SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — Carey Fudge’s son Malik is one of 78 students from a dozen districts that gets taught through the Northern Rhode Island Collaborative (NRIC).
The nonprofit organization is catered toward special education students. Fudge said its become a home for her son where he continues to grow and genuinely loves going to school.
“He has thrived, excelled, there’s no judgment. They meet him where he’s at and also challenge him,” she said.
But now, she and other parents are concerned that all those students could be forced out of their classrooms at the end of the school year.
Last Wednesday, NRIC staff received a letter saying there will be a board meeting to consider “personnel actions, including layoffs and elimination of positions,” as well as the possibility of dissolving the program altogether.
“Honestly, my immediate reaction was tears,” Fudge said. “Where is he going to go? He can’t go back to district. Where does he go from here? We need NRIC.”
“That’s his home, so it’s very concerning to think of him being put back in the pool and not being able to swim,” she added.
One of parents’ biggest frustrations, according to Fudge, is with that planned board meeting. State law says an opportunity to appeal to the board must be held, but after several time and location changes, the meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 27. Fudge said that’s a difficult time for parents who work and staffers whose positions could be terminated to voice their concerns.
“We’re talking about the benefit of the children, and children with special needs,” Fudge said. “So how do you just, in a blink of an eye, say we’re going to close without making it a bigger deal?”
“I feel like how could you or would you even begin to have this conversation, and not only that, but not set it to a time when staff and parents could have the opportunity to attend?” she continued.
12 News reached out to NRIC board chair Bernard DiLullo for comment on Friday, but he was not available.
Below is a letter sent to Rhode Island Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green with concerns and questions: