Urban Science Academy parent on planned closure: 'It's not just four walls'
Boston Herald - 12/19/2018
Dec. 18--Urban Science Academy parent David Venter spoke with Herald reporter Taylor Pettaway about how the upcoming vote on the closing of the campus has impacted his son Joshua, who lives with autism. The Venters plan to be at Wednesday's School Committee hearing along with other families:
"He has only been there since September but off the bat he felt safe, and it's the first school to understand him. ... It's more than a school, it's not just four walls.
I finally thought I could relax at the end of seven schools and this craziness. At his last school, Joshua got beat up in class four times. I complained to the district and was told there was nothing I could do. It was horrific.
I was scared to send him to a new school. But they understand kids like Joshua at USA; this is the first time since Joshua has been in school that he has had friends. He's so popular."
David choked up as he described how Joshua went to his first school dance and was interacting with the other students.
"The teachers showed me some videos of him dancing and I was like, 'That is my son?' and it was the cutest thing I have ever seen.
He's happier because it's really inclusive, the kids can be themselves and that's important. Knowing who people are makes them closer and more empathetic, and that's not how it is at other schools.
He even wanted to join the football team, but if he played sports there was no way to get home, and so I was reluctant. I didn't want him to play. The coach came up to me and said, 'I have other kids with autism, so I got this.' The team paired him up with another kid who brought him home on the T. One day his partner wasn't there and he took it by himself. He could never do that before.
A year ago I hired a professional mentor to try and teach him how to use the T and he couldn't learn, but it was one of the other kids who finally taught him, and that says a lot about the community of kids where they can see him like a brother. ... I thought I could finally rest.
It's going to be an extremely difficult change for these types of kids who don't learn as quickly. Joshua has finally made friends, he likes his teachers and now he will have to do that all over again.
It doesn't matter if they move the program to a different school, but if it doesn't have that same environment then it is the same situation as before."
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