Why Doesn’t Greg Gianforte’s Petra Academy Welcome Students with Disabilities?


While conservative groups, most of them backed financially by Greg Gianforte, continue to press the case that the state should violate the Montana Constitution and permit public funds to be spent on private, religious education, another problematic element of the private school agenda has escaped serious scrutiny: that many of those private schools not only have restrictive covenants that would restrict attendance based on religious beliefs, but also exclude students with disabilities.

It would be fair to say that Bozeman’s Petra Academy likely would not exist, and certainly would not exist in its current form, without the involvement of Greg Gianforte. He served as the chairman of its board from 2003, and has personally funded many of the school’s facilities and programs.

The application for Petra Academy contains a section one that certainly seems designed to permit discrimination against students with disabilities or behavioral issues:

Petra Academy is not staffed to handle students with severe learning disabilities or those who have trouble behaviorally. For your child’s best interest, please be candid when you answer the following questions. (If more than one child is applying please consider each one when answering.) If you answer ‘yes’ to 13-20, please explain below. Further elaboration of your answers may be required during an interview.

The application then goes on to ask a series of questions about the students, asking if they have been diagnosed with ADHD, have seen a psychiatrist, or received any special education services. Imagine the outrage if a public school used those questions as screening tools to prohibit students with disabilities from attending.

Don Pogreba

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