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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.”

linda jenkins June 12, 2012 at 01:32 PM
I personally celebrate Bellefaire School .if it had not been an alternative for my children with Bipolar,Autism,and ADHD and being under the IEP especially designed for the capability and the reality of their limitations ,but most of all making it possible and important to have an Education.Thank you Bellefaire for all you've done to ensure my child to get a Diploma and go even further in life.I celebrate Bellefaire,Teachers,Counselors and the Principals .Because of your programs and input I have two Graduates despite their diagnois ,you were equipped to handle every situation or intervention.Thank you Bellefaire .Have a great day!
Michelle Simakis (Editor) June 12, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Thanks for sharing this, Linda.
Garry Kanter June 12, 2012 at 11:15 PM
I don't get this "locked cottages" thing. I raised the same point with the cleveland.com article. The term seems barbaric, is my point.
Garry Kanter June 12, 2012 at 11:16 PM
At least you guys indicate the source of that term. Still, I gotta wonder...
Michelle Simakis (Editor) June 13, 2012 at 02:50 AM
Johnston called them "locked cottages" but it's a term used throughout Bellefaire JCB. I did a quick search and found it in several places but not sure the original source.
Mrs Davis June 13, 2012 at 05:26 AM
I love bellfare and appreciate everything you have done for my son with ADHD he will be graudurating in June 3013 I thank the staff and security for making it a safe place for my son to go i really wish you weren't closing down because you guys are a great thing for the kids with disabilities
linda jenkins June 13, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Mrs.Davis,I wish Bellefaire was'nt closing too,I took advantage of many programs for my kids with disabilities none of them compared to the level of concern and involvement for my child to succeed in society,there are no locked cottages ,however that are classrooms for the kids that require more intense care,you would have to be in the shoes of a parent who is experiencing this on going fight for our kids to get an education without the stigma and lack of knowledge from society .What is the alternative for the kids that need this level of care while achieving the ability and capability of getting an education despite their diagnois .Have a great day !
Juliana Sadock Savino August 08, 2012 at 04:48 PM
What are you still wondering about? Let me fill you in a little. The locked cottages are inpatient cottages for young people with severe emotional disturbance. The student/teacher ratio is close to 1/1, and, no the students cannot leave the building on their own, in fact they are escorted in the halls until they've earned a level of autonomy (more about that in a few sentences). They are never left unattended. I have subbed in both the inpatient school and the day school that will be closed. Bellefaire's staff is the greatest. They are firm and kind. Their approach is based on allowing students to graduate up to higher levels of autonomy and leadership by meeting behavior goals. It would be good if news organizations would interview some Bellefaire attendees/graduates for their insights/reactions.
linda jenkins August 13, 2012 at 05:45 AM
When the doors or Bellfaire closes,there will be many doors closing to our special need children. There will be a lot of programs and opportunities closed as well. As far as the locked cottages we prefered to use the term the closed cottage .Unfortuately some of the children needed to be in an environment that was monitored to keep themselves safe as well as their peers.Bellfaire offered excellent services for my family.The closing of Bellaire will also affect three teachers,one conselor and a security guard ,leaving them unemployed,they are all Parents of some of my GodChildren .What is the alternative ?,
Tina Haldiman December 06, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Any current or past families helped by Bellefaire School should join the Save Bellefaire School group on Facebook. Help us explore our options for special needs students.
alexander henthorn March 25, 2013 at 03:56 PM
hello mrs davis its alex henthorn from tlp i was there in the year 2004 you prbbaly dont rember me i was a studnet there i am now turning 26 in june. its sad seeing this happen due to money and more issues. this school is truley amazing . alexander henthorn you can email me at dancetrance2012@aol.com
Elaine Curin May 25, 2013 at 03:32 PM
I lived at Bellefaire from 1985 until 1987 and I have to say...it was the BEST experience in my life! I will never forget the staff and friends I made at Bellefaire. I started out in cottage #9 an open all girls cottage and for me, it was just too much freedom and I really screwed up. I could have been kicked out, but they gave me the opportunity to try their only locked cottage back then cottage #10 co-ed. It was they best decision they could have allowed me to make and I did extremely well. I slowly earned privileges back and was able to do many things as I got progressively better. We experienced so many different activities that helped to teach us how to build trust as a group and as individuals. We did the high and low ropes courses at George Williams College, went white water rafting in West Virginia, went camping and Repelling in the Alleghenies, we went to Niagara Falls on the Canadian side, and camping regularly at the Lucky "A" Ranch in Pennsylvania, where I did some of my most intense treatment by sharing and crying in front of an open fire, which in turn was named "The Elaine Curin memorial Campfire Pit", after me:) Which was such an Honor. I don't know if they do any of those things, or if the pit is still named after me, but, without Bellefaire for me back then, God only knows where I would have been. I'm on Facebook and have 3 staff from Bellefaire as friends. Thank you Bellefaire for giving me the tools to live a better life today. I'll never forget you!!!
Elaine Curin May 25, 2013 at 03:37 PM
I wanted to add one more thing about my age at the time I lived there. I was 15 when I started living there and 17 when I left and I am 43 years old with two grown children of my own. And again....My experience at Bellefaire was one of the best memories of my life to this day!!!
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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