Our Students

Timothy Murphy School proudly serves special education students in grades 1 through 12. We are a boys-only school with separate classrooms for our elementary, middle school, and high school students. Many of our students are residents of the St. Vincent’s treatment home for boys, with whom we have enjoyed a long partnership since our founding. We also accept day program students from San Francisco and school districts in Marin County and the wider North/East Bay area.

TMS students

In general, our students are placed due to significant behavioral struggles that prevent them from accessing their education in a mainstream academic environment. This includes problems with achieving academic progress, complying with school rules and expectations, and developing healthy, trusting relationships with peers and adults. Common domains of behavioral problems include:

  • Marked impulsivity (e.g. cannot sit still; cannot resist temptations)
  • Impaired emotional self-regulation (e.g. mood swings; quick to anger or tears)
  • Aggressive or provocative towards others (e.g. picks fights, bullies others, or lashes out)
  • Exaggerated sensitivity to perceived danger (e.g. becomes frightened or startled easily)
  • Distorted or confused interpretations of social signals (e.g. misunderstands others; is easily insulted or aggrieved)
  • Profoundly negative beliefs about the self and others (e.g. negative self esteem; assumes others are always untrustworthy or dangerous)
  • Difficulty coping with limits, disappointments, or transitions (e.g. becomes defiant or oppositional when faced with a non-preferred task or activity)

A Focus on Foster Children and Early Trauma

Because of our partnership with St. Vincent’s, a majority of our students over the years have been involved in the foster care system. For this reason, we have developed expertise in helping students whose behaviors stem from the experience of early childhood trauma and/or family disruption, such as divorce, the loss of a parent, or being removed from the home due to abuse or neglect. This is why the TMS program includes an emphasis on emotional well-being, social skills building, and behavior management. You can find out more in our mental health section.

Referral for Placement at TMS

Timothy Murphy School does not accept private students. All of our students are referred to us through the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process, which is the process that determines special education services. In other words, enrollment at TMS requires an offer of placement from the student’s home district. Generally, a district will present TMS with an informal referral before the IEP so we can determine goodness of fit. If the school, district, and guardian or ed rights holder all agree that TMS is the right placement, then a formal offer is made and the student can become enrolled.

Although placement must happen through the IEP process, we encourage parents or guardians who are curious about Timothy Murphy School to contact us or to make an appointment to visit. We would be happy to discuss your child’s situation and answer any questions you might have.

If you are a representative of a school district or SELPA and would like to refer a student to TMS, please begin with our New Student Referral form.

Find out more about Timothy Murphy School