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Special Needs Pre-K Program on Chopping Block

160 Developmentally and Learning Disabled Students in Monroe County are at Risk of Losing Pre-K Program.
Preschool programs statewide that integrate learning and developmentally disabled students into traditional classrooms are on the chopping block. 
Come next fall, parents of special needs students preparing for kindergarten will struggle to find a place for their kids to learn.
       
New York State is slated to cut programs that serve about 160 learning disabled children here in Monroe County.
The state says the programs cost too much.  A Scottsville father and the school district say they will not go down without a fight.

Ms. Bartell's Pre-K class at Ivan Green Elementary School in Irondrequoit, helps children of all abilities, prepare for kindergarten.

Come next fall, this program that welcomes developmentally challenged children along with traditional students will not exist.

" I think as a team, throughout BOCES, we're all devastated that the program is not able to continue due to funding.  Because we on a day to day basis, see the changes and the success stories of our kids to move on to go back to their home school district and are successful in school," said Ann Nau, Assistant Principal, Ivan Green Elementary School.

Four year old Drake Pelton is one of those success stories.  Doctors diagnosed drake with autism at two years old.

"Unless you've experienced it, you can't imagine what it's like to have a child look past you, I guess is the best way to describe it," said Bob Pelton, Drake Pelton's father.

Drake's parents enrolled him in Ms. Bartell's classroom.  They've watched him thrive ever since.

"Having a program like this gives him an opportunity to go to school.  To socialize with kids.  Our fear was, without it, we'd have to put him in a daycare center.  Ya know, try to find the right daycare center that's equipped to handle autistic children," said Pelton.

 "Where would Drake be without it?" asked Amy Young, News 8 Reporter.   "I don't even want to think about it. And that's all I'll say about that," said Pelton.

Drake will graduate from the program in the spring.   The Peltons want to save the program so that other parents can witness their children's growth, physically and developmentally.

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