Meseret Haile had run out of choices. Her 12-year-old son, Leoul, who’s autistic and nonverbal, was stuck in Seattle Children’s Hospital for nearly eight months. After several violent episodes at home, he couldn’t safely return to his school, and no other facilities would take him.
Except for one — halfway across the country, in Wichita, Kansas. It was called Heartspring, a residential facility and school for kids with developmental disabilities. The Bellevue School District, where Haile’s son previously attended, would pay roughly $300,000 a year to send him there.