LAUSD Strike Raises Safety Concerns for Parents of Students With Special Needs

Gloria Perez-Stewart stands on the picket line with her son, Aidan Villasenor Walker, and husband John Stewart on Jan.15, 2019. Aidan, who has autism, is a student at Eagle Rock Jr./Sr. High School. (Credit: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Gloria Perez-Stewart stands on the picket line with her son, Aidan Villasenor Walker, and husband John Stewart on Jan.15, 2019. Aidan, who has autism, is a student at Eagle Rock Jr./Sr. High School. (Credit: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Gloria Perez-Stewart was adamant: Her son would not attend school while his teachers at Eagle Rock Jr./Sr. High School were on strike. But for Perez-Stewart and her son, Aidan Villasenor Walker, skipping school involves much more than filling an extra six hours of free time.

Aidan, 19, has autism. At school, he has special education teachers, speech and occupational therapists, and a rigid schedule to help him navigate a world he often struggles to understand.

Losing that network of teachers to picket lines — even briefly — is particularly unsettling for him.

The Los Angeles Unified School District serves more than 60,000 special-needs students, more than 12% of its overall enrollment. The districtwide strike has raised safety concerns for some parents, particularly those whose children have severe intellectual or developmental disabilities. Many have kept their children at home.

Read the full story on LATimes.com

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