Entertainment And News

NJ School Allegedly Forcing 7th-Grade Boy With Autism To Change Districts — 'The School Has Blamed The Failures Of A Few Staff Members On My Son'

Photo: ChrisSteer, Sisoje, Alexander's Images / Canva
autistic 7th grader being removed by school

A wave of outrage swept through the Facebook community, as news broke that a 7th-grade boy named Joseph Costello was being forced to switch school districts. 

The Ventnor School District in New Jersey has come under fire for allegedly forcing a 7th-grade autistic student to change schools.

The school claimed it was due to them simply “lacking the resources to cater to his specific needs.” But Joseph Costello's parents, Joe and Katie Costello, were understandably appalled to hear this reasoning, and are continuing to battle the Ventnor School District.

Their hopes are that their son will not have to move school districts which would, according to the 12-year-old Costello, "be really stressful." 

What adds to the frustration of this situation is the fact that the school allegedly also stated that their son simply lacked friends and that the Galloway School District would be a more fitting environment for the 7th grader.

Instead of the school devising a comprehensive plan to address his special needs, it appears that the school has opted for a much easier path, effectively absolving themselves of responsibility.

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Moving Costello to another school district would not only be a burden on his parents, but to the 12-year-old as well. "I would have long car rides to a new school with new teachers that don’t know me and none of my friends would be there," Costello pleaded. 

It is unacceptable that Costello's parents would have to bear the burden of taking responsibility for their child’s schooling needs because the district doesn’t want to extend or educate themselves.

Many people have come to the Costello family's defense, and rightfully so. Facebook commenters on the “Let Joseph Stay” Facebook page have shown an immense amount of support for the family. 

As one user simply stated, “This makes me more than sad, it makes me angry and also Joseph has no friends, why not? It seems as if the school system isn’t accepting him, so of course leading by example why would the students?"

Photo: Science Photo Library / Canva Pro

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Another commenter who happened to be a teacher wrote, “This is absolutely disgraceful. As a special education teacher of 20 years, there is no truth or well-being behind any of their motives. Children belong in their own hometown school. I work in a district that has out-of-district placed students and there is no benefit in my opinion.”

However, the discussion of this issue should be expanded more. As we know, children with special needs oftentimes struggle within ill-equipped school districts, and teachers are often not always trained to instruct children who have special needs.

According to The World Health Organization, about one in 100 children has autism. With numbers that high, it's imperative that schools implement proper integration practices to ensure all students and teachers have what they need to succeed.

Inclusion in the classroom, when done properly, benefits everyone. The fact that the Ventnor, New Jersey school district failed so miserably on behalf of Costello should anger every parent, student, and teacher in that school.

Ostracizing and failing to provide for one is a failure for the entire student body and staff. 

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Marielisa Reyes is an entertainment and news writer for YourTango with a focus on pop culture and human interest topics.