State cuts funding; autism school canceled in Tucson
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Author Topic: State cuts funding; autism school canceled in Tucson  (Read 2773 times)
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Crashs Wife
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« on: November 10, 2008, 07:01:05 am » News4 Tucson, AZ

Leslie Van Hoy has a son with autism. She tells News 4, "This was three years of people's lives, blood, sweat and tears put into opening this school and it was set to go." News 4 has been telling you about the Vanguard vision for well over a year.

It was supposed to be a centralized learning environment for children with autism. They'd get all their educational and therapeutic needs met right here.   Debra Benson is a speech-language pathologist.

She says, "We were having a very low student to teacher ratio so it was going to be very individualized."

Vanguard was supposed to open September 2nd, but state lawmakers pulled the plug on Arizona's scholarship for pupils with disabilities. The majority of the nine registered students needed that cash to attend. Without money, there's no Vanguard.   

It's a big loss for eight year old Billy Van Hoy and his mother, Leslie. He reads well but struggles with math. Leslie tells us, "Everybody's scrambling and trying to figure out where they're going to go and what they're going to do."

Cathy Curtin is the Executive Director of Vanguard. She says, "None of us are ready to walk away yet. We really feel that we have something to offer for these kids. We just need to figure out how to do it and make it affordable."

Vanguard administrators are working on a new plan. They're considering an after school program, or summer school, for kids with autism instead. In the meantime, lawmakers say the scholarship they sacrificed is being challenged in the courts as unconstitutional, because it used taxpayer dollars to fund private education.

Senator Paula Aboud sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee. She explains, "We just had to make the hard cuts and take care of the basic needs for Arizona. Some of the cuts that were made, that affected Vanguard, simply were unavoidable."

This affects more than the kids at Vanguard. It's impacting disabled students all over Arizona. Kids, like Billy, who struggle in public schools, are affected.

Debra Benson adds, "They can't communicate. They don't know how to deal with their peers, so this was going to be an environment that was going be safe for them and we were hoping they would blossom."

« Last Edit: November 10, 2008, 10:22:28 pm by Crashs Wife »


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Mike (AZBarbeque)
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« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2008, 07:50:36 am »

Ouch, that sucks Lisa...  Is there any sort of protest going on to help it out?

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« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2008, 08:57:51 am »

Mike boils his ribs....pass it on.
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