Special needs students in five districts have no place to go

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NOBLESVILLE — Special needs students in five school districts are being displaced after their temporary housing in a Noblesville school ended and they can’t find a new place to go.

The MOSAICS program is a partnership between Noblesville, Westfield, Hamilton Heights, Sheridan and Franklin Lapel schools. It takes kids who are high-need and can’t work in a standard school environment and gives them specialized, one-on-one attention with the goal to eventually transition back into their home school.

At any one time, the program houses about 40 kids.

In 10-year-old Noah Thomas’ case, his dad said it has made a huge difference in his behaviors and learning abilities.

“(It’s) worked miracles with him,” Thomas said.

So, when just this week Thomas got a call that the school would need to disband and spread students out, he couldn’t imagine uprooting Noah, who is autistic, yet again.

“My immediate reaction was shock. I mean, it was basically like having the rug pulled out from underneath you,” Thomas said.

Noblesville Superintendent Dr. Libbie Conner said that the deal has always been to house the program on the Noblesville Freshman Campus for two years, then to move it elsewhere.

Yet, Conner and other school officials said they haven’t been able to find somewhere else that will fit all of the kids.

“We’re short on space. … We’re at capacity in most of our buildings,” Conner said.

The plan will likely be to spread the kids out among several buildings, keeping their one-on-one instruction and having the principal travel from school to school.

Thomas said he’s not convinced there was no way to avoid this problem.

“We have new baseball diamonds, we have new additions to the high school … and my son doesn’t have one place to go to school,” Thomas said.

The five district superintendents will vote on what to do at a meeting Friday at 9 a.m. The meeting is open to the public at the Noblesville Schools Administration Building.