Search This Blog

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Autism Charter Schools in Texas and Florida

The San Antonio Express-News reports:

The Foundation School opened in August, but officials with charter school operator Responsive Education Solutions plan to formally announce the school’s opening at a press conference today in Austin, where they will be joined by state senators Florence Shapiro and Leticia Van de Putte.

Suzanne Marchman, a spokeswoman with the Texas Education Agency, said the agency is not aware of any other charter schools in the state that serve primarily students with autism, although schools aren’t required to report their specialties. Marchman also said that, while there might be programs specializing in autism, no traditional public schools in Texas specialize in the treatment and education of children with the disorder.


The school was founded after the Treehouse Pediatric Center & Behavioral Services, a private day school for children with autism, abruptly shut down less than a year ago. The nonprofit Autism Community Network raised enough money to continue therapy in a temporary, stop-gap measure, but many families were left trying to find a good option for their children.

Ultimately, ACN partnered with ResponsiveEd, the charter holder that now operates the Foundation School. Some employees from Treehouse, including Miller, are part of the new school, as are a handful of families.

Pace and his wife, Mindy, chose the school partly because their son would be able to remain with familiar staff, but also because of the low teacher-to-student ratio.

Classrooms have a certified special education teacher, a behavior technician and an assistant. Speech and occupational therapists and a specialist in Applied Behavior Analysis also meet with students throughout the week.

The Foundation School is an open-enrollment charter school, meaning the students without autism may attend, although virtually everything at the school is done with autism in mind.

Charles Cook, CEO of ResponsiveEd, said the group still is working to hammer out a sustainable funding model for the school.

See earlier post on Texas special education and charters.

WPTV reports on a middle school in Florida: