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November 8, 2013

THEIR VIEW: An opportunity for special needs to go to college

For many parents of children with special needs, it’s hard to hear their child might never get a diploma or go to college. Franklin College aims to change that.

A new partnership between the college and Special Services Johnson County will allow students with special needs who have attended four years of high school to move on to college like other students their age. Students in the program will spend one to two years at the college, taking one college course a semester, and work in the community.

The college emphasizes the importance of universal respect for its students, and having students with special needs in classes with college students, learning right beside them, will help teach that everyone deserves to be treated the same and have the same opportunities, according to David Brailow, Franklin College vice president for academic affairs.

And students coming from the high schools will have the chance to branch out and learn about something they might never have had the chance to, he said.

Ten to 12 students in special education classes will get the chance to take certain core courses at Franklin College each semester. Some students will work at the college, and others will work at local businesses such as restaurants or social service agencies.

The students will not receive credit for the classes and will attend as auditors or guests, Brailow said.

Families won’t have to pay for the courses, which are being paid for with a Center Grove Education Foundation grant. Only students from Franklin and Center Grove high schools will be able to participate this semester. Students from all Johnson County school districts will be able to apply for the program next year.

The goal is to make students in the program employable, Special Services Johnson County transition coordinator Megan Horsley said. Having a job is a requirement, and by the end of their time at the college they should have the ability to keep a position and get to work on their own. Not all students will be able to participate. Only those who are ready to move on, based on teacher and parent opinions, will be able to participate, she said.

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