You can see it in his smile. Although Emmanuel Aboelnasr, 3, can't walk on his own, he sure loves trying to learn.
Emmanuel has cerebral palsy and other impairments. He qualified for special education pre-school in September – but instead of learning in a classroom, he's been sitting at home. That's nearly four months of missed educational opportunities.
His mother, Boosey Youssef, blames city education bureaucrats for letting him slip through the cracks.
"It’s so frustrating to fight for my special education’s sons rights. So, the district should help us! We have enough stress being a parent of a special education kid who cannot walk, talk, and do like other kids. So, they should help us, not turning our life to nightmare like that," she says.
The issue, she says, is that the education department failed to provide him a nurse to accompany him during school hours. Youssef says a nurse is essential. Emmanuel is prone to seizures that require immediate medical attention.
Youssef’s case isn't uncommon.
Randi Levine is with Advocates for Children of New York says her group has received an increasing number of complaints against the education department from parents whose children have been forced to stay home, partially because of a nursing shortage.
Keeping children home, she says, can affect social and cognitive development, with life-long implications.
"When children are not placed in the settings where they are learning these skills, their delays only grow and they are not able to develop these critical skills that they're going to need for school and the rest of their lives," Levine says.
When asked about Emmanuel’s case, the education department tells NY1: ““We are dedicated to ensuring the needs of students with disabilities are met and that all students arrive at school safely. We have been working closely with the school and family to swiftly address these concerns.”
Still, Youssef questions the city’s efforts, and says bureaucrats must show compassion for her son's right to an education.
"When you work with special education kids and parents, you need to have a heart because this is not a job [it’s their right]," she said.