JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – There’s been a sudden change of heart from a Jersey City school and its decision to shut down a special needs program.

That means care will continue for more than 100 special needs children and young adults.

CBS2’s Christina Fan reports that community pressure played a role in the reversal.

It’s been a week full of setbacks at A. Harry Moore School. A roof collapse postponed the first day of class. Then, parents of special needs students learned the program they desperately need was going to be axed.

“Devastated, the school is everything to us,” Nicole Gohde said.

Gohde’s seven-year-old son has a neurological disorder and depends on the staff’s care.

She says she felt shocked and blindsided when New Jersey City University announced plans to shut down the program at the end of this school year.

Special needs program run by New Jersey City University (Credit: City of Jersey City)

Parents say NJCU told them the needs of their kids are no longer aligned with the special education teaching program at the university.

The backlash was immediate, even from the city’s mayor.

“If their mission has changed where they are not focused on everybody including the most vulnerable population that they have a commitment to serve and we feel for our commitment change to NJCU,” Mayor Josh Fulop said.

Just hours after CBS2 started pushing for answers, the university released a statement saying it would find a way to ensure the school remains open.

City leaders told CBS2 they will make sure NJCU honors their commitment.

“This is also very close to our hearts because it involves children who are the most vulnerable in our school district. Ever since we came to know about this letter I’ve been in touch with my board members, we’ve been directly in touch with the president of NJCU,” Jersey City School Board President Sudhan Thomas said.

Gohde is happy with the outcome, but says the university should have never considered closing its operation.

“That’s not how you take care of children that you say you love. If you love these kids and you want what’s best for these kids then you consult the parents.”

City leaders plan to meet with the university’s leadership on Monday to continue discussing a framework on how the school can remain open.


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