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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the existence of specialized support and services designed for students with disabilities in faith-based and nonsectarian elementary schools (n=57). An questionnaire was used to explore if there is a difference in how different faith tradition (Catholic, Protestant, Jewish) and nonsectarian affiliated elementary schools addressed the needs of enrolled students with identified disabilities. From 2006 to 2015, enrollment of students with a disability in a private school setting has increased from 1.0% to 1.4%. Faith-based schools overwhelmingly indicated a greater presence of special education type services: use of instructional aides, pullout small-group instruction; use of Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), written/visual schedules, presence of Lunch Bunch activities, and the use of an alternative curriculum, when compared to nonsectarian elementary schools. Within faith-based schools surveyed, Catholic schools provided specialized supports and services at a greater frequency when compared to Protestant and other faith-based schools. Qualified personnel, resources, and financial means were often cited as major factors contributing to the varied presence of support and services in private schools.

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