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Christian’s Story

Christian is a 19-year-old young man who dreams of working as a chef. Christian came to New York City from El Salvador in 2008 and was placed in the 9th grade. He struggled academically, despite attending regularly and availing himself of supports such as Saturday school. Christian’s mother met with the school repeatedly about his lack of academic progress, but the school failed to discuss special education services or refer Christian for an evaluation. When Christian came to AFC in the 2012-2013 school year, he was in the 9th grade for the fifth time and his principal had suggested that he sign himself out of high school or transfer to a different school. She felt Christian was too old to bother with special education and encouraged him to pursue a GED instead of a regular high school diploma.

AFC requested a special education evaluation, which revealed that Christian was reading at a 5th grade level in Spanish and at a 2nd grade level in English. Ashley Grant, AFC’s Equal Justice Works fellow sponsored by Arnold and Porter LLP, then helped Christian secure placement in a bilingual vocational program at the Manhattan School for Career Development (MSCD), which could better meet his needs. Christian has been attending MSCD since March 2013 and participating in the school’s culinary program. This September, he is also starting more intensive culinary training at Co-Op Tech, a school that provides Career and Technical Education (CTE) for older students and prepares them to enter the workforce. Christian loves cooking dinner for his mother, and he is very excited to learn new things at Co-Op Tech and work towards his goal of earning a diploma and becoming a chef! In addition, Christian will be receiving bilingual remedial tutoring, services AFC obtained to make up, in part, for all the years the Department of Education (DOE) failed to provide him with an appropriate education.