Louisiana's first tuition-free school for children with Autism welcomes first class Monday

Updated: Aug. 19, 2018 at 2:50 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana's first charter school for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, The Emerge School for Autism, is set to welcome its first class and begin operations on Monday.

According to information shared by officials from the Emerge School, when students began transitioning out of programs offered by the Emerge Foundation and into traditional schools settings, students who had been successful within Emerge programs became significantly challenged by new environments. Those environments lacked educational and therapeutic tools they needed to achieve success. In 2016, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation unveiled findings from a study of Autism Spectrum Disorder resources in the Capital Region, in which they found that educational opportunities for children with Autism are limited by the small number of private and public school classroom resources, as schools largely often opted out of offering curriculums featuring Applied Behavior Analysis.

"For years, Baton Rouge and the surrounding communities have called for extended educational services for children with autism," said Jean-Paul Perrault, Board Chair of The Emerge School for Autism. "The Emerge School was born from this demand and we're excited to provide this unique therapeutically-focused education option to families in our community."

The Emerge School for Autism will serve children ages five to eleven and grow to serve approximately 120 students over time, according to a letter sent out from school officials. For its launch, the school will operate out of two classrooms to serve twenty children in its kindergarten class during the 2018-2019 school year.

The curriculum will be tailored to each child's individual needs and provide special education instruction using ABA, Speech-Language, and Occupational Therapy to children to prepare them for future education settings with a functional communication system, improved independence, self-help skills, and essential learner readiness skills. Socio-emotional learning will enhance the academic performance of the students and their ability to integrate into society or back to their home school. Data-driven decision-making will be an integral part of The Emerge School, as the team will collect data daily, and analyze data weekly for each student.

"We are excited to expand our reach and impact in this community and beyond with the launch of The Emerge School for Autism and The Emerge Foundation," said Melissa Juneau, CEO.  "With continued community support, our expanded organization is well-positioned to grow the depth and breadth of our innovative programs and services for children with autism and individuals with communication challenges."

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