Catholic schools are long-known for academic excellence and strong college and university preparation. Over the last decade, Catholic schools have made great strides in providing accommodations for students with learning disabilities and other special needs. Now, starting with the 2020-2021 school year, St. John Paul II High School, St. Francis Xavier Preparatory School, and St. Margaret Primary School will offer full-time direct special education services that will allow even more students to benefit from a Catholic schools’ unique environment and culture.
“Catholic schools are special places that should be open to all types of learners. With small class sizes and kind, flexible teachers, we do an excellent job making accommodations. Now with this new program, direct services will be delivered at school and as part of the school program and staff,” stated Christopher W. Keavy, school President. Currently, 11% of St. Margaret, St. Francis Xavier, and St. John Paul II students have learning differences and will be assisted by this new program.
This initiative joins broader efforts by faith-based schools to increase access to special education services for religious school students. For example, St. John Paul II High School, St. Francis Xavier Preparatory School, and St. Margaret Primary School support Project Access, which is a coalition of faith-based non-public schools whose mission is to advocate for public resources to support non-public school students, such as special education services. This coalition will also ensure that non-public students in Massachusetts access the state and federal programs to which they are entitled even though their parents choose to send their children to non-public schools.
“Special education services will have a profound impact on the success and achievement of students with learning differences. The additional support will provide students with the tools needed to be successful and to reach their full academic potential,” explained Elizabeth Hutchison, St. Margaret Principal. St. John Paul II Principal Mona Lisa Valentino and St. Francis Xavier Principal Beth Kelley agree. “We are excited to provide this new resource for our students, which is rooted in the spirit of our mission to serve all God’s children,” they said.