In the mid 1940’s, community leaders in Spartanburg recognized the need for persons with disabilities to receive specialized services and began developing some special programs to serve these citizens. In the 1960’s, the local School for the Handicapped opened with just one teacher and three students.
The Charles Lea Center opened two new schools for special needs children in August 1971. The McCarthy School served children with mental and physical disabilities. It was named after Lawrence D. McCarthy, the former principal for the School for the Handicapped. The Teszler School, named after benefactor Andrew Teszler, served children with emotional and learning disabilities. Although both schools were housed in the Charles Lea Center, they were officially under the supervision of Spartanburg School District Seven.
In the fall of 2003, McCarthy Teszler School opened a new school building and a new era of service to children with special needs. The McCarthy Teszler School programs, with active involvement of home, community, and Spartanburg County School Districts, provides a unique educational environment for students with special needs that assures the development of knowledge and skills necessary to meet present and future challenges.