Damar Services Inc. got the go-ahead Monday morning from Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard to open a school designed to serve students with significant developmental challenges.
If approved by the City-County Council, the new Damar Charter Academy would open later this fall. It would accept any student who wants to attend, but also specialize in students with significant cognitive, behavioral or developmental challenges, including those on the autism spectrum.
In its first year, the school will accept up to 150 students in grades K-12. It hopes to grow to as many as 400 students. The school will be at the campus of Damar Services at 6067 Decatur Blvd., south of Indianapolis International Airport.
Charter schools receive taxpayer funds for each student they enroll, but they are free from state regulations in setting their curriculum, staffing and budgets. Also, no charters in Indiana have unionized teachers.
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 as the residential school but who do not require a residential placement.
Damar Charter Academy will have 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 to ensure that newly learned skills are maintained by students.
“I congratulate Damar Services Inc. for their dedication in meeting the needs of a very important group of students in our community,” Ballard said in a prepared statement.
The school’s application will go before the City-County Council later on Monday.
Damar Charter Academy would be the 23rd charter school approved by the mayor of Indianapolis, who was given the power to authorize charter schools in 2011 by the Indiana General Assembly.
Ball State University also has approved numerous charter schools.