Despite whether or not your child has a learning difficulty, parents should assess their children’s needs and find suitable, local schools. For example, some children respond better to more rigid schedules and discipline, while others thrive in an open, hands-on environment. For a child with special needs, finding a good fit is most important.
Just because your child is diagnosed with a disability does not mean that he/she cannot attend private school. Public school districts are required to spend a proportionate share of their federal special education funds for students with disabilities parentally placed in private schools, to fund service plans. Public school districts are required to meet with the administrators of private institutions in their area at least annually to discuss what services they will provide.
Parents may decide to enroll their children in home school programs for a variety of reasons. Some feel their child needs the small structured environment of home. Some do not want their child exposed to the standardized requirements of a public school. Some need to avoid social situations. It could be that the child is involved in an activity that requires them to have an extremely flexible schedule.
If you believe your home-schooled child has a learning difficulty, you have the right to an evaluation and to seek services from your local public school district. However, the school district is not required to provide services to home-schooled children.
Should you choose private school, Jewish Family & Career Services is an approved provider for Joint Administration Testing Protocol utilized by private schools as part of their admissions process.
In the Atlanta Jewish community there are a few schools that have programs for students with disabilities:
- Atlanta Jewish Academy (AJA) offers the Matthew Blumenthal M’silot Program of AJA and the Running Start Kindergarten, which are programs designed for children who learn differently. In the programs, a child’s individual learning profile determines his or her instruction and path to success.
- The Davis Academy offers the Davis Learning Center (DLC), which provides learning support services for students with identified learning challenges in literacy, as well as additional strategies for academic success across the curriculum.
- The Epstein School offers a variety of support services to support the learning process for every learner, including those with unique needs. They offer Morning Reading Group for Kindergarten – 1st graders, Kesher for 1st graders, Sha’ar for students in grades 2-5, Hebrew Transition for 2nd-5th grade students, Learning Lab to assist 6th grade students and Extended Learning Lab for 6th, 7th and 8th graders.
You may also want to look into The Georgia Special Needs Scholarship (GSNS) Program, a school choice program available for special needs students who currently attend Georgia public schools and are served under an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) but whose families are considering private school. This is also referred to as SB10 funding.
Supplementary Jewish Learning
The Jewish Community is committed to providing accessible Jewish education to all students. Through funding from the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta a Community Inclusion Coordinator (CIC) position was created. Gena Boyle, Federation’s CIC, provides inclusion support and resources to local congregational schools in the Atlanta area. She also works with schools to hire Learning Resource Specialists to support students with disabilities. For more information about which synagogues participate in these programs, please contact Gena at email@example.com.