Five children with moderate intellectual disability are being forced to transfer institutions because the Education Ministry is turning their Herzliya school into an institute for autistic children.
The children, ages 11 and 12, currently attend Ofek in Herzliya. The ministry isn't offering them a decent alternative, and isn't negotiating with them, say their parents. The ministry's Tel Aviv district counters that the move is necessary due to the increase in autistic children, and says the other children will be moved to "an excellent alternative framework that will be found for them within the greater Tel Aviv region."
"For children with intellectual disabilities, changing schools is complicated," says Shirley Galor, deputy head of Akim, the National Association for the Habilitation of Children and Adults with Intellectual Disabilities. "Routine is very important for them. Therefore, it's not clear why the ministry is insisting on this, and everyone agrees it's not for the good of the children."
The ministry's policy of consolidating special-education frameworks means that children such as these - residents of the greater Tel Aviv region with moderate-level disability - "have no appropriate framework within a reasonable distance from their house, and these five students certainly won't be able to stay together," Galor stated in a letter to the head of special education at the Education Ministry.
"We don't have anywhere to send the children," said Michal, a mother of one of the children. "They simply want to throw us into the street."
The parents and children had been very satisfied with Ofek, said another mother, Avivit. She added that the school has an animal corner; children from other schools come and entertain the Ofek students; and they go on a trip every two weeks. "There's no other school that suits them and that offers these things," she said.
The ministry responded that the children would be cared for. "From the moment the students are moved to new schools, ministry officers will ensure they are fully and quickly integrated," it said.