternative school for at-risk youth. Integrates clinical counseling with its education program. New students must be referred by Hawaii’s Department of Education or Family Court.
  • Hawaii Job Corps (Waimanalo, Oahu) and Maui Job Corps (Makawao, Maui) – Ages 16-24. Offers free educational programs for low-income youth, including a GED/high school diploma program, basic math and reading classes, and training in independent living, social skills, and employability skills. Also offers vocational training in automotive repair, business technology, culinary arts, facilities maintenance, health occupations, certified nursing assistant, horticulture worker, and painting. Free housing, meals, medical care, and child care provided. Administered by the U.S. Department of Labor. No referral necessary.
  • Hawaii Youth ChalleNGe Academy (Kapolei, Oahu) – Ages 16-19 years. To be eligible for this program, students must be a U.S. citizen and a high-school dropout, or at risk of dropping out. After completing the 22-week residential program, graduates earn their high school diploma. Run by the National Guard, but no military service is required after completing the program. No referral necessary.
  • Honolulu Community Action Program (HCAP) Youth Services (Kaka’ako, Honolulu) – Ages 14-21 years. Offers classes to low-income, at-risk youth so that they can earn their high school equivalency diploma. Particpants must meet income eligibility requirements. No referral necessary.
  • Hui Malama Learning Center (Wailuku, Maui) – Grades 6 and up. Offers GED prep classes for students age 16 and up, as well as a middle school (grades 6-8) and high school (grades 9-12) program for students whose needs aren’t being met in a traditional school setting. No referral necessary.
  • Newman Consulting Services (Ala Moana, Honolulu) – Age 18 years and older. Offers a 220-hour Career Education Business Program that includes courses in Business Communications, Customer Service, Decision Making & Problem Solving, Time Management, Keyboarding, Accounting, and Microsoft Office. No high school diploma or GED is required to enroll. Licensed by Hawaii’s Department of Education. No referral necessary.

Other Special Needs

  • Hawaii School For The Deaf & The Blind (Waikiki-Kapahulu, Honolulu) – 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.
  • Jefferson School Orthopedic Unit (Waikiki-Kapahulu, Honolulu) – Grades PreK-5. Located on the campus of Jefferson Elementary School, a public school New students must be referred by Hawaii’s Department of Education.
  • Kula Kokua Intensive Learning Center (Kaimuki-Diamond Head, Honolulu) – Ages 3-8. Day school for special-needs students with severe emotional and behavioral problems. Christian-affiliated. Run by the Salvation Army. New students must be referred by Hawaii’s Department of Education.
  • Lanakila Teaching & Learning Centers (Nu’uanu, Honolulu and Wahiawa, Oahu) – Age 18 years and older. Nonprofit program for adults with cognitive, physical, and social challenges. Offers classes and activities in personal development, basic education skills, home management, community development, recreation & leisure, and pre-vocational readiness. No referral necessary.
  • Lanakila Workforce Resources (Nu’uanu, Honolulu) – 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.
  • Newman Consulting Services (Ala Moana, Honolulu) – Age 18 years and older. Offers a 220-hour Career Education Business Program that includes courses in Business Communications, Customer Service, Decision Making & Problem Solving, Time Management, Keyboarding, Accounting, and Microsoft Office. No high school diploma or GED is required to enroll. Services are available for deaf students. Licensed by Hawaii’s Department of Education. No referral necessary.