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updated: 8/27/2014 7:52 PM

Nonprofit Joseph Academy closes DuPage location

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  • Joseph Academy has moved out of DuPage County's former youth home along County Farm Road in Wheaton. The school at that location was closed because of a lack of enrollment.

       Joseph Academy has moved out of DuPage County's former youth home along County Farm Road in Wheaton. The school at that location was closed because of a lack of enrollment.
    SCOTT SANDERS | Staff Photographer, June 2011

 
 

A nonprofit school that helps young people with severe behavioral, emotional and learning disorders has moved out of DuPage County's former youth home just two years into a four-year lease agreement.

Joseph Academy officials this month told county board Chairman Dan Cronin they weren't able to sustain the program in the facility at 420 County Farm Road, Wheaton.

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The academy struggled to increase its enrollment, in part, because a lack of federal and state funding prevented school districts from getting the reimbursement money they needed to send students.

"The local districts in DuPage appreciated the care and education provided to area students with special needs, but the volume was not enough to sustain our facility," Mike Schack, Joseph Academy's founder and CEO, wrote in an Aug. 19 letter to Cronin.

Schack said the last few items would be removed by Friday from the 14,000-square-foot space the academy occupied.

"I am disappointed," Cronin said. "I was hopeful and initially very excited about the opportunity. I know this organization. They're virtuous people. They do very important work."

Joseph Academy -- which also has locations in Des Plaines, Melrose Park and Hometown -- opened its school in the former DuPage County Juvenile Detention Facility in 2012. The facility was closed in January of that year when DuPage started sending its youth detainees to Kane County.

The academy, which partners with school districts that refer students to its program, was hoping to have 18 students enrolled at the Wheaton location this year. In March, there were eight.

To give the academy time to boost enrollment, county officials decided earlier this year not to charge the school rent. That temporary arrangement was scheduled to end in September.

Cronin said it's unfortunate there are area students who won't be able to get the type of instruction Joseph Academy provides.

"They (school districts) can't afford to send the child out when they don't have the funding," he said.

Officials said they will decide later about what to do with the now-vacant space at the former youth home. Sections of the building are being used by the county's Office of Emergency Management and the sheriff's adult work release program.

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