On Graduation Day, Students with Disabilities Must Not Be Left Out

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara and his son Michael, who lives with autism, celebrate completion of another year at the Wildwood School in Albany County, NY

This past legislative session, a bill to make sure local school districts develop policies that ensure students with disabilities have the opportunity to take part in their high school graduation became part of my Autism Action NY initiative in the State Assembly. I’m pleased to announce that the bill passed in both the Assembly and Senate at the end of the legislative session, and has now been signed into law (Ch. 410 of 2017).

The message is simple: On graduation day, students with disabilities must not be left out. Prior to this bill, New York did not require schools to allow students with disabilities to participate in their graduation ceremonies. I think about my 16-year old son Michael, diagnosed with autism at age 3, he has faced many challenges in education and it’s hard for him to make friends. By recognizing that some students may need take a different route to graduation, the bill ensures that students with disabilities can celebrate this accomplishment with the friends they have made in school and the teachers that have been there with them, just like everybody else.

About 1 in 68 children in the United States are living with autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the country, and there is a crisis for support services that needs immediate attention. With this bill signed into law, New York is takes another step to help find solutions to the challenges families affected by autism face each day.

There is more to do! I look forward to continuing my work in the upcoming legislative session. For more information on my Autism Action NY initiative in the State Assembly and how you can help visit my website at www.nyassembly.gov/mem/Angelo-Santabarbara/ or  take the Autism Action Tour on my Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/AsmSantabarbara/ or at www.vimeo.com/181741159

Questions? Need more information? I’m happy to help! Call me at (518) 382-2941 or send me an email at SantabarbaraA@NYAssembly.gov.

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