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Driftless Pass School currently offers an alternative to public school for students whose needs are difficult to meet in traditional public-school classrooms, even with support of accommodations and modifications. We have served and partnered with eight districts within La Crosse, Monroe, Vernon, and Crawford counties. Students who enroll at Driftless Pass may display challenging behaviors due to mental health needs, experienced trauma, Reaction Attachment Disorder or a diagnosis of Developmental Disability as well as autism spectrum disorders. Students may also have associated medical issues such as seizure disorder that can complicate the education program.

Driftless Pass School is separated into elementary, middle and high school rooms. In addition, there are transition opportunities where students, ranging from ages 14-21, work on functional life skills helping them prepare for future employment. Students participate in life skills such as cooking, bowling and volunteering at Clearwater Farm. Students also have opportunities to access programs in the community to serve their needs. They participate in an approved core curriculum, as well as art, and gym classes. Class sizes are very small, allowing a high level of one-to-one support by a licensed special education teacher and highly trained classroom support specialists.

All of our employees are required to be certified in Non-Violent Crisis Prevention and Intervention (CPI) annually, as well as CPR and First Aid. Catholic Charities has a CPI and CPR/First Aid trainer on staff who frequently offers training.  In addition, staff are trained in trauma informed care and active shooter training, HIPPA, mandated reporting, Comprehensive Community Services (CCS), Children’s Long-Term Waiver Support (CLTS Waiver), Autism, and the basics of Sign Language.

Driftless Pass observes all national holidays and follows the La Crosse Public Schools calendar which can be found on their website and can be printed. Cancelations, late starts and early releases for inclement weather follows each individual district’s policy.  If La Crosse School District closes, Driftless Pass is also closed.

Private pay is accepted at any time. Public enrollment must be approved for services by the school district or county funding human services department. Please contact your child’s teacher, case manager or social worker to get started. Please include a copy of the students IEP or contact Breta Lee at 608.519.8032 or 608.317.0553 for a registration form. The referral form can be found below.

My son DJ has been attending Driftless Pass, formerly known as Catholic Charities Day School, for at least 6 years. DJ is fifteen years old, but cognitively a toddler. He is partially blind and mostly non-verbal. The loving and caring commitment of the staff has made his learning experience such a positive one. He is challenged to learn new things and to meet the goals set for him in such a positive way. He has needed help in every aspect of his life from toilet training to eating to academics and activities of daily living. He has been involved in outings in the community and he is met at his pace and level with each step. His behaviors can be a challenge to the staff, but they have exceeded my expectations with how they continue to change and develop ways to help him. He has learned words, self-care skills and knows his schedule and what is expected of him. He rises to meet those expectations. He is building new relationships and learning to trust others in his life. I am so thankful to all staff at this school. I don't think that DJ would be where he is today without their commitment and caring and expertise.

Driftless Pass School has been a life changer for our family! Our daughter, Lucy, who was born with Down Syndrome, had been in public school since she was three years old. We never envisioned it any other way; nor, to be honest, was it anything that we were open to discussing. However, as Lucy entered her adolescent years, and experienced hormonal changes, she began to have an increase in “behaviors”. As a child with limited ability to express herself through language, she would often respond with aggression, self-injurious behavior and property destruction. The public school was not equipped to provide support, or meet Lucy’s individual needs, which is what led us to Driftless Pass. Our reluctance to explore an alternative school setting was strong. We can tell you today, it was the absolute best decision we have ever made for Lucy, as well as for our entire family. Driftless truly creates an environment and plan of care that focuses on the individual. The dedication to ensure that each staff member is not only trained on working with the student, in our case Lucy, they also take the time to really get to know the student they are working with. After a couple of weeks, it was apparent that Driftless made a point to share the positives on what occurred throughout the day, versus the negative. We had become so accustomed to hearing what went wrong in the day, we hadn’t realized how draining it was to have the focus only be on the negativism. Additionally, the impact that this had on Lucy was also apparent. Her “behaviors” substantially decreased in a relatively short period of time. In fact, at first, we held our breath wondering when the honeymoon would end. It’s not that her “behaviors” have completely been eliminated, but more so the response and the grace given has decreased the frequency.

Another component of Driftless Pass that has provided security is the fact that they offer After School Programming. Not only has this eased the burden of finding an alternative setting for her after school, but more importantly, because the same principals apply to the programming offered during the day, it has given us greater peace of mind.

We can’t tell you how grateful we are that Lucy attends Driftless Pass. To have an environment that meets our child where she is at is priceless. The only regret we have, truly, is that we didn’t give Driftless Pass a chance sooner; it really has been a godsend!
~Lisa Lund, Parent of Student