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Anselmo’s Story

When Rosa came to AFC in May, her nephew, Anselmo, was struggling in his New York City public high school. Anselmo, a shy, Spanish-speaking 17-year-old who recently immigrated from Ecuador, is partially blind and has a hearing impairment, and he was reading at a second-grade level. Despite all of these factors, Anselmo had been placed in an English-only tenth grade classroom without the level of support that he needed to participate effectively. When Anselmo understandably struggled, the DOE determined that he should be placed in District 75, a separate school district intended for students with severe needs that require more intensive support. Although Anselmo certainly needed more support than his current classroom was providing, his AFC case advocate informed Rosa that there were other options that did not require such a high level of segregation from his nondisabled peers.

AFC began working with Rosa and Anselmo to locate an appropriate classroom, where he could obtain the special education and language support he needed.   Knowing it could take a while to identify a class that could fully support Anselmo, we secured a Spanish-speaking paraprofessional so that he could better participate in his current class in the interim.

In the fall, we found a school with the right setting for Anselmo and helped work through some bureaucratic hurdles to make sure he was enrolled. We’re thrilled to report that Anselmo is now attending school in the right setting – a small, bilingual class with a special education teacher and Spanish language supports – and is doing well. Sadly, what Rosa and Anselmo experienced is not uncommon for recently arrived students and families, who may be unfamiliar with their rights and the options available to them. Without the support of an advocate, these students are sometimes left to struggle in classrooms that are not appropriate for their learning needs.

Anselmo is so much happier at his new school, and I am grateful for AFC’s help. Without my AFC advocate, I would not have even known there were programs available for students like Anselmo.”

Rosa, Anselmos’ aunt