For Immediate Release: July 1, 2019
Contact: Peter Giunta, 347.621.8031
Assemblymember Michael Reilly (R-South Shore) announced today that the New York City Department of Education’s Academics, Career, and Essential Skills (ACES) program – which allows intellectually disabled students, such as those with down syndrome, an opportunity to learn in their local community school – will be expanding on Staten Island, just in time for the 2019-2020 school year. The expansion came after months of efforts from Reilly and other advocates to convince the Department of Education to roll the program out in full on Staten Island, where it had only been offered locally to middle and high school students, but not elementary school students.
Public School 58, located at 77 Marsh Avenue, will be the first Staten Island elementary school to offer the ACES program this fall. Previously, parents who wanted to enroll their child in the program would have to be willing to travel to another borough.
The middle school level of the ACES program will also be expanding to Intermediate School 34, located at 528 Academy Avenue, and will continue to be offered at Intermediate School 75, McKee High School, and Wagner High School.
This past April, Reilly penned a letter to Chancellor Richard Carranza to express frustration that the complete program was not offered on Staten Island, and had requested that the Department of Education reconsider their decision in time for the next school year, saying at the time that it was “ridiculous to expect the parent of a child with an intellectual or developmental disability to travel from the borough with the longest commute time in the nation, over a bridge with the highest toll in the nation, to another borough so that they can attend school in a community they aren’t even part of.” Chancellor Carranza’s office soon responded and pledged to work with Reilly on making the program available locally to elementary school students.
“The ACES program is crucially important to the success of some of our neediest students, and I am pleased that the Department of Education has decided to expand it so that these students can truly receive the high-quality education they deserve,” said Reilly. “This would never be possible though without the determination of those student’s parents, and many other parent advocates like them, who fight each and every day to get their children the best education possible.”
Reilly served for nine years as a member of Community Education Council 31, four of those years as Council President where he had been a vocal advocate for students, parents, and teachers.