Our History

Our History

Over two decades ago, a small group of parents came together to address a shared problem. Their children, severely impacted by autism, displayed various forms of aggression and self-injurious behavior, had minimal or no ability to communicate, and lacked many essential daily living skills. No public classroom setting—not even those designed for students receiving special education services—had the resources or capacity to serve their children. 

Determined to find a solution to meet their children’s highly complex educational needs, these parents banded together. In 1999, after tireless advocacy and research, they formed The Bay School (TBS): a specialized, non-profit, nonpublic school employing the latest applied behavior analysis (ABA) treatment and research findings to produce measurable, lasting improvements in the lives of children with autism. 

Serving its first two students, TBS opened its doors in a small commercial office building in Aptos Village, Calif. TBS grew over subsequent years to serve more students from school districts spanning all over Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, and Monterey counties. The program moved to a downtown Santa Cruz location and later to a large facility in a Live Oak business park in 2003. 

In an effort to build capacity and expand access to services to more individuals in need, TBS partnered with May Institute in 2006. Founded more than 65 years ago, May Institute provides a wide range of exceptional educational and rehabilitative services across the lifespan. The organization is one of the largest and most well-respected providers of services and special education schools for children and adults with autism and other special needs in the U.S. May Institute has evolved into a national network that serves thousands of individuals and their families annually. With corporate headquarters in Randolph, Mass., the organization operates more than 140 service locations across the country.

TBS moved to its current, specially designed 14,440-square-foot facility in Santa Cruz in 2013. Now serving up to 50 students across five classrooms, TBS has become a model nonpublic school providing ABA services and achieving high outcomes for individuals with intensive educational and behavioral needs.