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Josh’s Story

Josh is a sweet and hardworking young man who first came to AFC in 2008 because he was desperate to learn how to read. He was 20 years old but only reading on a first-grade level — he could not read emails from his friends or understand menus at restaurants and was unable to write anything except his name. Despite years of failing to make academic progress, and having been identified as needing special education services for a language-based learning disability when he was in second grade, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) had completely failed to provide Josh with an appropriate education at every school he attended. In addition, the DOE had incorrectly told Josh’s mother that their obligation to provide services ended when he turned 18; as a result, he had been out of school for two years. He had attempted to find vocational training on his own, but was unsuccessful in the programs he found due to his inability to read and write. When Josh’s mother learned from another parent that he had the right to attend school until age 21, she attempted to find him a new school, but the DOE failed to provide an appropriate placement. The assistant principal at the only school offered by the DOE told Josh’s mom that he was “not going to learn how to read in this school.”

AFC intervened and got Josh an evaluation, which established that he had the ability and potential to read at a higher level and needed immediate remediation. We filed an impartial hearing and successfully secured intensive, one-on-one reading instruction for him. Josh was an incredibly motivated and eager student who made enormous progress when he received the support and specialized instruction he needed. After less than six months, he had already jumped to a 4th/5th grade reading level. As he continued working on his reading skills, he also began studying for the GED. In 2013, Josh experienced a traumatic setback when his mom, who had been his fiercest advocate, passed away. However, he was more determined than ever to get his high school equivalency diploma in her honor. AFC arranged for additional tutoring to help Josh prepare for the GED, as well as testing accommodations. This past November, he earned his diploma, an achievement he and his mom never would have dreamed was possible just a few years ago! Josh is now looking forward to the future: he is a very talented musician and would like to study business and eventually work in the music industry.