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Does Your Child Need a School Placement? Do You Know of an Alternative Program?
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

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9/6/09

Dear Readers:

This is the time of year when my phone rings off the hook with heartbreaking calls from parents desperately looking for school placements for their children.

This past Shabbos afternoon, while out walking, I thought of an interesting idea that might prove to be of help to parents who find themselves in that predicament – using this website and the power of the Internet to connect parents and prospective schools.

School placements for kids who don’t “fit the mold” are rather complicated, as not all alternative programs are the same. Just two examples: Some alternative schools are geared to kids who are well-behaved but need to learn at a slower pace, while others are designed to motivate bright, restless, or turned-off children. Some are more tolerant of smoking and/or substance abuse, while others have a one-strike-and-you-are-out policy.

Matching kids and schools is, in all honesty, similar to a shidduch. So; how about having our readers roll up their sleeves and become shadchanim?

Here is my suggestion:

1) Any parent in need of a school placement, just write a post at the bottom of this thread with a description of your child and his/her needs, listing any learning or social issues. Please leave an email address where faculty members of an alternative program, or parents who have sent their child to such a program can contact you. If you wish to maintain your anonymity, I suggest that you create an anonymous email address specifically for this use (it is very simple to do with GMAIL, AOL, or others providers).

2) Heads of alternative schools, or parents who have placed children there, please write a paragraph or two describing the program and leaving contact information. May I suggest that the school information contain the following:

a. Type of children the school is geared for (as noted above in the third paragraph)

b. Location

c. Language of instruction (Yiddish, English or Ivrit?)

d. Tuition (are scholarships available?)

e. Geared for boys, girls, or coed?

f. Are there dorm facilities?

g. Staff to student ratio (are there trained professionals on staff?)

h. School’s policy regarding smoking, drinking, and substance abuse (Is there mandatory drug testing? Do kids get expelled for drug use?)

It is difficult for me to convey the raw pain, desperation, loneliness, and frustration of children who are sitting at home as the school year begins, with no place to go – and the gehenom their parents go through as they helplessly watch this situation unfold.

Please take a moment to participate in this shidduch-making process and forward this email to school personnel and/or parents (even teens themselves, who actually may be the best sources of information) who may be able to assist with this project – or are in need of help. As the information rolls in, I will have someone collate it and post it in a format that will be more readable and easily accessible on this website.

In the ze’chus of our collective efforts, may Hashem grant us a k’siva v’chasima tova and a year of nachas from all of His children.

Thanking you in advance for all your help,

Yakov Horowitz



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