Our Mission in Catholic education is to welcome all of God's children to ensure our students, including those with disabilities, are invited to sit and have the same place at the table in our schools. Ensuring a Place at the Table: Serving Students with Disabilities in Catholic Schools discusses the importance of Catholic schools having an open disposition to serving students with disabilities (Boyle, 2018).
An open disposition means that just as our church baptizes and welcomes all of God's children as Catholics, our Catholic schools strive to welcome all God's children as students into our schools to the maximum extent each can with the resources available. The NCEA Brief: Exceptional Learners White Paper: One Spirit. One Body. An Agenda for Serving Students with Disabilities in Catholic Schools provides further insights on serving students with disabilities in Catholic schools (Boyle & Bernards, 2020).
As Catholics, we are called to celebrate the unique gifts of each child, which are a reflection of God's love. Pope Francis in his address To Participants in the Convention for Persons with Disabilities stresses that: "Dedication to persons with special needs is a sign of the Spirit. It serves as a test of our commitment to show mercy in welcoming others and to help the vulnerable to be fully a part of our communities" (Pope Francis, 2016, p. 47).
Our Support Team Education Plan (STEP) Program for the diocese is based on our Catholicism that we need to include all students regardless of disability and where their abilities are at. The USCCB document Welcome and Justice for Persons with Disabilities outlines that the "defense of the right to life implies the defense of all other rights which enable the individual with the disability to achieve the fullest measure of personal development of which he or she is capable. These include the right to equal opportunity in education" (USCCB, 1998).
All archdiocesan schools are Support Team Education Program (STEP) schools that serve and provide as much as possible for students to the extent possible with the resources available. Catholic schools, however, do not have the resources to provide special education. Schools consider the merits of a case of a student with a disability thoughtfully and individually and determine if the student with a disability can access the curriculum with minor adjustments to the educational program.