San Jose teacher hosts Halloween dance for special needs students

Zach Fuentes Image
Wednesday, November 1, 2023
SJ teacher hosts Halloween dance for special needs students
Dozens of special needs classes in the San Jose got to celebrate Halloween with a dance thanks to one teacher's planning.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Dozens of special needs classes in the South Bay got to celebrate Halloween in an incredible way.

One special education teacher with eight students, hosted 20 other classes from his school district at a Halloween dance.

For many of those students, the school dance was the first they've ever been able to attend.

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One San Jose teacher is organizing the second annual Halloween dance party for special needs students in the district.

The dance saw a parade of colorful costumes worn by excited students taking over LeyVa Middle School's gym.

The parents were just as excited as the students.

"It's so precious to watch all of them have so much fun," said parent Melissa Leslie.

That's because they say students with special needs rarely, if ever, get to participate in school events or activities.

"He's 16," said parent Karen Rodezno of her son Alexis, "All my life, I've actually fought for the fact that he gets included in a lot of things like sports. Obviously, they never include children with special needs or include having an inclusion for that, so I'm happy that they actually did this for them because they get to enjoy it."

The driving force behind the event was special education teacher Rolly Vital.

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He first organized a Halloween Dance for his eight special needs students last year; six other classes got to join in.

This year though, he knew they could go bigger and welcome even more students.

"I got approval to invite all of the entire Evergreen School District," he said, "So we went from six classes to 20."

The party is fully funded by donations.

A week before the dance, ABC7 met with Vital who was trying to raise $5,000 for the event.

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After that story, a community of people came together to surpass that goal.

They were able to pay for bus transportation to bring students to the dance, bring in a DJ, prizes and so much more.

"I'm so thankful to all of you, parents, friends, coworkers, anybody who'd seen the story last week and donated" he said, "We more than doubled, I think we tripled our goal."

Families say they hope this Halloween's event shows others what's possible.

"I'm hoping that this is the start of the kids with special needs to be a part of these events in the future," said parent Claudia Lopez

For now, Mr. Vital says the families can count on this event to make its return next year.

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