End Discrimination of Autistic Kids in District 30
This petition made change with 639 supporters!
The NYC DOE has denied parents an ASD Nest program for middle school in District 30, claiming that there is no demand for such a program in the district. ASD Nest is an inclusive classroom model where children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) learn alongside typically developing peers. An ASD Nest middle school classroom requires only 5 students with autism and offers 20 seats to general education students.
The NYC DOE’s position that there is no demand for an ASD Nest middle school is an outright lie.
- There is a waitlist beyond the 30 ASD Nest seats in District 30's elementary program.
- Kids are already being placed in ASD Nest elementary programs outside the district due to lack of available Nest seats in District 30.
- National statistics' claim that approximately 1.5% of all children have ASD. Out of 3,000 rising 6th graders in District 30, there are many rising 6th graders who would be potential candidates for ASD Nest beyond the waitlist.
The NYC DOE knows that there is a demand for an ASD Nest middle school program in District 30 and is refusing to put one in District 30.
Instead, while parents of general education students get to choose from all of the middle school options within District 30, parents of students with autism who live in District 30 have no options to continue the ASD Nest program in District 30. This directly contradicts section 200.13 of the Regulations from the NY State Commissioner of Education, stating “all school districts are required to furnish appropriate educational programs for students with autism from the date they become eligible for a free appropriate public education until they obtain a high school diploma.”
Moreover, when District 30 parents found a middle school interested and willing to host the ASD Nest program, Superintendent Philip Composto rejected the request. Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced in her Equity and Excellence for All, a plan to bring greater diversity to the city’s schools, including recommending increased access to middle schools for students with disabilities. Superintendent Composto and the NYC DOE’s decision to ignore the demand in District 30 breaks that promise.
Only 4 middle schools offer the ASD NEST program in Queens—3 are in District 25 (East Flushing/Kew Gardens Hills) and 1 is in District 27 (Far Rockaway). District 30 ASD Nest students are facing unreasonably long commute times, often on buses without air conditioning. Groups like IncludeNYC, Parents to Improve School Transportation NYC, and Public Advocate Letitia James have well documented problems with the specialized transportation provided by the NYC Office of Pupil Transportation. Plus, buses pick up and drop off at multiple schools with multiple start/end times, requiring students to wait for other students to be picked up and dropped off at different sites while they wait in their seats. This can mean that the most vulnerable kids often spend HOURS on a bus for even the shortest ride. The funding for such long commutes could be easily used to create more local options.
In District 30, when children with ASD who are able to perform with their typically developing peers academically are bussed off to another district because no program exists to support them, that is discrimination. Worse, restricting access to students with autism in this way violates the American with Disabilities Act and the 504 Rehabilitation Act. Our children deserve better.
We demand that the NYC DOE place an ASD Nest program in a District 30 middle school for the 2018-2019 school year.
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