top of page

Millions spent as Catholic schools across the U.S. "struggle to accommodate" SPED kids

Aug 28, 2018, Religious News (Kansas City): Catholic schools struggle to accommodate disabilities … “In a Catholic school it’s true inclusion. Everybody is treated the same way,” Becky Winbinger said. “It’s not like that at a public school.” But this type of inclusion — the integration of students with special needs into the regular classroom — is new to many Catholic schools…. According to the National Catholic Educational Association, the number of students with disabilities in Catholic schools across the country has increased by almost 20,000 over the past three years. But because disability practices aren’t uniform across Catholic schools, families wanting a Catholic education for their disabled children often encounter tough choices. When Vincenza Spadafore was born with a rare genetic condition known as PURA syndrome, her parents, Christy and Dominic, faced a dilemma. The Catholic school their boys attended in Tulsa, Okla., was built in 1928, with lots of stairs and no elevator. The Spadafores knew it wouldn’t be suitable for their daughter. It wasn’t that the school didn’t want to help Vincenza, Christy Spadafore said, but there was no cost-effective way to do it. FIRE, which stands for Foundation for Inclusive Religious Education, was started in 1996 in Kansas City, Mo., after a group of parents were “heartbroken” they weren’t able to give their children with disabilities a Catholic education. They’ve since provided more than $4.8 million for inclusive Catholic education, investing $400,000 this past year, buying iPads, providing training and hiring special education teachers. … One of the biggest problems with serving students with disabilities in Catholic school is the lack of resources. The most common option is to partner with the child’s public school to receive certain therapy services. … CCSE has since awarded schools about 60 grants totaling nearly $1 million. It has worked with nearly 30 schools in Maryland, helping about 6,000 students, teachers and families. Its professional development program, called Believe in Me, is the most recent addition to its support services. The organization is using it as a way for more Catholic schools to get informed and start thinking about best ways to serve students with disabilities and to continue informing schools that have received CCSE grants in the past. On Monday (Aug. 27), more than 70 teachers and administrators attended….

bottom of page