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Success at school

In the Rio Grande Valley, open enrollment in public schools is a critical component of school choice, and it played a pivotal role in my daughter’s success.

Moving here four years ago, I faced the challenge of ensuring a stable environment for my 16-year-old daughter on the autism spectrum, as change can be particularly disruptive for such students. The added complexity of the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated our situation. Nevertheless, my daughter successfully navigated a year of online learning before transitioning to in-person classes during her final semester.

The nurturing and inclusive environment at her new high school, coupled with the dedication of her teachers, contributed to her perfect attendance and overall development. After graduation, I resigned from my job to prevent her from being home alone.

Through a colleague’s recommendation, we discovered the PSJA ISD Pathway for Independence program, which transformed our daughter’s life. Her newfound friendships and social interactions have been nothing short of remarkable.

As our daughter thrives in her 18+ program, we see her confidence, skills and vision for the future blossom. The staff at her special education public school are genuine heroes. To ensure a brighter future for all children in our state, we must address the critical issue of inadequate school funding, particularly in the realm of special education.

Fabiola Escalon


Expansion draws fire

Like a bombshell detonating in our front yard, we learn that, “Surprise, there’s going to be a new prison facility built in Harlingen (maximum security state hospital facility).” On your street — next to your home, next to an elementary school — for easy access to more victims of imprisoned criminals. Surprise!

When was this decided and by whom? When were the citizens of Harlingen consulted about this? What opportunity were we given to vet the consequences of this irrational and morally ignorant decision?

We are now informed in virtual secrecy the plans are drawn, the money allocated ($120 million) and construction ready to start on a 50-bed prison hospital (200+ on waiting list) at the state center less than a block from an elementary school — Maximum security, of course — 16-foot-high enclosure — construction to start in 12 months.

Where was this covered in the news? Who will bear the moral and financial liability when an escapee walks into the school next door and creates another Columbine, Uvalde, et al., for parents to grieve and suffer over?

Prisoners do and will escape. That’s why prisons are always built in relative isolation, never in crowded communities; that’s why they always build high walls and hire security workers, which are always breeched (even Alcatraz).

This action is dangerously wrong and the haste and clandestine development attest to the recognition of the wrongs by those (government and otherwise) responsible.

I’m surprised the Environmental Protection Agency has allowed this location to be used for this purpose (do they even know?). Whoever approved it must not think the proximity of a large group of vulnerable children to a criminal environment is a problem. What future headlines that will make!

This must be stopped before the tragedies occur.

Nancy S. Klein

Garner F. Klein


Editor’s note: The Rio Grande State Center in Harlingen is adding 50 beds to its existing facility on Rangerville Road.

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