Credit: Jane Meredith Adams/EdSource Today
The Tobinworld II special education school on Country Hills Drive in Antioch.

An Antioch special education school is closing after the Oakland Unified and Antioch Unified school districts removed students and withdrew funding for the school.

The districts’ actions came in the aftermath of investigations by state and law enforcement agencies into several allegations against Tobinworld II, a nonprofit special education school that serves students ages 5 to 22 with autism, emotional disturbances, developmental disabilities and learning disabilities. The charges included the possible physical abuse of a student and concerns over instructors’ credentials.

Tobinworld also operates a school in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale.

In a letter to parents this week, Tobinworld’s founder and executive director, Judy Weber, told parents of students at Tobinworld II that the loss of funding “has made it impossible for Tobinworld II to continue to operate in Antioch.”

The letter blamed “an unfortunate series of events, sparked originally by a set of false and misleading media attacks against Tobinworld II,” for the decision to cease operations on July 26.

A message left for Weber at the Glendale school, Tobinworld’s headquarters, was not immediately returned. 

Weber said in the letter that Antioch Unified removed 44 students in recent weeks and Oakland Unified removed eight.

Oakland Unified said in a statement, “We cannot provide specific details about the OUSD students who have been removed nor comment on next steps for them, but we are committed to ensuring that all OUSD students receive a quality education in a safe environment.”

Antioch Unified did not respond to a message seeking to confirm the accuracy of Weber’s letter.

Problems for Tobinworld II began several years ago.

Responding to a citizen’s complaint in October 2014, the California Department of Education, which oversees private special education schools that receive public funding, suspended certification for Tobinworld II in August 2015, citing several violations, including the charge that Matthew Israel, Weber’s husband, had not been listed on state certification forms, as required by the California Education Code. The violations were rectified and certifications for the schools were approved in December.

A few weeks later, a video appeared online, showing a teacher’s aide slapping the face of a 9-year-old boy in special education. On Jan. 15, three legal advocacy groups – the American Civil Liberties Union, Disability Rights California and the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund – issued a demand letter to the California Department of Education calling on the state to take action to eliminate the improper use of force on students with disabilities in classrooms across the state.

The department responded in March with a letter stating that it had investigated complaints and corrective actions had been taken.

The Bureau of Children’s Justice, a branch of the California Attorney General’s office, also listed Tobinworld in at least one subpoena seeking information bearing on “their treatment of students with disabilities.”

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  1. Wolfie 1 year ago1 year ago

    This place, was horrible. I ended up going to Tobin, because I had an abusive family, all my childhood, and my Mom sent me there, because she did not want to deal with me. I was so out of place, and seeing the things going on in there, were borderline criminal. How they got away, with power tripping, and physically abusing kids, is beyond me. I am glad it was shut down, and I hope … Read More

    This place, was horrible. I ended up going to Tobin, because I had an abusive family, all my childhood, and my Mom sent me there, because she did not want to deal with me. I was so out of place, and seeing the things going on in there, were borderline criminal. How they got away, with power tripping, and physically abusing kids, is beyond me. I am glad it was shut down, and I hope all places like it are.

    The way they dealt with getting accusations, was just by saying it is a school for crazy kids, so of course the kids would lie about what happened. Being there, I have seen staff hit, with a closed fist, students, and then detain them, so they could use it as an excuse. The first time I was ever detained there, was because at the start of class, they give everyone breakfast, and I was new, so I thought ok, I can eat it, so the staff ripped it from my hands, threw it in the trash, and sat on me, on my desk, for “eating before I was allowed to.”

    I have seen a student act up, and push their desk away, which caused the staff to grab them, pull them out of their seat and smash their face on the desk they pushed away to the point where this grown adult was crying from how bad they just got their face smashed in, all for pushing a desk, a foot away. I have hundreds of crazy stories from this place, I really really, hope it is closed forever, and the teachers/staff there are investigated for everything they have done.