BOHEMIA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A disabled 11th grader on Long Island has had multiple absences this year, but her family had no clue she could be “de-registered” because of it.
Chloe Castellano has a confirmed medical condition, acknowledged by the state, but this didn’t keep her high school from kicking her out. Now her parents are fighting back.
“I find out from the dean of students ‘oh your daughter is no longer registered with the school.’ It came as quite a shock,” Darren Mozzarella said.
The news was followed by a letter stating that, due to excessive absences, Chloe was dropped and the Castellano were requested to arrange an exit interview.
“I fell to the ground. I couldn’t breathe, like a full on panic attack,” the 16-year-old explained to CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
Chloe was diagnosed with her disability in the sixth grade. It has required three surgeries to her eyes and brain since then.
She now suffers from debilitating migraine headaches, dizziness, and vomiting. Castellano says she attends school as often as possible.
“Sitting there at my desk and trying to close my eyes, take a break for a second, just to relieve some of the pain… literally feel like someone stabbing me in the back of the head,” the young student added.
Chloe has had what’s known as a 504 plan in place in her Connetquot school district. It’s part of a federal civil rights law entitling her to special accommodations due to her disability, including home tutoring.
“We’re talking about a child the school district has a responsibility to educate. You sit with family and come up with a plan,” education expert Michael Cohen said.
“I think they pushed it aside and treated me as though ‘yea, you are disabled, but you look normal and are really smart so maybe just come to school and that will work,’ but I can’t be in school,” the teen argues.
Chloe’s father says he has already contacted the U.S. Education Department and has filed an appeal with state education officials.
The Castellanos are now considering a lawsuit against the Connetquot school district.
The district says they’re unable to publicly comment on private student matters but add they are working to reinstate Chloe.