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Decisions facing parents of special needs children

6:36 PM, Sep 6, 2012   |    comments
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Jacksonville, Fla. -- Keshinda Jackson thought she had made the best decision for her son, Taharka, who was entering kindergarten. She had a change of heart.

Jackson is hardly alone as parents of special needs children face many decisions. In her case it was finding the best classroom fit for Taharka who has Downs Syndrome.

"I really wanted him to attend KIPP for kindergarten, yes thought a good idea, a good match," said Jackson.

KIPP is a charter school that this year expanded offering four kindergarten classes.

Jackson says two weeks before classes started she met with administrators to finalize enrollment.

"They were saying they could help him, that he could go there, but it would not be a good fit for him," she said.

KIPP Executive Director Tom Majdanics gives a different account of that conversation staff had with the mother.

"We told her repeatedly she was welcome to come to KIPP and she is still welcome to come to KIPP," said Majdanics.

Majdanics said parents of special needs children were told that their children would be in a classroom with 25 children taught by two teachers with a special education instructor rotating between four classrooms.

"We explained the offering that we have at our school, ultimately it is up to the parent to decide whether our school is the best option," said Majdanics who noted six of seven parents with special needs children ultimately decided on KIPP.

Jackson says she opted for a public school for her son.

Parents with special needs children do have options with charter schools, public schools and McKay Scholarships. Those scholarships afford parents opportunities to send their children to private schools.

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