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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Arizona Autism Transportation Program Becomes Reality

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PHOENIX – Parents across the state are struggling to send their children to Arizona Autism Charter School, but there’s one thing missing, and that’s transportation for students. And spokesman Dan McCarty says the daily parental delivery line can be challenging, to say the least.

“The situation of parental abandonment right now is brutal because we have lines and we’re trying to get students in and out,” McCarty said.

But relief is on its way. The school, located in downtown Phoenix, received a $ 2 million transportation grant from “A for Arizona.”

Founder and CEO Emily Anne Gullickson says she is impressed with what they saw on the Arizona Autism Charter.

“What’s really amazing about Arizona autism is that they’re so intentional with everything they do, putting the child first,” Gullickson said.

“They put forward a very solid proposal that says a big 80-passenger traditional bus doesn’t work for our single student population. They have an amazing staff that is highly trained with the student population and they wanted to think outside the box,” he said. . “For the committee, it was obvious.”

Both the parents and McCarty were thrilled to receive the news that they got the grant, but now he says the pressure is coming to produce.

“They’re a couple of emotions,” he said. “One is total excitement because we can finally do something here! Then it’s wow anxiety, we have to do it now!” said McCarty.

The plan is to use the money to buy 13 vehicles equipped with the latest technology to help students with autism.

The school has partnered with Kid Commute, a transportation company whose two-person driver teams are specially trained to handle any explosions or expressive behavior along the route.

“They’re not scared,” McCarty said.

And while more than 300 students are currently attending Arizona Autism, the program will transport about 130 students to get started.

Parents will drop off their children at a nearby pickup point, and Kid Commute will take them safely to school.

A for Arizona hopes that this new program will serve as a model for other schools in a similar situation.

“Ideally, other public schools across the state and potentially even across the country could look for this viable micro-traffic solution,” Gullickson said.

“One of the things that really inspires about Arizona autism is that families have literally moved across the country to try to get into that school,” he added.

“They have resettled here in Phoenix because of academic support, but also social and emotional support. They have a global approach that we value your child and empower them to have the best education possible,” Gullickson said.

“It was a very clever approach to a real problem they had been facing for many years.”

“We will keep in touch with them for the next two years of the grant cycle and learn their best practices and the obstacles they face, and help them solve problems,” he said.

McCarty says Arizona Autism Charter will welcome continued support.

“It’s a huge program with a big benefit, so we’re excited and determined to make this the best program possible,” he said.

They hope to launch the new program at the beginning of next school year.

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