Thursday, March 17, 2011

On Staten Island, no classroom set aside for autistic 6th graders next year

From the NY Daily News:

Fifth-graders at a well-regarded Staten Island program for autistic kids are graduating from elementary school - and have no place to go next year.

The Education Department has failed to find sixth-grade space on Staten Island for the ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) Nest Program, parents charged.

"I don't know where my son would be without this program," said Denise Ingrassia, whose son Michael, 10, is a fifth-grader in the program at Public School 4.

The program places academically successful autistic children in small classes with general education students. Some 400 students are enrolled at 21 city schools.

The parents of a half-dozen fifth-graders in the program at PS 4 hope the children will be able to attend nearby Intermediate School 75 with general-ed classmates.

"Undermining one of the leading special education programs in our city will reverse the progress of their students," Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Councilman Vincent Ignizio (R-S.I.) wrote in a letter to Chancellor Cathie Black yesterday.

Education Department spokeswoman Barbara Morgan said officials "have been working . . . for the past several months to identify a location."