Westhampton Beach Student With Down Syndrome To Be Bused Out; Parents Call It Discrimination

WESTHAMPTON BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Westhampton Beach student wants to continue to be mainstreamed and remain with his friends, sibling and classmates, but school policy has been to bus such children to districts with experienced, talented special education teachers.

As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, some think it is a better chance for a stellar education, while others call it discrimination.

School starts Wednesday for Aiden Killoran, 12, who has Down syndrome. But his district said it is not equipped to educate him.

Killoran graduated in June from his local elementary school, and is now eager to begin the seventh grade. His family assumed he would continue on – mainstreamed from other classmates – to Westhampton Beach Middle School.

“He’s like the king of the school – so, everybody knows him,” said Aiden’s sister, Shannon Killoran.

“I love him a lot. I do a lot for him, and I really hope he can to go to Westhampton so I can be in school with him,” said Aiden’s brother, Christian Killoran.

But the Killorans said they were shocked to receive word that Aiden will be among 43 special needs students to be bused to neighboring districts that can “professional accommodate” their future schooling.

The Killorans labeled the decision “discrimination.”

“Westhampton Beach School District has never, in their entire history, ever educated an openly assessed special needs student for post-elementary education,” said Aiden’s father, Christian Killoran.

The Killorans took their fight to U.S. District Court, and a judge will soon rule whether Westhampton must be forced to educate all special need students locally within its district.

The superintendent and school board president attended the proceedings Monday. They declined to comment outside court, citing pending litigation.

The elder Christian Killoran said he and parents of other special needs children have a right to protest outside Westhampton Middle School, and plan to be there again on the first day of classes.

“We plan on appearing on opening day with Aiden and our supporters, in a peacful manner,” he said. “I am glad we were not enjoined or restrained.”

Added Killoran family attorney Pamela Tucker: “They have a special ed program, but they only take high-functioning kids. They only want kids who are able to deal with core curriculum and take Regents diplomas.”

Some in the community have been banding together ever since they said they received statistics from the state on taxpayer costs to bus out special needs students.

“It comes out to about $4 million a year that they’re busing out these 43 kids that we do have available to create a program in our community; in Westhampton Beach School District,” said Aiden’s mother, Terrie Killoran.

The Killorans said their discrimination battle is emotional, and that their son deserves equal treatment, love from classmates, and guidance from teachers in his own community.

The judge’s ruling is expected later this week.

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