North Street will close: “I have to go home & tell my autistic children that they’re displaced”

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NEW IBERIA, La. (KLFY) – Tonight the Iberia Parish School Board voted to close 2 elementary schools at the end of this current school year for budget reasons.

  • Students at Jeanerette Elementary will now head to St. Charles Street Elementary School.

  • Students at North Street Elementary are headed to Daspit Road Elementary or Park Elementary School.

With tears in their eyes, parents of special needs students who attend North Street Elementary, along with teachers, spoke out about the unexpected closing of their close.

Most parents saying they’re unsure of what to do next.

“This means our future is up in the air. This means we don’t know what the future brings,” said Nicole Guyote, parent of a special needs student at North Street Elementary.

“And now you are affecting a school where 54% of their population is special-ed children.,” Said Janet Trahan, her child has special needs and attends North Street.

“Now I have to go home and tell my autistic children that they’re displaced,” said Amanda Randazzo, who has children who attend North Street.

Parents of of children with special needs say North Street was a blessing for them.

And finding out about the school’s closure on social media just a few weeks ago, doesn’t give them enough time to adjust.

“It was Mother’s Day when concerned teachers let us know that this might be happening. it’s not enough. It’s disrespectful. Disrespectful for the parents, the children, the faculty, these amazing faculty members,” said Guyote.

Superintendent of Iberia Parish Schools Carey Laviolette, says with a multi-million dollar budget deficit, this is one of the hardest decisions the Board has ever had to make.

“If you don’t start making cuts before you deplete all of your money, then you’re in catastrophic problems. And so we’re trying to take these measures to curtail that, so that we’re not facing dire straits down the road which some districts are,” said Laviolette.

She says the Board has the children’s best interest at heart.

There was a motion to delay the closing of the North Street but it failed as well.

“I even have 2 brother  that are autistic, and one of them almost died because of it. And I just don’t like it. They’re (School Board) ruining tons of lives because of it,’ said Chloe Songne, student at North Street Elementary.

“Waiting until the very last minute to do this as parents…That lets us know as parents, they (Board) don’t know what it’s like to have a special needs child, so I’m hoping this is a lesson learned for everybody,” said Trahan.

As for the teachers, they only have a few days to pack up their school and classrooms.

Superintendent Laviolette says a plan is being made to look at the grade levels they taught and content of what they teach, to transition them to other schools in the District.

She also says the Board will be working all summer to make sure the transition for children with special needs is as seamless as possible.

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