The unique Achilles and ASPIRES programs at Nassau Community College, designed to assist students with Autism, will be restored for the 2020-2021 academic year after the Nassau County Legislature voted unanimously June 29 to approve the college’s budget.
Citing finances as the primary reason, NCC sent a letter April 20 to the coordinators of both programs, Valerie Lagakis and Frances Viscovich, informing them the platforms for students with Autism would not be offered in 2020-2021.
As reported in the Herald’s June 4 editions, the decision was met with a wave of negativity, and Majority Caucus Legislators vowed to not pass the NCC budget until the programs were restored.
Since the programs that service about 40 students per semester were set to be eliminated, legislators worked closely with educators, community members and college leadership to restore them.
Following the approval of the budget, Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello said: “I am very happy to see the Achilles and ASPIRES program restored at Nassau Community College. Nassau County prides itself on being a place that is welcoming and provides opportunity for everyone to excel, and these programs do exactly that.
“I am thankful for the professors and parents who raised awareness about the programs,” he added. “Their tireless advocacy led to the restoration. I would also like to thank NCC President [Dr. Jermaine] Williams for his personal efforts to find a path to continue the programs. We are proud that in these difficult times Nassau Community College continues to be an invaluable resource for our residents.”