In The Politics of Autism, I write about special education and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Hayley Munguia reports at The San Gabriel Valley Tribune
About 30 people flooded Claremont Unified’s school board meeting Thursday, all wearing green shirts with a photo of a 10-year-old Pasadena boy. Over the photo, the shirts said, “LET HIM LEARN.”
The boy is Christopher Frealy, a disabled student who’s zoned to Pasadena Unified. But PUSD doesn’t have an adequate facility or curriculum to cater to his disabilities, which impair his vision, speech, motor functions and mobility.
According to his mother, Anne Bigley, the only school in Southern California that can accommodate his needs is Claremont’s Danbury School. Frealy was set to attend the school this year, and Claremont Unified representatives personally assured Bigley that he would have a spot. But an apparent breakdown in communication between the two school districts has blocked his transfer.
Earlier, Munguia reported
Family friend Stuart Pfeifer read from an email that Claremont Unified Superintendent Jim Elsasser sent to Frealy’s supporters. It said that Elsasser could not comment on the specifics of the situation, but he noted in bold that “the permit process must be formalized by completion of the proper paperwork by the family and/or the requesting district” and that “filing the appropriate paperwork is a pre-requisite for admission to such a program.”
Pfeifer said, “Without saying so specifically, Dr. Elsasser seemed to be blaming a paperwork error for Christopher not being allowed to go to school. That’s unconscionable if that’s true, if that’s the real reason.”
Pfeifer was the last of Frealy’s supporters to speak. When he was finished, the crowd broke out in chants of, “Let him learn.”
Pasadena Unified offered to have Christopher attend McKinley School. But the campus has no elevator, and third grade classrooms are housed on the second floor. The boy’s parents say that makes it impossible for him to attend.
“Pasadena admits they don’t have a school or a proper curriculum for him,” Frealy said.
Bigley said it’s her son who will suffer if neither school district takes responsibility for his education.
“That’s the tragedy in this,” she said. “Because how does he get an education? He’s really smart. He deserves one.”