Attorney General approves new requirements for Gatton

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear has made the decision that Gatton Academy, located on WKU’s campus, will be required to comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Rebekah Alvey

On Sept. 22, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear submitted an opinion stating Gatton Academy and Craft Academy are required to comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, is a federal program applied at the state level. According to the opinion, IDEA ensures that all disabled children are able to receive a “free and appropriate public education,” that addresses their needs and helps prepare them for their future.

Beshear’s opinion was requested by Senator Julie Raque Adams from District 36, according to the released opinion.

If a state submits a plan to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Education with proof that these needs are being met, IDEA will provide the state with federal funding.

IDEA applies to students between the ages of three to 21, according to the U.S. DEA website.

Gatton Academy and Craft Academy are Kentucky schools for students in eleventh and twelfth grade and are considered high school students, despite being located on a college campus and attending college courses. Craft Academy is located at Morehead State University.

According to the opinion, Gatton Academy and Craft Academy require a disabled child to refuse a free and appropriate education in order to attend. Because students in the academy are enrolled in both a high school and a post secondary institution, the opinion states they are out of IDEA compliance.

At minimum, the opinion advises that students should receive the free and appropriate education at Gatton Academy or Craft Academy as they would at another school.

Gatton Academy was founded 10 years ago, in 2007, and operates on WKU’s campus, preparing high school students who are considering careers in science and mathematics. Students attending Gatton Academy live on campus and attend college courses at WKU.

Craft Academy opened in 2015 and is also a “dual-credit residential high school for academically exceptional Kentucky students,” according to their website. Like Gatton Academy students, Craft Academy students also live on campus and follow a college-level curriculum.

“Since Gatton’s founding ten years ago, we have been committed to our mission of providing Kentucky’s bright, highly motivated students a supportive environment in which to pursue advanced academic opportunities at the university level with the companionship of peers,” Lynette Breedlove, director of the Gatton Academy said in a statement. “We will continue to work towards this mission and prepare Kentucky’s young mathematicians and scientists for their infinite possibilities.”

According to Breedlove, the program will continue to align its goals and mission with Beshear’s opinion.

Reporter Rebekah Alvey can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].