Lewiston, Maine – A public school in Lewiston is about to expand their classes for students with autism to accommodate 17 new students who have been attending more expensive programs. Special Ed Director Jill Hastings delivered the exciting news to Lewiston School Committee last week.
The programs’s 20 students will be split up into three small classrooms with a one-on-one student to teacher ratio. Two classes will be held at Geiger Elementary with the third being held at Lewiston Middle School. As Hastings told the Sun Journal on Monday, Hastings said
“I’m excited. Some of you may remember a time when students with disabilities weren’t allowed in public schools at all.”
She then recalled seeing her mother drive a little girl with cerebral palsy to a rehab center every week. She was eight then, and wondered why the little girl could not attend school. Her mother said,
“Because kids with handicaps can’t come to school.”
Thankfully, the laws have changed. Hastings continued
“We now have a mandate that every student is entitled to a free, appropriate education in the least restrictive environment.”
Newly hired Behavior analyst Cherie LaFlamme is happy that public schools are finally getting the right classes. According to her, kids can benefit from mingling with more neurodiverse peers. It gives both sides a chance to learn from each other.
Once the classes are up and running smoothly Superintendent Bill Webster projects it will save the school system a minimum of $20,000 per student per year.
More information can be read in the article by Bonnie Washuk on the Sunjournal.com here.
Contributed by Audrey L. Hollingshead