For Families

At Dearborn, we understand that if you are considering our school, your student’s educational path may not have been a smooth one up to this point. We aim to make the admissions process as streamlined and stress-free as possible, whether your student has been referred to Dearborn Academy from the school district, or you are considering the private-pay option. 


Is Dearborn the Right Fit for Your Child?

Most of our referrals come via public schools. This means that the student’s IEP team has agreed that the district cannot provide the services and programming that the student requires and will pay for an out-of-district school, like Dearborn Academy, to provide those services and programming. Once the student has a signed IEP for an out-of-district placement, the district representative sends a referral packet to our admissions team for our consideration. 


Each Dearborn Academy student’s success starts with the admissions process and determining if Dearborn is the right setting for them: 


  • Can we meet the student’s academic, social, and emotional needs?
  • Can the student thrive here?
  • Are we a good fit? 

In order to answer these questions, we review the following referral documents, provided by the district with caregiver permission:


  • IEP and recent progress reports
  • Evaluations, including but not limited to:
    • Psychological, neuropsychological, academic, speech and language, occupational, transitional, etc.
  • Transcripts and report cards
  • MCAS scores
  • Hospital discharge summaries, when relevant
  • Any other documentation deemed relevant to share in order to provide our admissions team with information to help us determine fit

Our admissions team reviews referral packets within 48 hours and informs the district representative that either:


  1. We would like to invite the student for a tour and interview.
  2. We are not able to meet the student’s needs.
  3. We have one or more questions that we need answered prior to making a decision about whether to proceed with the referral. 

Tour and Interview

When we have determined that we may be a good fit for the student, we are able to offer a tour and interview within five school days. After the tour and interview, if the student, caregivers and our team feel that Dearborn Academy could be a match, the student is invited to spend all or part of a school day with us to get a better sense about whether they will feel great coming to school here – and so that we can decide whether we can do our part to make that happen. Within 48 hours of the visit day, a member of our admissions team informs the district about whether we can offer a spot at Dearborn Academy. 

After You’re Accepted

Once a student has been accepted, our team will coordinate with the district and with you to complete any needed IEP paperwork, arrange for transportation and ensure a smooth transition. The student’s clinician and homeroom teacher call the student and caregiver prior to the student’s first day to:


  • introduce themselves (often via FaceTime so that we can show our friendly faces!),

  • review the student’s first-day schedule,

  • and answer any questions the student has before day one.


Our concise admissions process timeline assures that there is no extended interruption in the student’s education – while allowing the initiating school district, prospective family and Dearborn staff to assess the opportunity for a positive experience.


Please don’t hesitate to contact us with specific questions or for general guidance:


Julie Manning, Admissions Coordinator
575 Washington Street
Newton, MA 02458
Phone: 781.641.5992
Fax: 781.641.5997

More Answers Below

Can my student start even after the beginning of the school year?

Yes! If your student is a fit for Dearborn Academy and we have an opening, we do our best to have them start school with us as soon as possible. Each decision is made collaboratively with the family and district.

Can I visit the school without a school district referral?

We work collaboratively with public school districts in order to provide excellent, coordinated services for students. That starts with a strong relationship. Whenever a caregiver is considering Dearborn Academy as an out-of-district school for their student, we require one of the following:


  • A formal referral in the form of a packet or other notice to our admissions team that the district is referring the student for out-of-district placement.

  • In the circumstance where a family is considering privately paying for Dearborn Academy, we contact the district special education office to inform them of the private pay request prior to considering the referral.