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Parents Furious Over Plan To Move Kids Out Of L.I. School, Lease It To Special Ed Students

LAWRENCE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Some parents in the Five Towns on Long Island have claimed they were blindsided by plans to move out kids and lease part of their beloved school.

As CBS 2's Jennifer McLogan reported, Dominique Dash said she and her husband are irate. They are parents at a second grader at an elementary school in the Lawrence School District that suddenly has been scheduled for restructuring.

"We had no input, no information – nothing was given to us," Dash said. "We took it as a complete disrespect – not only the parents, but the taxpayers."

The Lawrence School Board just revealed plans to shift the 400 children at School No. 5 to other schools in the district next September, and reopen No. 5 for special needs children.

"I don't think it would really be fair – especially to all the parents -- because there's so many," said Sarah Schochet of Cedarhurst. "There's 400 kids here."

The special needs children who will replace the 400 students at School No. 5 are currently being bused from neighborhood districts – some an hour away. The change would help keep them close to home.

"Children with special needs deserve the same right to have their education as close to home as possible," said Missy Miller, the parent of a special needs child. "It gives me such tremendous peace of mind."

Under the plan, first and second graders from No. 5 would be moved to School No. 2 in the Nassau County community of Inwood. Third and fourth graders would be moved to Lawrence Middle School.

Space not needed in building No. 5 for special needs would be leased to generate revenue for the district, needed due to tax caps and limited resources.

"If we didn't have a financial need to do this, would we do this?" said Lawrence Schools Supt. Gary Schall. "We may not have had the courage to do it."

"I certainly am supporting the superintendent," added Lawrence taxpayer Eleanor Ellentuck. "I think that it's unfair."

Ellentuck believes many in the Five Towns are penalized – taxed for public schools while paying tuition for private and charter schools. It is a hot-button issue in the area.

The school district said parents should not feel blindsided. They are invited to share their concerns about the issue at an open town hall meeting Wednesday night.

called it double taxpaying – because many in the five towns now send their children to private and charter schools while also paying taxes to support public schools.

Recently, School No. 6 in Woodmere was shuttered and sold due to falling enrollment.

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