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City told to keep giving aid to disabled woman

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  • Leonie Haimson
    City told to keep giving aid to disabled woman BY ERIN EINHORN DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER A 22-year-old quadriplegic should continue to receive special services
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 21, 2006
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      City told to keep giving aid to disabled woman

       

      BY ERIN EINHORN
      DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

       

      A 22-year-old quadriplegic should continue to receive special services from the city Department of Education, a judge ruled yesterday.

      Alba Somoza's family filed a lawsuit this year arguing that she was given a bogus diploma when she graduated from Manhattan's School of the Future four years ago and that she is entitled to $800,000 worth of additional services over two years.

      Somoza, who has cerebral palsy and is unable to speak, has already received more than $1 million in post-graduate compensatory services. But when she turned 21 - too old for a free education - school officials moved to end her expensive program on June 30.

      The Somoza family, which had enlisted former President Bill Clinton's help in the battle over Alba's education more than a decade ago, sued with pro bono help from the Kasowitz, Benson, Torres and Friedman law firm and won a reprieve yesterday from Manhattan Federal Judge Richard Holwell. He ruled that Somoza can continue her program while her appeals drag through the courts, a process that could take a year. The decision expands a previous ruling that gave her the services over the short term.

      "We are absolutely ecstatic," said her mother, Mary Somoza. "We believe this [ruling] can set a precedent for thousands of children around the country like Alba who are in this situation."

      Thomas Crane, who heads the litigation division of the city Law Department, issued a statement saying, "We are disappointed in the court's ruling and are considering our legal options."

      Alba Somoza made headlines in 1993 when her twin sister, Anastasia, whose cerebral palsy is less severe, asked Clinton at a town meeting why her sister couldn't join her in general education classes.

      The twins - granddaughters of former Nicaraguan President Luis Somoza Debayle - later visited the White House for a bill signing.

      Originally published on July 21, 2006

       

       

      Leonie Haimson

      Class Size Matters

      124 Waverly Pl.

      New York, NY 10011

      212-674-7320

      leonie@...

      www.classsizematters.org

       

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