Barstow Unified School District in California Wins National Award for its Use of Online Therapy with Students with Special Needs

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For second consecutive year, district wins PresenceLearning Award of Excellence for outstanding leadership and student progress in special education


“The leaders and staff at these educational organizations, including Barstow Unified School District, have shown remarkable commitment and vision by embracing a new way to serve students with special needs."

PresenceLearning, the leading telehealth network of live, online special education related service providers, recently named Barstow Unified School District in Barstow, CA as a winner of its 4th annual Awards of Excellence. The awards recognized 12 educational organizations nationwide for their outstanding organizational leadership, teamwork, and improved outcomes in helping students with special needs succeed. This is the second consecutive year that the district has won this award.

The district first implemented live, online speech-language therapy using the PresenceLearning network of online providers five years ago to relieve high caseloads and reduce the time its onsite speech-language pathologists (SLPs) spent traveling from school to school. In the initial year, PresenceLearning was successfully used with approximately 15 students with special needs from one elementary school, in addition to one student on home hospital. Today, PresenceLearning is being used with 140 students at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.

“Throughout the years, PresenceLearning has helped an increasing number of our students make great progress on their Individual Education Programs while freeing up valuable time for our onsite SLPs,” said Joni James, Director II of Pupil Services at Barstow Unified School District. “Our longstanding partnership has been such a collaborative, positive experience, and has enabled us to help drive student outcomes and deliver services that we may have otherwise struggled to provide.”

The district plans to further expand its partnership with PresenceLearning during the 2018-19 school year to include online psychoeducational assessments. School psychologists from PresenceLearning will deliver Woodcock-Johnson® IV Cognitive and Achievement batteries created by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to students online using its secure, web-based platform.

“Our school psychologists are currently administering psychoeducational assessments to our students, but it is a very time consuming process,” said James. “PresenceLearning will allow us to more efficiently and effectively deliver these assessments to identify our students’ cognitive strengths and weaknesses.”

The 12 PresenceLearning Awards of Excellence winners were selected based on positive student progress and engagement, strong organizational leadership, informed parental support, and standout partnership and collaboration during the 2016-17 school year. Each winner will receive a plaque and their story will be featured on PresenceLearning’s website.

“The leaders and staff at these educational organizations, including Barstow Unified School District, have shown remarkable commitment and vision by embracing a new way to serve students with special needs,” said Clay Whitehead, CEO and co-founder of PresenceLearning. “Their dedication enables students to make significant progress on their goals in a supportive environment and we are honored to recognize them for their leadership.”

About PresenceLearning
PresenceLearning ( is the leading telehealth network of providers of clinical services and assessments to educational organizations. The PresenceLearning care network has provided over one million sessions of live, online speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, behavioral interventions and mental health services, diagnostic services and assessments, and early childhood services for children with special needs.

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