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Safe Harbor School —
Meeting Every Student's Unique Needs

Safe Harbor School is the onsite, non-public school that serves youth receiving treatment at Indian Oaks Academy. Safe Harbor School also provides an educational experience for those students who don't participate in Indian Oaks' residential treatment programs, but have been unsuccessful in achieving academic potential in their current school district.

We serve grade levels 5-12, and students participate in a curriculum that is tailored to their unique needs and current grade level. Safe Harbor School provides a special education curriculum throughout a highly structured, year-round school year.

We believe that all students are capable of academic achievement, regardless of their history, mental health diagnosis, or their past school experiences. It is our job to provide a new educational experience that meets the students on their level and supports them to move toward their newly discovered potential as a lifelong learner.

  • Safe Harbor School is accredited by the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement, and approved by the Illinois State Board of Education. Through this accreditation, credits can transfer to any school upon a client's discharge.
  • School Administrator Mary Shaffer is Type 75-certified and supervises educational procedures, policies, and personnel on-site. She has a Master's degree in School Administration, along with a Special Education endorsement.
  • Our staff is comprised of 15 certified and 14 non-certified personnel. Teaching staff are Special Education-certified and licensed by the Illinois Department of Education. Most hold Master's degrees. Our teaching staff includes the following experts:
    • Music Therapist
    • Vocational Manager
    • Behavior Specialists
    • Social Worker
    • Rtl Curriculum Coordinator
    • Assistant Principal
    • Principal
  • Courses are taught with curriculum that is linked to the new Common Core Learning Standards. All DCFS residents follow the graduation requirements for their home school district.
  • Middle school courses include Language Arts, Pre-Algebra, Algebra, Science, and Social Studies.
  • High school courses include English 9-12, Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Geometry, Discrete Math, Physical Education, Health, Biology, Integrated Science, Physical Science, Environmental Science, World History, U.S. Government, U.S. History, Economics, Art, Computer Applications, Writing, Career Explorations, Life Skills, Music, Industrial Arts, and Child Development.
  • Curriculum is tailored to each student's unique needs and grade level, is aligned with state and common core standards, and includes the I-SAT and PSAE exams. Students follow the graduation requirements of their home school district; they also receive instruction in study skills, drug and alcohol prevention, and sexuality. GED studies are also offered.
  • Classroom placement is determined by each student's age, program, and current credit level in school.
  • Classroom ratio is maintained at 1 teacher t every 5 students, as required by the Illinois State Board of Education.
  • Special Education courses are offered at Safe Harbor School, and clinical support is provided by the treatment team. Safe Harbor School serves students with a variety of needs and diagnoses, cognitive disabilities, learning disabilities, emotional disabilities, and other heath impairments. All of these are addressed within our highly structured school program, where the emphasis is on the whole student.
  • Education and supply costs are covered by the per diem rate through the Illinois State Board of Education.
  • Family Involvement is important to all students' academic and behavioral success. Parents are encouraged to communicate with school staff at any time. Students who are DCFS wards are appointed an educational surrogate parent upon admission. This person attends all IEP meetings to address concerns regarding academics and behavior.
  • Extracurricular activities are offered to all Safe Harbor students through the IAA intramural program.
  • Vocational training is offered through the Vocational Training Department to students at Safe Harbor School. Students either work in the community or on campus. During their stay, youth are given the opportunity to job shadow and learn many aspects of various jobs. Work opportunities include mowing lawns, painting, working in the local food pantry, and working with Habitat for Humanity.
  • Education and transfer credits are available to all students at Safe Harbor school. High school students can earn 3.5 credits per semester, and all credits received prior to attending Safe Harbor transfer in. The summer session is used for credit redemption.
  • Community school transition is based upon each student's behaviors, academic performance, and advancement through treatment. This process usually begins when a student is in Phase II of treatment. The transition can be part-time or all-day. The team will decide which least-restrictive environment will best meet the student's needs.
  • Experiential college courses are available to students when they reach a point during their senior year where only a few credits are needed for graduation. At that point, students may be enrolled in the local community college, and these credits become dual credits.
  • Disciplinary concerns are handled through the school office by the school administration. Each situation is handled on an individual case. The school administration works with the treatment team as needed to help determine the best outcome for each situation.
  • Students can file educational grievances at any time during their education at Safe Harbor School if they feel that they have not been treated fairly.
  • Graduation is based upon each student's home school district's graduation requirements. Graduates receive a diploma from their home school district and participate in a campus graduation ceremony at the end of the second semester, usually in May.
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