Pepin Academies, an institution that educates students with learning disabilities, is accepting applications for its new charter school location in Pasco County.
The school, which will begin classes Aug. 18, serves students who have learning or learning-related disabilities.
The Pepin Academies Inc. of Pasco County has been receiving applications from all over Pasco County, and is open to students from outside Pasco County as well, if the parents receive the necessary “out-of-county” paperwork from the district where their child lives.
The school, which was founded in 1999, already has two locations in Hillsborough County — one on Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa, and the other in Riverview.
Principal Celeste Keller, an educator with decades of experience, will lead the school. She’s been at Pepin for more than nine years, serving as director of the school’s elementary school in Hillsborough, director of its transition school for 18-to-22 year-olds, and most recently, as director of student services.
The Pasco County School Board approved a 15-year charter contract with Pepin Academies, based on its nonprofit status, its track record in Hillsborough, and its intention to secure funding for a permanent building. If substantial progress isn’t made to secure the funding for the school building, the school board could reduce the term of the charter to a maximum of five years, according to a board action taken Feb. 18.
Patty O’ Brien of Zephyrhills said her daughter Paige, 14, has attended Pepin’s school in Hillsborough, but will make the switch to the Pasco location.
“I’m looking forward to this for her because she’s very excited about this new school,” O’Brien said. “I’m very happy with Pepin.”
O’ Brien noted the school concentrates on what her daughter is able to do and builds on that. That wasn’t true in St. Louis, where the family used to live, she added.
By acknowledging her daughter’s strengths, the school has helped her daughter build a sense of self-confidence, O’Brien said, noting her daughter has many challenges. She’s hearing impaired, has autism and has attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity.
The tuition-free charter school in Pasco initially will operate out of a leased space at 9750 Little Road in New Port Richey. That building has a maximum capacity for 325 students. The school will serve students in third through 10th grade. It will add additional years as it continues operations, but has no current plans to teach children younger than third grade.
The school does not provide transportation, but it will help parents arrange carpools.
In Hillsborough, the school works with Ozzie Saez with Kids Door to Door. Saez currently provides pick-up and drop-off services for some parents. There is a fee, and the family contacts Saez directly to set it up.
Students attending Pepin must have a learning disability which may include: Asperger syndrome, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity, educable mentally handicapped, pervasive development delay, or a medical condition that affects learning, such as Tourette syndrome.
Pepin offers students an opportunity to seek a standard or special diploma.
The school’s philosophy focuses education not only on students’ academic needs, but also on their social and emotional needs. Besides accepting student applications, it also is accepting for teaching and staff positions.
To find out more about those positions, check Pepin’s website at PepinAcademies.com.
Published May 14, 2014