Streams

SI Gets 1st Charter School; Will Help Mentally Ill

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A lottery will be held tonight for seats in Staten Island's first charter school. As WNYC's Beth Fertig reports, the grade 6-through-12 school has an unusual program.

REPORTER: When the John W. Lavelle Preparatory Charter School opens in September with its first class of sixth graders, organizers expect a large number of them will have emotional challenges. These include schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder and anxiety.

The school's president, social worker Ken Byalin, says students with mental illnesses have high dropout rates, but they could do much better if they had the right support.

The Lavelle school will have a clinic and small classes. But it won't be exclusive to students with mental illnesses. All students can apply and organizers sent invitations to families throughout Staten Island. 150 students applied for 75 seats and more can apply after the lottery to join a wait list.

Byalin envisions an inclusive community for all kinds of students. The school will share a building with a new high school for its first two years. For WNYC I'm Beth Fertig.

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