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School Helps Students With Autism

Last updated on Monday, September 5, 2011

(Indianapolis) - A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Friday at Indiana’s first public charter school designed specifically for students with autism and other intellectual and developmental challenges.

About 150 students in grades k-12 are enrolled at Damar Charter Academy on the southwest side of Indianapolis.

Lauri Reid's 8-year-old autistic son, Caleb, is one of them. Reid says the school is saving her family about $9,000 a year in tuition costs.

Charter schools receive taxpayer money for each student they enroll, but they are free from state regulations in setting their curriculum, staffing and budgets. Damar services has operated an accredited residential school serving more than 200 children on a daily basis for more than 15 years.

Damar charter academy will serve students with similar challenges but who do not require a residential placement. The academy has behavioral health professionals and other support staff in each classroom to help students with their behavioral progress and life skills.

The school will operate on a year-round schedule. Administrators hope to eventually be able to enroll 400 kids.

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