It's been a while since I checked into MDC, but what a lovely suprise to find such a healthy SVS climate!
We are building an SVS type school at the moment in Japan. We are just laying the foundations for a "mini" practice building 1/3 the size of the final version. Needless to say, we have no real students yet, but those who are interested are here every weekend helping to build, my kids included, dig, drill and mix cement at the weekends. Soon we will cut and errect the steel frame, and take delivery of the straw bales for the walls. Sometimes they are just off in the forest, collecting fire wood for the outdoor wood stove, others chopping veg, or making "camp coffee". Otherwise, they are playing with the locals in the park that is right outside the front door
. I do most of the donkey work part time every day.
Last year we had a student from FL come for about a year before he graduated from his SVS model school. It was very cool to have him, and he could really "dig" that he was not going to get told anything by me. I think he really gained something by being away from home, away from the US. We talked at length (we had a year after all!) about the ins and outs of Dem Model, and the problems that can develop in schools that are underfunded or have weak idiological bedrock and leadership.
As for your situation, and SVS model schools, there is MUCH that I can say. The starting points are:
1) Before anything else, read "Free at Last".
2) Next... understand that a "good one" depends on the school (all subtly different) and your child. Age, type, previous ed experience or mistreatment. If they mesh, NP. If not, and there is another one nearby, try it. They are not all the same. Some schools neglect to offer welcome guildance to new children (eg detailing another child to "hold their hand" for a day or so, as it is not felt it is needed. Others have quite good "welcome" structures, and that changes too, over time!
3) Voice your fears, here or to the children and staff at the school. (especially the kids, if you can find one willing to listen) Remember, you are not here to argue. If you don't get it, pause, and mull it over. The key is really whether you own child gets it or not. That sometimes takes time.
Note that it is very unlikely that any school will have special needs functionality, (eg my kids are deeply Asperger and we have worked hard to ensure that there is a degree of social selfsufficiency), so a minimum of social capability is needed in your children.
Having said that, I can not think of a better place for a child to come to terms with a social envionment than a well run SVS model school, which is why we are making the effort here that we are.
Hope this helps