Parents of a 10-year-old boy suffering from severe dyslexia are fighting the Sayville School District to have him bussed to a charter school in the Hamptons because they say the district isn’t equipped to properly educate their son.
The parents, Bill and Kirsten Reddan, have been fighting the battle for their son, Aidan, since February, when the district held it’s first hearing on the matter, which will be decided by an impartial hearing officer.
Thursday was the fifteenth and final hearing involving the Reddans, their independent education advocate George Deabold, and Guercio & Guercio, the firm representing the district.
Before the 9:30 a.m. hearing, Reddan, a New York Fire Department captain, spoke to a group of fellow firefighters who rallied outside the Sayille administrative office in support of the family, holding signs admonishing superintendent Dr. Walter Schartner.
“Here we are, the fifteenth day of the hearing, and every time I see light at the end of the tunnel I realize it’s a freight train coming at me,” Reddan said into a crowd of two-dozen supporters.
Aidan, a fourth grader, has problems reading and his severe dyslexia is classified as a learning disability, according to his Individual Education Plan created by Sayville, his father said.
Aidan started to hate school, would repeatedly cry from frustration, and he “hated himself,” Reddan said in a letter to the Press.
Earlier this year, the Reddan’s removed Aidan from Cherry Avenue Elementary School and enrolled him at Children’s Development Center of the Hamptons.
During a Committee on Special Education meeting in October, the parents were notified that the school would provide transportation for Aidan to the charter school, they said.
“They agreed on this because they admitted that they did not have a program for him and thus they set up his Individual Education Plan (IEP) and a tentative transportation plan to send him to the CDCH,” Reddan wrote. “This was decided because the CDCH falls within the 50-mile limit as stated by NYS Special Education Law for children with disabilities.”
Shortly after, that offer was rescinded, according to the family, because the district said students can only be bussed up to 15 miles. The parents are arguing that the 15-mile limit doesn’t include children with learning disabilities. The charter school is 49 miles away from Reddan’s home, the family said.
According to the New York State Education Department, charter schools are considered non-public schools for the purpose of transportation. That means students attending charter schools within 15 miles of the charter school will receive transportation from the district of residence.
The district’s lawyer declined to comment for this story.
Deabold, the family advocate, is also charging that Aidan was being taught by a teacher’s aid, which is against state policy.
“In the last four years, the Sayville school district could not offer our son a proper education or proper placement in their school system,” Reddan said in the letter. “Frankly, for the last five years, they swept his needs under the rug and denied him an appropriate education all for the sake of saving a few dollars. This blatant disregard for his education gravely affected his emotional well-being. He digressed and regressed, under their watch.”