The School that Mom Built: The Power of One
Smart Move

A MOTHERS DREAM: Tobinworld is a non-profit school for children and young adults ages 5 to 22 with behavior problems. Students are classified as severely emotionally disabled, autistic or developmentally disabled. The program combines special education with behavioral psychology. Medication is not used for behavior problems. Tobinworld is not a residential school. Children ride buses to and from their homes. Special education instructors teach self-sufficiency skills such as money management, personal maintenance, personal safety, academics, and vocational education. The school's goal is to return students to public school or to the work place. Students who pass proficiency tests receive high school diplomas from their school districts.

MAKING IT HAPPEN: Judy Weber's plan began when she couldn't find a school for her autistic son. Her only option was a state hospital. She joined a committee of the Los Angeles Public School District and soon parents of special education kids came forward begging her to start a program. She went to friends first asking for help. They started an organization called Toby's Friends. It took two years, but with benefit dinners and donations, her friends raised $50,000 for startup costs. Next, she stormed the state capitol, pounding on the doors of state legislators. After pleading her case all the way to the Governor's office, legislation was finally passed that would fund her project. Today, Tobinworld receives $25,000 per student per year. The funding is paid by the school districts. The districts receive state and federal money. The students' families pay nothing. Judy Weber is now executive director of her school, a $7.5 million nonprofit organization.

FINDING A GOOD SCHOOL: Judy says parents must be their child's biggest advocate and fight hard to find the program he/she needs. She says talk to your local school district or other parents. Laws guarantee a free appropriate education for all handicapped children. When choosing a program, ask the right questions:

  • Is it licensed by the state?
  • Are teachers certified in special education?
  • What's the ratio of staff to students? One-to-One is best.
  • Is the school clean?
  • Is behavioral psychology used?
  • Do the children seem happy?

If you would like more information, please contact:

Judy Weber, Executive Director
920 East Broadway
Glendale, CA 91205-1291
(818) 247-7474

Copyright 2001 Ivanhoe Broadcast News, Inc.