The Kessler Center

A Service of Easterseals New York


The Kessler Center, located in Rochester, NY, is an approved private special education (853) school offering both residential (CRP) and day placements for students with developmental disabilities. The Kessler Center is an available option for school districts seeking an out-of-district placement for students who need an alternative educational path due to their developmental disabilities. The Kessler Center has broad expertise working with students across the entire range of developmental disabilities, including Autism Spectrum Disorders, as well as with children who struggle with behavioral challenges.

The school program is licensed by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) and the residential program is licensed through the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). The program is open to students throughout New York State who need a highly individualized special education program and meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Are between the ages of 5 and 21
  • Have a documented developmental disability
  • Are on the New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA) pathway
  • Have been unsuccessfully served by in-district or BOCES program(s)
  • Are eligible for OPWDD services (for students who are seeking admission into the joint education-residential program only)

7 classrooms at The Kessler Center are 6:1:3 (maximum of six students, 1 teacher, 3 teacher’s assistants).  The 8th classroom is 8:1:3 and collaborates with the Golisano Autism Center through our new THRIVE@ESNY Program (for students of at least high school age who have demonstrated mastery of skillsets on the main Kessler Center who will have the opportunity to apply and practice these skills for a portion of their school day at the Golisano Center, a setting that is specially designed to ensure student safety and sensory well-being).  

Additionally, The Kessler Center provides all related services indicated on the students’ Individualized Education Program and has a large clinical and behavioral support staff. The program stresses experiential learning, community integration, functional academics, daily life skills, and personal independence and utilizes a strengths-based and person-centered approach. While some physical interventions may be part of a student’s behavior support plan, these interventions are utilized only as the last step of the proactive Strategies for Crisis Intervention and Prevention gradient during times of behavioral crisis to protect life and limb.

In addition to academic and life-skills work in the classroom, each school day is filled with numerous field trips, projects, special classes (physical education, music, art, technology, vocational programs, and electives), and fun experiences. The Kessler Center strives to provide students with the same opportunities as any other child, modified to support their success and growth. The Kessler Center has hosted school dances, family fun days, assemblies, sports events, costume parties, and so much more to provide these universal childhood experiences to the students.  Students at The Kessler Center come from homes throughout New York State. The school offers a blend of day placements and residential placements. The school day is identical for both and is based on a district referral.

The residential program at The Kessler Center is comprised of Intermediate Care Facility homes licensed as Children’s Residential Project (CRP) beds through OPWDD. The Children’s Residential Project (CRP) is the formal linkage of the private special education (853) school and the OPWDD Licensed residences into a single academic placement.

Placement in the Kessler Center day school program and 24-hour program can only be made through the school district Committee on Special Education (CSE) process, not directly by OPWDD or any voluntary agency. No change in student placement can be made by any authority other than the student’s CSE.

Email or call 585-649-7257

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