CMS parents fight to keep special-education program

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — CMS parents and students are pressing the district about plans to end a program for special needs students at Randolph Middle and Philip O. Berry High School.

There are roughly 20 to 30 students in the Special Academic Curriculum (SAC) program at Randolph.

Parents say the special education program has been successful for 23 years before they were told just before Christmas break that it's being phased out.

Parent Vanessa Infanzon is trying to stop the potential move.

"To discontinue this program will be a huge mistake," she read from a letter she received.

Invanzon says she's been brought to tears by the letters she's collecting from parents joining her in calling on CMS to continue the special academic curriculum.

"Finding a program where children with special needs can thrive on every level is the single most important thing we as parents can hope for," she continued reading.

Infanzon says her son, Ben, who is nonverbal, is making progress at Randolph.

"My kid is not just going there for day care or so he can get out of the house, he's actually learning," she said.

She says officials told her they're moving the SAC program from those two magnets to neighborhood schools.

The head of the Classroom Teachers Association (CTA) disagrees with the move.

"Why ruin the most diverse program they have and the program that is working for these challenged students?" Judy Kidd asked.

Some current and former students share that same sentiment. Infanzon published a letter on her blog written by Myers Park student and former Randolph student Lucy Cochran.

Cochran says working with SAC students and returning every month to play organized sports has been key to building acceptance among students.

Ben's brother Michael is also a student. He's starting a petition.

Read his blog here

"The SAC program has created social bonds between typical and special-needs kids," Michael McCall said, reading part of his petition.

His mother and other advocates for students with special needs believe the program should be replicated not removed. Students and parents are sending letters to CMS hoping to convince them to keep the SCA program at its current schools.

McCall plans to start circulating petitions when school gets back in session next week. Eyewitness News reached out to CMS officials and have not heard back.

Students return from holiday break Jan. 3.