Amity Superintendent of Schools John Brady said he is frustrated and shocked. His dilemma began last year when the district — which serves Bethany, Orange and Woodbridge — received a letter from the state Department of Education. The state told Amity it has too many white students who are diagnosed as autistic when compared to other racial subgroups. Amity last year had 38 white autistic students, one Asian and one black.
Amity and Vernon are the only two school systems in the state and among only a handful nationwide to have a “significant disproportionate” amount of white autistic students, state officials said.
Such a classification requires the district to divert 15 percent of its Individual with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, federal funds, or $67,000 in Amity’s case this year, toward programs designed to reduce those numbers.
The Amity district has two middle schools and a high school. Autism is usually diagnosed early in a child’s life, long before middle and high school.
Brady said Amity has a 90 percent white student population so it makes sense a majority of their students with autism would be white.
“The state doesn’t look at extenuating circumstances,” Brady said. “We were put on notice, but (we) told them this cannot be solved. Someone wants us to magically reduce the number of Caucasians at Amity with autism. We can’t do that.”
More here on federal regulations regarding disproportionality.