About Our District


Superintendent Raefksi sitting at desk

Welcome to the Hawthorne Cedar Knolls Union Free School District. Our staff works diligently to provide a strong academic focus within a caring, supportive environment. We are continuing a long tradition of providing quality services to our children.

Our vision is to help our students become productive, successful, contributing citizens of the 21st Century. Please use this site to find additional information about our campus and educational programs.



Hawthorne Cedar Knolls UFSD
A tradition of Providing Services to Students

The Hawthorne Cedar Knolls Union Free School District is a Special Act School District located 30 miles north of New York City in the suburban Westchester community of Hawthorne.  We are a K-12 public school district that provides a safe and therapeutic environment for day students referred to us by their local Committee on Special Education.  We serve students from Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Duchess, Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties as well as the five boroughs of NYC.  Our geographical location allows for convenient access for students from all over the Hudson Valley and the five boroughs of NYC. 

Our school district is comprised of the following three day programs: that serve students with disabilities:

Cedar Knolls Academy (K-8)

Linden Hill High School (9-12) 

Achieve Alternative High School (9-12)

LD – Learning Disabled

MD – Multiple Disabled

OHI – Other Health Impaired

SLI – Speech & Language Impaired

TBI – Traumatic Brain Injury

ID – Intellectually Disabled

ED – Emotionally Disabled

 The vision of the Board of Education and the Superintendent is to help these students become productive, successful, contributing citizens of the 21st Century. Hawthorne Cedar Knolls UFSD is a NYS public school district (LEA) and follows all the part 100 and part 200 Commissioner’s Regulations for provision of academic and special education services.

  • All teachers are highly qualified
  • State testing follows all of the procedures found in a typical district
  • Classified students follow a program mandated by their Individualized Educational Plan (IEP)
  • Highly qualified and certified school psychologists, social workers, vocational and guidance counselors, occupational and speech therapists provide related services
  • High School diplomas are granted by Hawthorne Cedar Knolls Union Free School District
  • Graduates go on to employment, military service or college

Our Social Emotion Learning incorporates Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS), Emotional Intelligence (EI) and Restorative Justices (RJ) practices in order to address the severe behavioral and emotional challenges our children face. Many have been victims of trauma and abuse, and subsequently suffer from PTSD and/or psychiatric and mental health issues as a result.

The Cedar Knolls Academy (CKA) is a special community that offers a small, nurturing academic day program serving children in grades kindergarten through eighth grade, with A K-6 grade wing for elementary students and a 7th-8th grade floor for middle school students.  Our students have previously struggled academically, socially and emotionally in traditional school settings, and so our focus is on the development of the “whole child”.  We have specially designed our program to foster Emotional Intelligence (El) and, as a result, ur students feel safe and are able to express their feelings in an appropriate and safe manner.

Our small class size (10:1:1) allows us to meet the individual needs of each student and to teach positive peer relationships. Students are supported daily by each team member in practicing their interpersonal and communication skills. Our therapeutic environment is strength based and emphasizes each positive step a child makes. The staff and students work together to create a school culture that makes it safe to learn, and each milestone is reinforced by acceptance and encouragement. Teachers work hard to differentiate instruction to meet each student’s academic needs, and the clinical team works closely with students, families and teachers to ensure the social-emotional success of all students.

The Linden Hill High School provides educational services to day students in grades 9-12.  Our day students are referred by their local Committees on Special Education. At Linden Hill, staff provide a kind and nurturing environment dedicated to meeting the social, emotional and academic needs of students with serve learning and social, emotional and behavioral disabilities. The highly skilled and experienced Linden Hill staff members are dedicated to creating and maintaining an innovative, nurturing and safe environment for this small learning community.  The small class ratio of 12:1:1 allows for our faculty to provide a therapeutic environment that supports students who have experienced severe trauma including neglect and abuse which often leads to episodes of aggressive and self-injurious behavior.   Students at Linden Hill work on individual academic, social emotional and behavioral goals all while working towards obtaining a NYS Regents or local diploma.

A school within a school, the Achieve Alternative High School (AAHS) program is designed to meet the needs of our most at-risk students who have not succeeded in a traditional school setting. Often these students are referred and arrive under-credited and over-aged, often making the ability to earn a high school diploma stressful and a challenge.    The AAHS program offers several different alternative programs that focus on where the student is currently at and where we can help them go.  Options include a Regents or Local Diploma, GED (High School Equivalency Diploma) and/or CDOS credential. Students are supported by services that are essential to their success, including counseling and prevocational/vocational opportunities.

The AAHS provides:

  • Instructional programs specific to the students’ expectations and learning styles
  • CDOS (Career Development and Occupational Studies)  - Work Skills and Work Study
  • GED (The General Educational Development tests are a group of four subject tests which, when passed, provide certification that the test taker has high school- level academic skills. It is an alternative to the high school diploma)      
  • Credit Recovery
  • High expectations for student achievement
  • Caring faculty with continual staff development and instructional planning meetings
  • Commitment to providing resources to ensure student success

An important component of the LH/AAHS program is their new PBIS program.  The LH/AAHS staff is dedicated to promoting the new “HIRED” program. The HIRED program focuses on daily target behaviors. LH/AAHS’s target behaviors are: (H) Have Your Work Completed, (I) Interact Acceptably, (R) Remain in Class, (E) Ensure Safety and (D) Do Your Job. Our staff work with students to help them develop the skills that will help them be successful in school, at home, in the community and at work.  In collaboration with our HIRED program, the Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) program focus on developing vocational and work skills needed for a smooth transition into the world of work.  The vocational program includes a CTE (CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION) Carpentry class as well as a work skills - work study component that focuses on CTE and CDOS (Career Development and Occupational Studies) training and hours that will allow students to develop basic job skills and obtain a CDOS certificate while working towards a high school or TASC diploma.   

Overview of Day Treatment:

Herschel Alt Westchester Day Treatment Center 
226 Linda Avenue
Hawthorne, NY 10532

Team Director: Budy Garcia-Whitfield, LCSW
Phone: (914) 749-2993
Fax:  (914) 703-5022

Services: Children's Day Treatment Programs:

An alternative to residential placement for emotionally disturbed youngsters, ages 6 to 21, living in New York. While living at home, children receive a full range of treatment services, including individual, family, and group therapy, medication management, individualized education curricula, remedial training, and vocational preparation. A special education school is on-site at the facility, which is on the grounds of the Hawthorne Cedar Knolls UFSD in the Cedar Knolls Academy and Linden Hill schools.