East Providence school switch uproots special needs students - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

East Providence school switch uproots special needs students

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By Abbey Niezgoda


It is a school shakeup in East Providence. Late Thursday, Oldham Elementary was ordered shut down for good at the end of the school year. The students have a place to go in the fall, but it is not that straightforward. They will take over another school nearby, forcing those students and teachers out.

Oldham was closed because the district flat out does not have the $2 million needed to fix the school. At first the plan was to move the students and staff to Waddington Elementary, an idea students and parents protested at a meeting last week.

Their voices were heard and their anger was enough to get the plan changed. Now Oldham students will get their own building at Meadowcrest Elementary. A plan that is met with mixed emotions from parents, but ultimately, a sense of relief.

"It's a better alternative than going to Waddington, they're not going to be crowded," Tara Wallace said.

However, it is creating a domino effect. The pre-k and special needs students from Meadowcrest will have to go to Waddington, changing their routine entirely.

 "Any way you look at it no one wins," parent Elisa Thibeault said. "Any child with a disability, be it severe or mild, stability is really important and key."

Thibeault's youngest boy Anthony receives special education services at Meadowcrest. She says she just found out about the change Monday and she still has so many unanswered questions.

"They have a special restroom facility, physical therapy rooms, all of that at Meadowcrest," Thibeault said. "They say that will be at Waddington too, but who is going to guarantee that?"

East Providence Superintendent Dr. John DeGoes says the Meadowcrest students will be given their own wing at Waddington, most likely on the first floor.

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