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Letter: Few options

My name is Deirdre Alton and I am the parent of two children who attend MAVA. As I am sure you have read in other letters from concerned parents, the proposed closure of MAVA will have an incalculable negative impact on many children, including my son and daughter. I would like to briefly share my son’s story with you.

My son, William, is a ballet dancer. He has suffered discrimination and bullying from the time he started school at age 5. In the past he would shrug it off, although I am certain he was hurting inside. We made many concessions to help him avoid being bullied, for example, he never took the school bus, never attended after school programs and his principals and teachers were always on the look out for bullying behavior. However, once he entered middle school, the bullying became more intense and more often than not, physical. The administration of his school appeared unconcerned, his teachers, ambivalent. Then came the day he attempted to overdose on sleeping pills. At age 12. Just digest that for a moment.

So I did what most parents would do. I searched for an alternative learning environment. He applied for the Renaissance School. Wait list. He applied for PVPA. Wait list. We searched neighboring school districts. East Longmeadow does not participate in School Choice. Neither does Wilbraham. Longmeadow schools are not accepting new choice students. Chicopee and Holyoke? Just as bad as Springfield. Private school? Not on my wages of $21,000 a year. And someone told us about MAVA. It was as if the skies had opened up and the angels were singing. William enrolled at MAVA in February of 2011 and completed the entire school year in four months. His sister, Maeve, joined him at MAVA last year. And now we are being kicked to the curb, as they say.

We just received a letter from PVPA, he’s moved to number 13 on the waiting list after three years.

We are respectfully requesting that you find a compromise that will extend MAVA for at least another year. Our children deserve that much.

DEIRDRE ALTON

Springfield

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