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Rep. Chippendale says RI Promise denies many students with disabilities chance to enroll in free tuition program
Providence Journal - 2/15/2021
PROVIDENCE - State Rep. Michael W. Chippendale says a free tuition program at the Community College of Rhode Island discriminates against students with disabilities because they can't attend full-time.
He has submitted a bill that would change the existing language of the program, known as Rhode Island Promise, to allow students with disabilities to attend class part-time.
“As a permanently disabled Rhode Islander myself, I am extremely offended and outraged at the very notion that there are families in Rhode Island whose children have been lessened and penalized for their disabilities,” he wrote in a letter to House Speaker Joseph K. Shekarchi and Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio.
“I can tell you personally that people with disabilities constantly suffer indignities throughout society. To imagine the impact this omission and lack of accommodation will have on a child aspiring to further their education, and the potential to dash their dreams to create a better future for themselves, frankly makes my blood boil,” Chippendale, R-Foster, wrote. “I need to believe that this was simply an oversight when the program was created and not a monetary calculation. I will not stand by and allow this injustice to continue. We, in the legislature, are obligated to right this wrong, as I am certain you agree….”
Chippendale said he contacted Robert Cooper, executive secretary of the Governor’s Commission on Disabilities.
Cooper "agreed that a change in the admissions eligibility provision within the RI Promise program is warranted to conform to the Americans with Disability Act," Chippendale said.
Chippendale said the buildings and campuses at Rhode Island's state colleges are all ADA compliant and that disabled students who attend are afforded all “reasonable accommodations.”
However, he said, the admissions eligibility within the RI Promise Program that was created by the legislature does not allow for “reasonable accommodations.”
Rhode Island Promise provides two years of free community college tuition to recent high school graduates who attend full-time and maintain a C-plus average.
Sen. Jessica de la Cruz, R-Burriville, has submitted it to the Senate.
Linda Borg covers education for the Journal.
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Rep. Chippendale says RI Promise denies many students with disabilities chance to enroll in free tuition program
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