Jersey City officials, parents react to planned closure of NJCU-run special needs school

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Jersey City officials and parents are expressing shock and dismay over the planned closure of an NJCU-run special needs school that has been in operations since 1931.

A. Harry Moore School in Jersey City. Photo via Google Maps.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“We strongly urge President Sue Henderson and the NJCU board to reconsider their position on the A. Harry Moore School, which provides critical educational services to children with special needs,” Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement.

“If NJCU follows through on their letter to abandon children with special needs, it will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on the University’s relationship with Jersey City and our administration’s willingness to work with NJCU in the future on any front. It is appalling that at the same time NJCU has prioritized market rate housing, expansion plans, and a theater operation for a New York City ballet company, they would somehow think it is acceptable to turn their back on some of the most vulnerable children.”

NCJU announced in a September 3rd letter to parents that A. Harry Moore currently plans to cease operations on June 30th, 2020.

The letter came to light after a partial roof collapse closed the school yesterday morning, as HCV first reported.

In the immediate aftermath, NJCU remains mum on the issue as elected leaders call on them to do the right thing.

“I am disheartened to learn that A Harry Moore School will be closing after being opened for over a half of century. A. Harry Moore School has provided students with multiple disabilities comprehensive educational and therapeutic programs,” Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31) wrote on Facebook.

“The school also empowers students to reach their full potential and become contributing and productive members of society. I want what is best for the students, faculty and parents and I will work with the NJ DOE, JC BOE and NJCU to do what is right for our students.”

The school, located at 2078 John F. Kennedy Boulevard, has been open since 1931 and offers program for about 140 students between the ages of three and 21, according to NJCU’s official website.

Additionally, two parent leaders at the school, Kaleena Berryman and Nichole Ghode, said in a joint statement that they are disappointed NJCU made this decision without soliciting feedback from the public or explaining what will happen once the schools closes.

“After decades of operation by NJCU this is not a decision that should be taken without proper exploration of the impact a change like this could have on the education, progress, and promise of students at the school,” they said.

“We also have not discussed what the loss of the teaching program will do to the scores of future educators who will not be able to benefit from the tremendous hands on learning experience offered by seasoned A Harry Moore educators. We all can agree that changes need to be made, and a greater level of investment by all parties is critical. There is a great benefit to the collaborative relationship between a university and school district, and more minds needs to come to the table to explore the possibilities, including parents.”

Students who attend the school are grouped into three categories: preschool disabled, learning and language disabled and multiple disabled, the website says.

Furthermore, Jersey City Board of Education President Sudhan Thomas said that the board will meet with representatives from NJCU on Monday and is confident they will reach a solution.

“The JCBOE has scheduled an emergency meeting with the NJCU for Monday. We have been in communication with the NJCU leadership over the last 48 hours. We are confident of reaching a solution with our children as the primary focus and priority,” he said.

A spokeswoman from NJCU did not immediately return an email seeking comment on Friday morning.

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