Rep. Breen Files Legislation to Help Local School for Autistic Children

Soaring Eagle Academy is an Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)-approved school in Lombard that caters to the needs of autistic students. State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) is taking steps to grant the school the ability to transport students in grades K-12 to educational school activities. 

Breen filed an amendment to HB 2040 on Monday, after learning that existing law only provides for the transport of Soaring Eagle students in grades 9-12. “This is an ISBE-approved school that caters to the needs of students with unique learning needs,” said Breen. “The school has their own bus, but current law limits their ability to transport younger students. My amendatory language to HB 2040 would expand the transportation availability to also include K-8 students.” 

Soaring Eagle Academy was founded by speech language pathologists, Linda Cervenka, Michele Ricamato and Deanna Tyrpak, who collectively have more than 65 years of experience serving children with special needs and their families. They worked with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to determine the guidelines for opening a non-public therapeutic day school, and develop programming, policies, staff requirements and the curriculum, all to meet the standards set by ISBE. The school opened its doors in 2010 to K-8 students, and added a high school transition program for students ages 15-21 in 2011. 

“The current law prohibits us from transporting students younger than 9th grade in our multi-function school activity bus for curricular activities, although many districts arrange for even our youngest students to be transported to and from school on the same type of vehicle,” said Tyrpak, a founder of the school who also serves as the executive director. “The passage of this bill will give us the flexibility to allow our students the opportunity to explore curriculum-related, vocational and recreational opportunities within the community with the support of our staff based on their developmental readiness even before they reach 9th grade. It’s not only an advantage for the students, but also a more efficient use of funds to use the bus we already own rather than incurring the expense of chartering a bus.” 

Soaring Eagle Academy is a safe and nurturing environment where each student and family, teacher and therapist, and other professionals from the community have the opportunity to work together to honor the abilities of every child. Together, they respect, embrace and empower students as they guide, learn and teach. Students are cared for physically, intellectually, socially and emotionally while engaged in meaningful learning.

Breen said it was a pleasure to work with the devoted staff from Soaring Eagle Academy to formulate the language included in HB 2040. “I recently visited this school and was incredibly impressed by the dedication of the staff,” Breen added. “They seek to provide an academic and social learning environment for students with special needs that supports their individual strengths and learning styles, helping each individual student reach their potential as a lifelong learner and contributing member of the community.”