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Terri Mauro

Special Education Comes to Catholic School

By February 23, 2010

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School UniformsOne of my frustrations, as my kids were coming up through school, was how few options there were if I became determined to ditch the public school system. Private schools that cater to special needs in our area work only with school districts, so even if we had the coin to make the tuition, they didn't want our money. Catholic schools, of which there are many in our area in need of parents' money, weren't a viable option for my kids' level of special-education need, and I'd heard bad stories from parents who'd tried it.

Maybe that's changing now, though, because according to an item in Disability News, Catholic schools seem poised to get into the special-education business in a big way. Parents willing to raise funds to create special-education programs in parish schools or pay higher tuition to take advantage of them are making it possible for special-needs students to have a faith-based inclusion experience. Many schools that don't have full-fledged special-ed have added resource teachers to their staffs.

I wonder if the new openness to special-ed is driven somewhat by the shrinking population of regular-education students choosing Catholic education. I know in my part of New Jersey, parish schools are shutting right and left as diocesan funding dries up and families who are struggling financially return to public school. Maybe students with disabilities, who for so long had no place in parochial schools, may be the savior of some of them.

Does your child with special needs go to parochial school? What has your experience been? Share in the comments.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

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Comments
March 4, 2010 at 1:30 pm
(1) ann says:

I was looking for a school and I found a family when I discovered Mcgann-Mercy HS in Riverehead ny They have noursihed and encouraged my ld child. They have a great program which includes a director, staff and also district staff. It’s the best of both worlds.

March 10, 2010 at 8:08 am
(2) Kathi says:

I work with students at a small Catholic School in Columbus, OH. We have a program here called SPICE,
Special People In Catholic Education. It includes gifted students as well as Special Needs. We have a handful of students from high functioning Autistic to mild MR and those with combination diagnosis. We do fun raising and apply for grants to help defray the cost. The parents are, for the most part, very happy with this option.

March 19, 2010 at 6:29 am
(3) CM says:

We are going through this problem right know our son attends a private Catholic School in AZ and we are on the fine line for getting expelled. Our son has ADHD-Impulstivity he is highly structured and tends to get upset when routine is deviated. The school’s tolerance waivers and with the last incident a parent complained and that has seemed to weigh heavily on the school’s thoughts on “not being able to accomadate his needs” with only 2.5 months left in school!!! The problem I have is at the beginning of the school year I wanted my son re-evaluated and he got through some issues and he was fine so the school said let’s “hold off”. Big mistake! Should have gone with my mom instinct and had him re-tested-since his test were from another school district. If anyone knows schools districts evals do not move quickly. My thoughts are is the school Catholic in name only??? We are possibly relocating and I want to continue our children in a Catholic School, but it scary that we may go down this path again. I went to Catholic Schools and I want that for my children. I want to push for awareness in the Catholic Schools and an increased tolerance. I don’t want to brag about my son, but people need to know that there are children with needs and they have a right to be educated in the school also along with anyone else-learn to respect others and love one another.

May 24, 2010 at 8:35 pm
(4) Lisa says:

To the person whose child is going to McGann Mercy in Riverhead: So glad to hear that they have this becasue my son may be going there in the future. But do you happen to know if St. Isadore’s has any special education accomodations? Just curious, I am afraid to make the leap to Catholic school if they cannot accomodate him. Thanks for any insight you can provide me!!

June 7, 2010 at 11:15 pm
(5) Tracy Allis says:

We are at a Catholic school currently in St. Roberts Bellermine Catholic School in Flushing, Michigan. They were quite nice in the beginning, but when our son with autism and our daughter with mild cerebral palsy needed extra help behaviorally (grades are great), they are telling me they do not have the resources (which it is expensive for the school to provide extra help). They are too loosing students, and I’m sure that is NOT the reason for special needs help. They only oblige if parents are diligent and try and work with the school. You still do not feel as though your really can be reassured that every semester and year, they’re not going to ask you to leave. I believe and they cater mainly to the well educated families children and of course many with money to support the education. Let’s face it. It is much easier for the principal, the teachers and everyone involved to not deal with special needs children. Sad but very true. My children are hard work and we’re fortunate to get an opportunity to at least give it a try. The biggest confusing thing to me is the biblical sense “what would Jesus do”. Kick out the special needs children and educate the rich?

June 7, 2010 at 11:18 pm
(6) Tracy Allis says:

We all need to address this with the highest Catholic office. Special Education should not just be a public school issue. We are Catholic too. Write the Pope. It is necessary to make change, but we all have to do so. I already wrote him a letter just for that reason…

June 8, 2010 at 9:43 am
(7) wendy says:

Tracy, can you please email me the address for the pope I would love to write him a letter. My son is 6 years old he is a typical child who attends St. Mary gate of heaven in richmond hill NY. I have a 10 month old baby born with down syndrome and i know its still early but I would love to have my DS baby go to the same school for the same catholic education. My older son does very well there it is an excellent school most of the teachers tutor after school and I know that there is even tutoring during class for children who are behind. My son is a high functioning DS child I am sure that when the time comes for school he will do great. But i really have my heart set on both my kids attending the same school for catholic education.

August 8, 2010 at 12:54 am
(8) Tracy says:

His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI
Apostolic Palace
00120 Vatican City

September 16, 2010 at 7:04 pm
(9) Tracy Allis says:

I am concerned this year as our daughter again is having a really difficult time. She stood up twice during music class. When asked to sit she refused and they have decided that a different environment would be best for our daughter (out of their school). I haven’t spoken to anyone more about this, but that is what her teacher said. Funny, but the day before, we had let the school be aware that she is going to an alternative medicine option for her concerns and that there would be a couple of days without medicine. It gave an opportunity to get rid of her with documentation of poor behavior (we also offered to keep her home from the second grade classroom). Its disappointing and I was just told that the Baptist school in our area welcomes children with special needs as god would want it. I’m very confused with not only the education issues, but my faith in the catholic religion as we know it. God was good not only toward some people. Not only toward the wealthy, the bright, the amazing achievers. God is loving kind and most of all true. We all need to not follow, but rethink our situations and realize what should be not what is.

October 3, 2010 at 4:47 pm
(10) Ann Marie says:

Friends,
I have a 9 year old daughter with Down syndrome. I’ve been trying for 5 years to have a Catholic school accept her. My 2 boys (6th grade and 8th grade) are in their 4th years of Catholic school.
Some cities with separate Catholic Special Education schools: New Orleans (St. Michael 1965), Dallas (Notre Dame 1963)

Some areas with inclusion: St. Louis, MO (oldest and has Special Ed Department), Pittsburgh (St. Anthony School Programs), Kansas City MO (Foundation for Inclusion Religious Education-FIRE), Maryland/DC (Catholic Coalition for Special Education).

There are more. I live in an Archdiocese which does not have a separate or inclusive program. I keep praying & trying. The superintendent is listening and it will happen one day. I hope & pray it’s when my daughter can use it.

What better pro-life example is there than to include students who society say we should terminate before birth?

October 5, 2010 at 5:10 pm
(11) Maritza says:

Does anyone knows of a catholic schoool in the Bronx, New York area that accepets children with special needs. My 4 year old will begin elementary school next year. He is diagnosed with PDD-NOS. If so please e-mail me the information. Thanks!

October 12, 2010 at 1:28 pm
(12) Kathy Ward says:

I live in Tulsa, OK and have a 9 year old daughter with Down syndrome. We approached our principal of Marquette School, the Parish School of Christ The King Catholic Church when she was only 4 years old. We had a daughter already in the second grade when she was born and were saddened to think she would not be accepted. However, our principal was thrilled at the opportunity to provide for her. Our pastor, Fr Tam was very willing to open the door for her as well. It has been up to us to fund raise, form a board, and gather continued support for our program to support paras in the classroom and a part time special education teacher to write curriculum. This inclusive program works well – we now have 4 students who otherwise would have never been accepted to a traditional Catholic school. And I agree – what better way to teach pro life than to accept fully those children who are different but who’s parents chose life.

February 18, 2011 at 12:00 am
(13) CINDY says:

I AM SO VERY INTERESTED IN WHAT KATHY WARD HAD TO SAY. I HAVE A FIVE YEAR OLD DAUGHTER WITH DOWN SYNDROME, I NEED SOME HELP IN THE AREA OF GRANTS TO HIRE A SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHER. I REALLY WANT MY DAUGHTER TO ATTEND CATHOLIC SCHOOL WITH HER BROTHER. YUMA, AZ.

February 22, 2011 at 12:10 am
(14) Dawn says:

My 9 year old ADHD inattentive and impulsive has a wonderful Catholic school education? Our school works very closely and actively to help educate my son and he is doing very well. Or school receives state funding from our town which allow him an in class support teacher 5 days a week and has since first grade. The teachers and principle work closely with me along with the child study team from our school district which administers evaluations and his IEP.

I’m a little confused why others in Catholic Schools don’t get their share from the school district? You do pay school tax you don’t use and you private school should receive assistance.

I love my Catholic school. It’s small, loving with some high academic standards that challenge my son and is doing wonderfully! No bullying, loving, family, caring and spiritual.

February 23, 2011 at 5:37 pm
(15) Mia says:

I am registering my son for Kindergarten at the same Catholic school that his sister has attended for the last 2 years. I met with the principal, school psych., reading specialist, special needs intervention specialist, and kindergarten teacher prior to get the green light. My son is autistic with emerging speech. He needs to be around typical children to continue to develop socially. The principal is young and new and the rest of the staff are not as familiar as they could be with the autism spectrum. I went in knowing that I will be the support system and “educator to the educators”. I assured them this is a joint venture, I am easy to reach and happy to answer questions. I will put together a teacher inservice, set up an observation time at his current preschool for the teacher and psych., and hit up the school/parent organization to sponsor a Autism Awareness Campaign at the school.
I hate that we can’t just register like everyone else. I never wanted to have to educate ANYONE. I hate that I have to “beg” to get him in there. The whole situation stinks, but by God if it makes the path a little smoother for my son and opens the door for others to have this option, then I will make it happen.

March 27, 2011 at 2:25 pm
(16) Melanie says:

Check out http://adspecialed.com. They are developing special needs programs in Christian scohols.

April 2, 2011 at 10:33 pm
(17) Shelley says:

I have an 8 year old with ADHD and high impulsivity. We have been in Catholic school for K-2 but I was told this was his last year there. The school is unwilling to implement consistent positive behaviorial modifications. I keep hearing “we’re doing the best we can”. I’ve met with the district who are in the process of evaluating his needs but are pretty sure it’s a classroom management issue. It’s very frustrating to not get the support from the church. What is this teaching our children?

I’m encourage with Dawn’s comment that she’s having success but our public district won’t pay for services in a private school. But they did tell me they would happily and very successfully serve my child. He just may end up there next year. I’m just hoping we make it to first communion.

April 24, 2011 at 12:55 am
(18) Ann Marie says:

Our prayer group formed a website to help move along establishing Special Education http://www.familiesprayingtogether.com . We have listings of some other Catholic Special Education programs and links to resources. Please add comments there, too!

October 5, 2011 at 3:53 pm
(19) Angie Torres says:

The school identified that my son required special svcs and I did everything in my will power to ensure that he received it. My son was enrolled in Prek 2010 through 2011. Once I paid the tuition for May and June, my son was immediately released on May 12th without any option but to have a full time monitor with him. This plan was established and enforced within 24 hours. How ironic that once the full tuition was paid, he was dismissed like a piece of trash? I fought this issue, and he returned to complete graduation. I consider his catholic school a sadness to Catholics. For God’s sake, HE was ONLY 4 YEARS OLD!! The school isolated me and my son as news of his disability filtered through the school. Thank God I am out of there. My reaction to the school had nothing to do with the special svcs that my child req’d. My feedback is based on actions applied by the school. Once the child was identified as “special needs” the behaviors of all teachers changed, as well as the school. Despite the fact that St. Ray acknowledged & observed that the child req. special svcs, they maintaned his enrollment thru the middle of May when tuitiions for May & June were pd in full on 5/10. How ironic that the child is dismissed on May 12th! I acknowledged that my son required help & the help was initiated by me on January 11th. I was not in denial! The process was delayed from Bd. of Ed., & St. Ray was fully aware! THE SCHOOL MAINTAINED and SECURED THEIR MAIN INTEREST ($$) and THEN DISMISSED MY SON 3 WEEKS PRIOR TO GRADUATION!! Thankfully, thru help of the Bd. of Ed., my son was able to attend Prek graduation! The school actions were harrasing at times, especially at wk. Both of my children attended parochial school. Thankfully to the Bd. of Ed, my son was able to maintain private schooling and I immediately withdrew my other son from St. Ray’s. I thank the catholic school for all their help. Their bullying tactics almost gave me a nervous breakdown.

October 18, 2011 at 3:06 pm
(20) Marta Cuatto says:

I am the director of a Catholic school in Louisville, Kentucky and our school not only has a great Classical curriculum but we were inspired to incorporate and welcome children with special needs, particularly Down Syndrome, into our regular classrooms. Our children thrive here and we are trying to create a model for other Catholic schools to replicate throughout the country. We need to take in all children *because* we are Catholic and we understand the dignity and value of each child.

February 11, 2012 at 4:43 pm
(21) John Schellberg says:

I have a downs daughter who is going to be 22 this year. The Catholic Church did nothing to help her or my wife and I in the 22 years of her life. They have ministries for everything but none for children with disabilities. Even though our Katie is one of our greatest joys life could have been so much better for her if the chruch would have reached out and provided her a roll model. We have twin sons that will be 20 this year and they went to Catholic school until going to college so our family was always in the church or school with Katie. Just have a ministry to interact with children with disabilities where children can just spend a little time with disable children the rewards for both would be amazing. If our Katie had a visit from a girl her age for an hour a week I know she would have benfitted.

February 16, 2012 at 6:37 pm
(22) Jeanne says:

I am looking for a catholic school that can educate my 7th grade son who has ADD. Hhas no behavior problems, he’s just a normal child who has trouble concentrating. He wants to be among regular kids because the special Ed schools have many autistic children not able to socialize with my son. He needs friends and a special way to learn. I live in Suffolk county on long island

April 12, 2012 at 7:45 am
(23) Marie says:

Dawn, I was encouraged by what you said. What school district and Catholic School are you in? My son is going into 6th grade and he was just diagnosed with ADHD and a reading and math disorder. We would love to find a Catholic School in our area to support his needs.

April 21, 2012 at 10:53 pm
(24) Caroline says:

Ann, your positive comments about McGann Mercy in Riverhead made my heart sing tonight! Thank you! We are on Long Island in the Moriches area and had been worried about “what next” for our son, knowing that a public high school would not work for him. Thank you. Thank you . Thank you.

May 2, 2012 at 7:07 pm
(25) Mary says:

I second McGann-Mercy! They have a special program for kids with IEPs or 504s.

July 4, 2012 at 4:20 pm
(26) Michelle says:

My husband and I had and raised 4 children, put them all through Catholic school, none of them had problems. All are thriving adults. In 2008, we adopted a child. He went to a Christian school for Pre-K, Kindergarten and 1st grade. We sent him to this school because of the environment (very loving, on 13 acres of land with farm animals). Our son who was the product of drug addicts was thriving there. The school ended up closing after 1st grade due to the economic times. I called our parish and explained his difficulties, we have found out that he has Aspergers. He gets straight As and Bs but has difficult with personal space and social behaviors with other children. The Catholic school said they would give him a test for a week, during that week he did wonderful. He was enrolled and we were so thankful. We never heard a word about bad behavior, etc. Two weeks after Christmas break the principal called me and asked me to meet with her. At that time she informed me that due to our son’s inability to stay out of other children’s personal space, parents were complaining that today was his last day. I asked them how he was bothering the children, I was told he sat too closely to other children, he touched their hair, he touched their arms and they did not want him to touch them at all. They also told me that he could not even come to Religious Education classes that I would have to home school in religion. I don’t understand as being raised Catholic, how the Catholic church can just turn away children who are innocent victims in this life. They didn’t ask to be put here, they didn’t ask for their disabilities but are ostracized by the religion I have donated, tithed and volunteered to for over 35 years. If anyone knows of a Catholic elementary school in Colorado who can offer the education I was given to my Asperger child, please let me know.

November 27, 2012 at 4:15 am
(27) Suzette says:

Reading these stories regarding your children not being allowed to attend Catholic Schools breaks my heart. I am Special Education teacher at a public high school for students who have moderate to intense needs. I I have always dreamt of teaching at a Catholic School, but have never found one to be inclusive. Coming from St.Louis, there are Catholic Schools in the area that offer special education, but they are competely separate. I hope and pray that one day ALL of God’s children can go to school together to learn about Him and become closer to Him. If anyone knows of an inclusive Catholic school, I would love to learn more!
Thank you and God Bless,
Suzette

December 1, 2012 at 9:02 am
(28) Andrea says:

I live in the New Orleans area and have a 6 year old with ADHD, Auditory Processing, and Sensory Development issues. When she was tested for ADD, the results came back that she was very bright. Due to her auditory processing issues, she struggles with multiple step or complex instructions. She struggles with staying in her desk, talking, and concentrating on her work.

We have already been in and out of two Catholic Schools in the area in the last four years. My experience has been that the teachers and administration have little to no knowledge of how to educate any child who is not completely average in every way. They are very quick to label and put children in boxes. In their opinion, if you have ADD/ADHD, then you have the same challenges of every other child with ADD. No deviations from a certain “box”. I have also found the older teachers to be extremely intolerant of any child who does not behave like a mindless robot. In talking to other parents who have children with special needs, I hear that these children are not welcome at Catholic schools in this area. Time and time again, they are told, “we don’t have the resources”. But I have noticed that the wealthier families and those who give more to the church are given a little extra help in this department.

I wanted my child to attend Catholic schools. I did, my parents did, and that was my plan for her. However; at this point, I am questioning whether I even want to raise her in the Catholic faith. Its getting harder and harder to go to church on Sundays and sit with people who have turned their back on your child.

Thank you to the previous commenter who posted the Pope’s mailing address. I am going to write a letter as well and encourage other parents who are in a simliar situation to do so.

December 3, 2012 at 6:50 am
(29) Dawn says:

My children attend one of the wealthiest Catholic schools in Massachusetts. Instead of putting in a resource room or special ed they put in a 500,000 art and music addition. They raised 500,000 for music and art but nothing to help further education for children. They are more concerned about how they look on a pamphlit instead of the welfare of the children.
My daughter is struggling in reading and math and they suggested meeting with a teacher for 15 min a week! Are you kidding me?????? These teachers won’t even stay after school to help these kids. It makes me sick but the town I live in is not an option for me to send my kids to.
I am trying to raise funds for a resource room or a tutoring room for the children. I pay over 100 a week for tutoring along with having THREE kids in this school.
The principal’s son was diagnosed in utero with downs. Her older one will attend school next year here. I wonder if she will be humming a different tune when it comes to her future sons education and not being able to have him go to the same school that her other son attends and she is a principle at. Any ideas or suggestions on how to do fundraisers?????

January 13, 2013 at 3:20 pm
(30) starling says:

Michelle, Where in Colorado are you? My 25 year old daughter attended Catholic School in Colorado, along with her siblings, until she was in 2nd grade, at which time I was told she and her brother would not be able to attend because of their ADHD/ADD, OCD, and ODD (turns out they were Aspergers). I homeschooled her and her 3 siblings and it was the best thing I ever did. She is now getting her Masters in Art and is a talented artist. Her brother is also on the autistic spectrum and was accepted into the Air Force Academy however after basic training decided to accept his academic and athletic scholarships at the local university where he will be graduating with a double degree this May. How can I shout this loud enough: CATHOLIC SCHOOLS ARE MISSING THE BOAT WITH SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENTS!! Before I had a family I was an LPN, however after my youngest was in high school (she went to high school because she wasn’t “special” enough) I returned to college to become a certified SPED teacher. I have been teaching SPED in the public school for 2 years now and would like to teach SPED in a CATHOLIC school, unfortunately there aren’t any SPED programs in the local CATHOLIC schools :^( What population did Maria Montessori first “teach” to? ANSWER: the SPED population of Italy! I attended 12 years of Catholic school plus 2 additional years of nurses training at a Catholic college. Our diocesan schools should ashamed of themselves; refusing to meet the educational needs of children with learning disabilities. I am now in Arizona and will be working on getting this changed in my area. I may be a sore thumb to the diocese but I know that God has called me to this field for a reason. Pray that God gives me the skills to present my cause to the diocesan director of education in a GRACEFUL manner. Blessings to you

January 17, 2013 at 11:24 am
(31) Sharon says:

There are some facts that need considering–1, according the IDEA a private school (including religious schools) does NOT have to adhere to IDEA if they do not receive federal funding for educational purposes. However, if a private, religious school receives funding from an entity like a diocese then they MAY have to adhere. Funding, at the heart of it, is a key issue. Also, most Catholic schools teachers are paid significantly less than their public school counterparts and in many cases do not have experience in Sp. Ed. 2, it takes a very dedicated parent to navigate the red tape of dealing with a home school district & a private, religious school. Both sides try to “pass the buck” since neither really wants to address the situation appropriately–meaning meet the needs of the student. 3, most private, religious schools do not always have the means to meet the needs of a student with special needs–period. 4, There is a push within SOME Catholic communities to reach out to the Sp. Needs student who was overlooked in years past. This is in part due to a growing awareness of Sp. Needs within the faith community as a whole & partially due to dwindling enrollment. Either way, a parent is best advised to go to the Dir. of Ed. for a diocese if the Catholic school they are looking at receives funding from the diocese–which many do in this fiscal climate. Get their policies and recommendations in WRITING before your child attends or you send in tuition. “Hinder not the children” does not seem to be a motto embraced by all schools. Yet, with with some work and determination, it can happen. I have worked as an advocate for some families in this sceanrio and have found that often, the parents willing to educate themselves on their state’s regulations and actively participate in activities at the school seem more successful in acquiring necessary accomodations and therapies with both the home school district and the private instituition.

January 20, 2013 at 2:03 pm
(32) Mary says:

My daughter went to Catholic school for two years. The third year I was told they couldn’t “accomodate her needs”. She was devastated. It took her two years at the local public school before she stopped thinking that “they kicked her out” because she needed special ed for reading and math. The Catholic school isn’t equipped with the resources she needs. I don’t really like the public school system by us, but that’s what we have to work with for now.

January 24, 2013 at 9:57 pm
(33) Sandi rocha says:

So glad to have found this forum. Catholic schools are long overdue in providing schools for children with special needs. We see the crosses in the church yard to represent all the babies that are killed every day, my daughter attended Catholic school K thru 12. We are devout Catholics. When my daughter was told 3 months into her first pregnancy that the baby had a an abnormal 18th chromosome and that she might want to “terminate” her pregnancy- her answer was that only God could make that decision. She could not murder her own child. Emma is 10 years old now, so beautiful, the light of our lives and yes- a bit slow in learning, has had open heart surgery twice. I was shocked to find that our catholic school had no place for her. When she was born our priest said to just let the hospital priest baptise her. I have very nearly lost my faith-not in God-but certainly our church. How can the church live with this. My daughter is in Columbus Ohio now,getting doctorate @ OSU. We will definitely check the “spice” program (God bless the diocese for trying) and I will write yet another letter to the Pope copy to Monsignor. I know the church has the money and we pay a pretty hefty tuition to boot. Lets stop the hypocrisy and demand help for these little ones. Let us follow the example and get funding for schools like St Catharines.

January 27, 2013 at 12:46 am
(34) Adriana says:

I tried getting my daughter into st Patrick’s in Bayshore, NY. I met with principal & their SpEd teacher & showed all IEPs etc. she has a learning disability. After they let her shadow for a day (she was beyond thrilled), I got a letter in mail saying they were not accepting her! She was heartbroken & still is, a year later. The words of a 7 year old,”how can a school where God is do that?” I am still so upset that I’m having trouble deciding whether or not to register my son for Catholic HS, for which he has been accepted. Should we write to Bishop?

January 27, 2013 at 8:33 pm
(35) Crescent Garner says:

Please help me understand this, I am writing because I have a daughter that was diagnosed with a delay at 4 in daycare and went to public school….the Intermediate Unit in the area helped her for years. She has an official plan put together between the Intermediate Unit and the teachers. She is 10 now and still works really hard….so here is my delimena….my dearest friend has the 5 children and the 6 year old has a supposed delay….he is in Catholic school. He has repeat K once already and they want him to repeat again. The school will not release his files for help….why? She pays her tuition. Why would they want to not have him succeed? I am irritated and will be calling my congressman tomorrow about ths and also writing the vatican, NO CHILD SHOULD BE LEFT BEHIND, ever. Does anyone else have input for me?

February 9, 2013 at 1:57 am
(36) Marie says:

We live in florida. There are a number of different choices for special needs kiddos here because the state offers the McKay scholarship which helps pay for tuitions. Our daughter attends a wonderful catholic school for special needs kids. The change in our child has been amazing and there are other special needs children who attend the “regular” catholic schools as well.
It seems to me that it depends on the local archdioces as to how the schools handle special needs children. Ours has a special Ed division. You might want to contact yours and see what you can find out.
I agree that it is long past time that the Pope instruct the leaders here to start behaving more Christ like when it comes to educating our children. We love our school and it feeds into other catholic schools.

March 15, 2013 at 9:09 pm
(37) motherof6 says:

I have 5 kids . Our 5th just turne
d 3. He has down syndrome. My 4 kids attend the catholic school I went to as a child. I have asked the parish why we should have to pay for a para..? I am sick anout the hypocricy. I don’t think Pope Francisco would like this.

March 20, 2013 at 6:24 pm
(38) genesmarie says:

I am a mild/moderate special education teacher at the preschool level (ages 3-5). I have two boys in Catholic school in California and I couldn’t be happier with their education. My dream is to work at a Catholic school and provide the knowledge I have for those students who need the support (many students attend the school that are not diagnosed, but display characteristics of students under the autism spectrum). I would LOVE to open the doors to families with children that have special needs. Our school s talking about opening up a transitional kinder program, and I am in the process of discerning whether or not the position may be available for me. I love the idea of sharing my faith with all children! I loved reading all of your posts. I am inspired by you!

April 10, 2013 at 3:00 pm
(39) ammie aronson says:

I have 3 children two of which are on IEPS. My oldest has autism and my middle son is gifted. My husband and I have decided that we really want our children to go to Catholic school. Our parish has a k-8 school and I inquired about it. There are no concerns about my gifted son, but they couldn’t give me an answer about my son with autism. They will not give me even an incline or look at his records and IEP until after I have applied (which is a $100 non refundable fee BTW) so I am trying to get the most info I can as to if they my or may not take him before I proceed. He is on the high functioning end of autism not a behavior problem at all. He goes to the resource room now mostly because he needs small group instruction. The Catholic school we are considering is very small and I think it would be a great fit. Does anyone have experience with kids and autism at catholic schools?

July 11, 2013 at 5:02 pm
(40) Tony Riegling says:

I am both encouraged and sadened by some of these comments. As a Catholic school principal, I encourage those who are working with students and families with learning differences. To those schools who are not, please reconsider. Our school was the poorest in town. We welcomed students who were different and helped them grow in faith and knowledge. One, with whom I still keep in touch is in college and doing quite well–even though he was expelled from other schools before he came to us. I firmly believed he helped us more than we helped him. Parents, keep advocating for your children. Work the system and do your best to find allies. Jesus admonished the Appostles to let all the children come to him, not just those easy to teach or work with. We should always have a place for Catholic children.

July 17, 2013 at 12:33 pm
(41) Marie says:

I am 42 years old. I was enrolled by my parents in Catholic school in St. Louis from 1st through 8th grade. I was always at the top of my grade, except for math, which I had a terrible time performing well but I was bullied by the students for being ‘too smart’ and my parents were told by math teacher after math teacher that I was just ‘lazy.’ I fought with parents (mainly my mother) for three years (from 6th grade forward) to allow me to attend the excellent public high school right down the street. I prevailed and enrolled; within two months I had been identified as G & T (gifted and talented) and was tested and placed in the Advanced Placement program. I was also identified as having Dyscalculia; a disorder affecting between 3 and 6 % of the population which is similar to Dyslexia but with numbers. I have no doubt whatsoever that had I not reached out to the public school system I would have continued to struggle. The catholic school system failed me; it also failed my brother who was ADHD and special needs. I also watched as an adult as a member of the congregation who was the foundation of the pro-life activities at the same church be denied enrollment for her child with Down’s Syndrome. Pathetic. I left the Catholic church for this and other reasons and I sympathize with those who tell stories about parents who have the money getting the best treatment. The American Catholic church and education system, in my opinion, is corrupt and not serving the needs of ‘the lowliest of these.’

December 26, 2013 at 9:26 am
(42) Ann says:

I am currently creating a business plan for a Catholic School in my area to accommodate students with special needs. I am a behavior/developmental therapist with a Doctorate in Special Education; however, I have only worked with young children in early intervention. My hope is to be able to convince the church that there is a need in our area. The church is going to look for a profit before anything else. Do Special Education classrooms receive funding from the State? If not, what happens to parents who cannot afford to have their child placed in the program? Special Education classrooms within the public school in my area are limited and do not always provide the needed services to certain students. My goal is provide a quality Special Education program that offers the needed resources for children in our area. Any input would be greatly appreciated.

March 7, 2014 at 7:14 am
(43) Christine says:

We have found a wonderful small inclusive school for both my typical daughter to attend and my son who is PDD-NOS who will attend Kindergarten there this fall. It is the Academy of ST. Adalbert in Berea, OH. It is an Ohio Autism Scholarship Provider and the STEPS Center for Excellence is their partner for Autism services. My daughter loves it and they are VERY accepting of everyone and celebrate everyone’s differences. STEPS has a graduated program and children are evaluated individually for services so if they are not ready for mainstreaming, they can be at STEPS until they are ready for half days at ASA and half at STEPS, with the goal being to attend FULL days at ASA. The staff is incredible and there are two teachers in every class. Class size is about 15-22 depending on the grade. They have Preschool through 8th grade. The Religion program is exceptional and welcoming. No one bats an eyelash when we join them for Mass and my son walks down the aisle to shake everyone’s hand at the sign of peace or he talks louder because he has trouble controlling his volume. He had a meltdown yesterday picking up his sister and he was able to get through it without anyone giving us looks or stares, they TOTALLY UNDERSTAND. Like every school and every child are different, it is not a perfect fit for everyone. But it is a viable option if you have little choices for your children to have success, and a happy childhood and especially to keep your family together and out of separate schools. We are also using Middleburg Early Education Center for PreK and they are golden! My son has thrived there! I am so very sorry to hear about all these hardships, it was not easy for us either early on but at least we see a path to follow now. You still have to be careful what school district you live in because some are less discriminate about putting the IEP together and you may end up with a poorly put together IEP and missing OT, Speech or PT.

March 8, 2014 at 11:27 pm
(44) lisa says:

Catholic schools do not have the resources that public schools do. They do not get extra money from the government to accommodate students with special needs. Teachers at Catholic schools are paid significantly less than their public school counterparts. Yet, in many cases, they do a lot more work because they do not get paid for every “extra” thing they do. As mentioned, Jesus did not show preferential treatment to only the brightest members of society. However, I do think he would want all students to get the education they deserve. Public schools just have more money/resources to meet these needs.

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