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Bellefaire School Will Close in 2013

The CH-UH School Board voted to close the school at the end of the 2012-2013 school year at its regular meeting Tuesday.

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights School Board voted to close by the end of the 2012-2013 school year at its regular meeting Tuesday, June 5.

Jeffrey Johnston, director of student services, cited cost and declining enrollment as the primary reasons administrators recommended the board vote to close the school.

The district leases the school, which houses programs for students in fifth through 12th grade with emotional and behavioral needs. The building in University Heights is on the Bellefaire JCB site, which provides behavioral health, education and prevention services for children, adolescents and their families, according to its website.

There are 50 to 55 students in the main school and 25 to 30 in the Intensive Care Unit, or what Johnston called the “locked cottage." Students live and attend classes in the cottage.

Of the about 50 students in the main school, 16 are from districts outside of CH-UH, he said. The school serves CH-UH and surrounding areas such as Shaker Heights, South Euclid, Lyndhurst and Warrensville. Enrollment varies as some students attend Bellefaire for all of their middle school and high school years while others only go for several weeks, months or one year. Fifty-three of the district's staff work there.

Johnston said there were also concerns about the fact students must transition between classes outside of the building and the amount of mental health services available for students “despite tremendous efforts by our staff.”

School Board Vice President Eric Coble asked about the plans for staff and students once it closed.

Johnston said at the meeting that some staff would continue to serve the 20 or so students in the locked cottage.

“Decisions regarding placement of students (in the main building) will be made through the IEP (Individualized Education Program) process in partnership with the parents and guardians,” Johnston said. “Options will include a return to district schools, the Options Program (at the ) or placement in specialized programs such as the Positive Education Program.”

Johnston spoke about the expertise of the staff and said the district must develop a plan for them as well.

“We’ve got to celebrate Bellefaire. We’ve got to celebrate the work these folks have done. We should have a plan for staff, we should have a plan for our students … and we should have a plan for the locked cottage.”

Elaine Curin May 25, 2013 at 03:44 PM
Please read my new comment below. I lived in both the "open" and "locked" cottages back in 1985-1987 and had the best experience of my life at Bellefaire. My name is Elaine Curin and if you have any questions you can email me @ lainnygirl@gmail.com
Juliana Sadock Savino May 25, 2013 at 05:15 PM
Thank you Elaine. There is no better way to know about Bellefaire than to hear from its alumni. Next time I walk past the fire pit, with its beautiful mosaic and glass orbs, I will think of you. Wishing you every happiness.
Mela Trimble March 20, 2014 at 07:03 PM
I lived in Cottage #9 in 1986, 1987, & transferred to a different group home in 1988. I am 42yo now & memories for me at this place weren't all that great since I was in "seclusion room" lock down. I HATED THIS PLACE... Pretty much left me with emotional scars & trust issues I still deal with as an adult. Maybe for some kids it's a good place for them to be. For me, I was labeled & counselors, psychiatrists, etc... Didn't believe me when I said I was raped... I was transferred to a Place for troubled teens who were pregnant, still.... Everyone thought I was lying about my rape. You know what? I carried out my pregnancy, had my baby at age 15yo & I had him naturally. Since I was a ward of the state & labeled as a troubled teen, I was assumed to be such a terrible child & I wasn't! Nurses at the hospital treated me like a criminal 'cause I was so young. When I asked for pain meds, they told me that "pain was a really good thing for me to feel & maybe next time before I let some boy in my pants I might think about this pain!" Bellefaire sucked & let it close!! Do you know what it's like to be a virgin. Get raped, go home to home 'cause your a ward of the state?, later when my baby grew up & Asked at age 13yo ...who is my dad?" I have to tell him he is a product of rape!!! No thanks to BELLEFAIRE, close their dang doors!
Mela Trimble March 23, 2014 at 03:46 PM
I don't know who this "Elaine" is & furthermore, I don't believe that there were out of state field trips! There were some local field trips & that's about it. You paint a picture as if this place was some sort of retreat or fun vacation home. It wasn't that at all!

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