Kennedy hosts 300 at Special Education PTA College Night


The Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District, in conjunction with the Bellmore-Merrick Special Education Parent Teacher Association and the Community Parent Center, hosted its annual college fair on Nov. 19 at Kennedy High School in Bellmore, which provided information to high school students with special learning needs.

More than 300 students, parents and counselors from the district and across Long Island attended SEPTA College Night. District officials said the annual fair seeks to inform families about opportunities for special-needs students after high school.

Cheryl Gitlitz, the district’s transition coordinator, said students need to know about specialized services that are available to them in college and vocational school, noting that this type of event allows district officials to provide students with information to help them after graduation.

“In high school, they get a guidance counselor, special-education services, and all of this amazing and wonderful support,” she said. “When they leave high school, their disability doesn’t go away –– it stays with them. We want to give them the same tools that they had in high school in college.”

Attendees had the chance to meet with disability service and student service representatives from dozens of colleges, universities, agencies and vocational schools. Officials said representatives from institutions like Access Careers, Hofstra University, Lifelong Learning, Long Island Parent Center, the Town of Hempstead Department of Occupational Resources and the University of Iowa attended.

During a panel discussion, several professionals also spoke on topics of interest to students with disabilities, including post-secondary options, the lack of individualized education programs in college, adult career and continuing education services, and post-high school planning. According to the district, undergraduate and graduate students and parents discussed their involvement in and perspectives on their post-secondary experiences.

SEPTA Co-President Sheila Korn said the event is important because parents of students with special needs are accustomed to receiving a great deal of support throughout their children’s education. However, Korn noted, all of that could change when students enroll in college.

“Colleges are not just going to offer support –– you have to go out and seek it,” she said. “Being the parent of a special-needs student, you are constantly seeking information and how to get the best for your child.”

SEPTA will also sponsor a transition fair on Tuesday, Jan. 7, at Calhoun High School, at 1786 State St. in Merrick. Registration for the fair, which organizers said comprises workshops on various topics relevant to students with special needs, will begin at 6 p.m.