Catholic school in Niles to become first in Illinois to offer special education program

Like many Catholic parents, Kevin and Elaine Burke wanted their son to attend a high school that combined rigorous academics for the mind with spiritual formation for the soul. But their son Ryan, 15, has Down syndrome, and the Burkes soon discovered that no Catholic high school in Illinois offered special education programs. Now, thanks in part to the Burkes, the state’s first Catholic high school program for special-needs students will begin in August at Notre Dame High School for Boys in Niles. The program is named for and partially funded by Chicago Ald. Ed Burke and his wife, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke-no relation to Ryan’s parents.