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Dec 7, 2017 8:16 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Hampton Town Rejects Autism Specialist's Bid To Move Into CDCH Building

The former CDCH building remains in limbo after the East Hampton Town Board rejected a bid by a for-profit school for special needs children. Kyril Bromley
Dec 12, 2017 1:55 PM

East Hampton Town officials last week rejected a proposal to allow a school for special needs children to take over the Child Development Center of the Hamptons building in Wainscott, citing the departure from the nonprofit nature of the lease to CDCH that leasing to a for-profit entity would be.

The town owns the land on which the CDCH building sits and, although the building is owned by the corporate remnants of the former charter school and is controlled by its board of directors, must sign off on any sale or subleasing of the facility.

According to the terms of the 30-year lease inked between the town and CDCH, the school pays just $1 per year for the land. The board resolution, approved on Thursday, December 7, rejects the proposal to lease to the Gersh Academy, noting that allowing the for-profit company to take over the lease would constitute an illegal gifting of public funds.

“The town believes that the property should only be assigned to a bonafide not-for-profit entity on the terms set forth in the lease,” said Supervisor Larry Cantwell, reading from the resolution to reject the Gersh Academy proposal. “The town finds that Gersh’s existence as a for-profit entity makes assignment of the lease not in the best interests of the town, because it would greatly change the nature of the mission and/or the operations to be carried out at the site.”

The vote to reject the lease proposal was a unanimous 4-0, with Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez absent.

Gersh Academy, which operates two schools for special needs children on Long Island, had proposed purchasing the school building from the CDCH board. The academy would have provided educational programs, as well as pre- and after-school care, for kids with severe autism and other developmental disabilities.

Gersh Academy’s founder, Kevin Gersh, told the board earlier this fall that he would also seek to operate a summer camp for more than 100 special needs children out of the building in the summer.

Parents of autistic children had made an appeal to the board just this week to allow Gersh to take over the CDCH building. Their pleas countered claims made to the town by administrators of several local public schools that the districts currently are providing sufficient services to children with special needs, and that demand for additional programming is low.

The parents said that the circumstances were quite the contrary, and that the East End suffers greatly from a lack of services in its schools and from outside programs.

“There are 27 specialist autism schools on Long Island, but none on the East End,” said Julian Barrowcliffe, whose son has autism. “Either what we have here is a vacuum here on the East End—or the East End schools are so uniquely brilliant at providing the services that are needed by these children that, arguably, we should roll that brilliance back west and shut down the other 27 clearly superfluous schools that exist.”

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What is the Town's plan then to find a not for profit school to accommodate the growing population of autistic and other special needs children in our community?
Or will they continue to sit back and do nothing while the CDCH building, which is
fitted for special needs, sits empty?

And, no, the current schools do not have this covered. They do not have the necessary certified, experienced Applied Behavioral Analysts to help these children become independent adults.

In ...more
By jane rogers (5), sag harbor on Dec 8, 17 9:49 AM
1 member liked this comment
Work the problem here and find a reasonable solution.

Having NO votes is counter productive.
By Amagansett Voter (62), Amagansett on Dec 8, 17 11:56 AM