Van Ness Elementary School is a community-based public elementary school within the Los Angeles Unified School District that provides a free and public education to neighborhood children in Kindergarten through 5th grade. The campus also provides early infant, preschool and integrated elementary educational services for students who are visually impaired. In addition, a Preschool for All Learners (PALS) classroom was opened in Fall of 2017.
For most of their history, Van Ness Elementary and Frances Blend School for the Visually Impaired were connected by a corridor but were separate schools. Van Ness Elementary was established almost 101 years ago as a traditional public elementary school serving its local community. Frances Blend opened in 1926. Its founder (by the same name) searched throughout the community to recruit students because at the time, it was common practice to refuse educational services to students with disabilities.
With a focus on integration and inclusion, the two schools merged in 2013. Specialized instruction continues for students with visual impairments but all children are integrated for a variety of activities, including gardening, dance, art, music and science, as well as school field trips and community performances.
The Van Ness Elementary community is made up of families in the surrounding area of Hollywood and Korea Town, while visually-impaired (VI) students come via bus from all over the greater Los Angeles area. Our visually impaired population makes up 20% of our students. The ethnic makeup of our overall school population is 71% Hispanic, 11% Asian, 7% African American, 7% Caucasian and 4% who declined to state. The majority of our students come from economically disadvantaged households and all students receive a free breakfast and lunch.
We promote a sense of community and family within our school and have programs that support academics and the arts, while fostering inclusion and integration. Our integrated programs include adapted physical education, dance, orchestra, gardening, tactile/visual arts (supported by parent volunteer), computer and assistive technology instruction, coding, and specialized science instruction. We also provide a free afterschool program for all community students that includes academic tutoring.