SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — The Northern Rhode Island Collaborative will soon be no more.
The nonprofit’s Board of Superintendents voted Tuesday to finalize plans to dissolve the collaborative, which is geared toward special education students, at the end of the school year.
Christiana Gondreau’s son is one of nearly 300 students from dozens of districts statewide who benefit from the collaborative. Gondreau tells 12 News she’s disappointed to learn that the nonprofit will soon close its doors.
“Special needs students are always the ones that fall through the cracks,” she said.
Gondreau said her son loves his speech pathologists and teachers, adding that his school can’t provide the assistance he needs to succeed.
“They’re irreplaceable,” she said. “They pour their hearts and souls into the work they do because they love these kids.”
Claire Fortier, a speech pathologist, tells 12 News that NRIC staff haven’t been told exactly why the collaborative is being shut down.
“Financially, we’re stable,” she said. “Our kids are thriving.”
“They came from schools where they couldn’t make it and they were not successful,” teacher Janet Crowley added, speaking of her students. “They’re finally here and they’re successful, and now they want to close us down.”
NRIC Board of Superintendents Chairman Dr. Bernard DiLullo said there are discussions at the state level to establish “an alternative model for the collaborative programs to continue.”
But that answer, especially for parents like Gondreau, isn’t good enough.
“I don’t see another solution for helping these children,” she said. “Not helping these children is not an option.”
NRIC Employee Union President Kimberly Sousa said that, despite being disappointed, staff still showed up to work the next day for their students. That, she added, should speak for itself.
“Their professionalism truly exemplifies their dedication to our children,” Sousa said. “We will continue to fight for our students and their families.”
The collaborative is set to dissolve June 30, according to DiLullo.