March 20, 2012

Fairhaven has no plans to move autistic students from Wood School

By BETH PERDUE, 20 March 2012

FAIRHAVEN – School district officials say they have addressed concerns about potential problems autistic students might experience from wind turbines and determined that they do not need to take action.

The district’s director of special education, David Kenney, said Monday the district will continue to monitor the situation but does not have plans to move students with autism out of Wood School when the turbines become operational.

Rumors that teachers have been discussing plans to move students with autism from Wood to East Fairhaven because of the turbines have circulated in town, but Kenney said they are baseless.

Wood School is the closest elementary school to the wind turbine site and is the site of a planned new school building expected to begin construction this summer. It is less than a mile from the Arsene Street property where developer Fairhaven Wind is building two 1.5-megawatt wind turbines. Parts for the turbines began arriving in mid-February, and construction is expected to wrap up in April.

“We already addressed this issue at a school committee meeting back in January,” Kenney said. “I spoke to a colleague in Hull … and what Hull reported to me is that they’ve had a turbine on their property, and it’s been there for awhile, and they’ve had no reports of concerns.”

Kenney is referring to Hull High School, which has an approximately 318-foot wind turbine operating on school property.

“We have had no concerns voiced by community members, nor have we had any problems with the wind turbines,” said Scott Sivo, assistant principal at Hull High School.

“It sits literally on our property on the edge of the football field, maybe about 100 yards from the school building,” Sivo said. “We’ve had students in the building with autism – students who are on the spectrum – and have not had any problems or concerns with community members.”

If issues related to the turbines come up, they’ll be addressed, Kenney said, but there are no plans in the works to move students out of Wood because of them.

“I’m not aware of any kid slated, from either Rogers or Wood, to go into (the East Fairhaven autism) program, related to the turbine or not,” he said.

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