Apponequet cuts special needs program

Students in a special needs program are no longer welcome at Apponequet Regional High School in the Freetown-Lakeville Regional School District.

The program has been cut because administrators say teachers have failed to adequately educate them.

"I don't see why there isn't an adequate teacher to be found anywhere," parent Heather Botelho said Tuesday.

Botelho's son, Danny, has attention deficit disorder and a processing disorder. He's one of the 12 students now being forced out. The children have gone through three teachers in a year-and-a-half. Administrators fired all three.

Parents were given a two-and-a-half week warning that they needed to enroll elsewhere. For Danny, that will likely mean a 30-minute commute to his new school.

One of many disputes at hand is timing. Parents argue that two-and-a-half weeks is not enough time. Administrators say when something is wrong they can't act quickly enough.

"If you have someone in the district that shouldn't be in front of students you don't say, 'Let me wait.' You have to do it," Superintendent Christine Nash said.

Nash said she sympathizes with parents but she stands by her decision. She said hiring a new teacher in the middle of the year would mean months without a permanent solution and that there's no guarantee the new teacher would last.

"The easy way out is to say nothing, to let it go status quo. We didn't do that," Nash said.

Botelho said these are the children who don't handle change well. She fears moving her son will keep him from graduating down the line. But for the time being she has no other choice.