Special-needs schools connected to Morgan's Wonderland to close

Parent: 'Everbody's just kind of flabbergasted'

By Garrett Brnger - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Two special-needs schools connected to Morgan's Wonderland are shutting down as plans solidify for a new endeavor to help people with special needs.

The board of directors for CARE Inc., a nonprofit that oversees The Academy at Morgan's Wonderland and The Bridge at Morgan's Wonderland, has decided to close the schools, according to a news release.

Operations will continue as normal through the current semester, which ends in June.

The release also mentions future plans for the schools' current site next to the Morgan's Wonderland amusement park.

"The Academy and The Bridge have helped literally hundreds of students," said Bob McCullough, director of communications for Morgan's Wonderland. "Now, the board has identified an opportunity that might actually help thousands of special-needs individuals."

The nature of that opportunity is unclear, with neither the news release nor McCullough shedding light on any details. The spokesman said the idea is still "in the planning stages."

The Academy and The Bridge serve special-needs students between 12 and 24 years old, said McCullough, who estimated there are currently about 30 students and 15 faculty members.

The Academy was opened in 2011 by Gordon Hartman, his wife and other parents of students with special needs, according to the news release. The Bridge, according to its website, is a transition program "designed to prepare young adults for life after The Academy with a focus on vocational and daily living skills coupled with functional academics."

It is located on the same site as The Academy.

Hartman also founded neighboring Morgan's Wonderland, an amusement park that caters to visitors with special needs.

Mike Fletcher said he moved from Houston so his daughter, Taylor, could attend The Bridge program. Then, on Tuesday afternoon, Fletcher got an email about the schools closing.

"I think everybody's just kind of flabbergasted," Fletcher said.

"Like, if a college is going to close, or something else is going to close, you know, it's, like, 'Hey this is our last year' -- not our last four months. What's that all about?"

McCullough said they know that closing the schools will affect everyone.

"We hope by announcing this currently, everyone will be able to chart a new path, and hopefully everyone will be successful in their future endeavors," McCullough told KSAT.

Fletcher said he and other parents will find their kids a new home.

"If this does remain to be closed, we'll find another place," he said. "We'll do it real quick. We'll do whatever we have to for these kids."

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