The Westbury Village's Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) voted unanimously last week in favor of SCO Family of Services' proposal to operate a residential school for teenagers with high functioning autism (HFA) or Asperger's Syndrome out of St. Brigid's convent.
Approval of the use variance - not a change in zoning - to property owner St. Brigid's Parish means that the Glen Cove-based SCO, a non-profit Catholic yet non-sectarian human services agency, will be allowed to operate the Westbrook Preparatory School, New York State's first co-ed residential school for 24 bright, yet fragile, adolescents ages 14-21 with high-functioning autism/Asperger's Syndrome, over a 10-year lease period. Priority will be given to Long Island teenagers who meet specific criteria.
"The reason we were interested in Westbury is because it is a Long Island community with a reputation for diversity and acceptance. The support we received proved that to be so vividly true," said SCO's executive director, Robert McMahon, adding, "We are delighted with the zoning board approval. This will be a great opportunity and resource for the Long Island kids and their families."
According to SCO officials, the school will be state- and federally funded as well as supported by a student's home school district and that Westbrook Prep will not drain local resources as students would not utilize Westbury buildings or facilities. Additionally, SCO has reached out to local universities and colleges, as well as the county to develop programs and agreements for use of facilities and grounds.
The next step for SCO is to meet with the village planning board; approval by the planning board is required for the agency to move forward in obtaining building permits and a lease.