Share, email, print, bookmark SOURCE reports.

[broadstreet zone=”53820″]

FRAMINGHAM – My name Is Laura Green, and I am a Disability Advocate living in Framingham. I have worked for five non-profits in disability services, and currently work for three. I have been involved in the disability community for 10 years. I am appalled by the harmful statements from Framingham Democratic Committee chair, Mike Hugo. 

I attended Framingham Public Schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. It wasn’t until 10th grade where I had my first class with a student with a disability-and it completely altered the course of my life in the best way. 

I met my best friend who happens to have Down syndrome, Jordan Caira. Because I had gone through almost all of my education being completely separated from students in special education, this was a new experience for me. I watched as she completely transformed the classroom in the best way possible. In a class where almost all of the students were strangers to one another, she didn’t treat any one of us like a stranger. She was excited to work with any of us and participate. She made any task fun, and accepted everyone in that class unconditionally. In her eyes, we were all equals, and it encouraged us to look at each other the same way. My sophomore year was really tough for me, I was depressed, and a lot of days I struggled to even get myself to go to school-but I did-because I knew I would see Jordan that day and it would make my whole day better.

[broadstreet zone=”53230″]

There was one day, Jordan cried in class. She had an amazing aide, but Jordan was really upset. The whole class came together to do everything they could to make her feel better. Offering hugs, wiping her tears, listening to her and what was bothering her. A class full of teenagers from differing grades and backgrounds all came together to help our friend, Jordan. I never experienced another moment like that in all of my time being a student in Framingham.

Jordan opened up a whole world for me. I got involved volunteering with people with Down syndrome and other disabilities. I went through the rest of high school with her watching her change perspectives of students and teachers about students with disabilities. She shattered expectations.

What Mr. Hugo has failed to see is how students in special education in Framingham positively impact the students and staff around them.

There are numerous studies (such as the Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program) that have found inclusion of students with special needs not only is positive for them, but teaches so much to students in general education as well. It teaches them to develop higher levels of respect and understanding for others, promotes patience and the ability to compromise, reduces bullying, and increases appreciation for diversity and differences in others.

It is saddening to know that to Mr. Hugo, that is not worth Framingham’s money. 

[broadstreet zone=”54526“]

Framingham has a lot to learn about inclusive education as it is. We graduated in 2015. Jordan was the first special education student in Framingham to be fully included in general education classes, and that didn’t come without her parents fighting tooth and nail for it every step along the way, and dealing with every challenge it came with. However, without her inclusion, I wouldn’t have found what I was meant to pursue and be the person I am today. 

What Mr. Hugo’s apology is lacking is the promise to educate himself on the disability community in Framingham.

His offensive remarks come from a place of miseducation and misunderstanding about all our community offers.

I urge him to open himself to it.

[broadstreet zone=”59947″]

I presented in June 2022 at the National Down Syndrome Conference about the power of inclusive friendships to adults with Down syndrome from across the country. Jordan was by my side, and we just celebrated being best friends for 10 years.

We will attend the Down Syndrome Advocacy Conference in Washington D.C. this year. It is my hope that in the future, more Framingham students can find their Jordan. That doesn’t come without inclusive education and students with disabilities in Framingham Public Schools. 

Mr. Hugo’s statements, although apologized for, have already been damaging and hurtful to our community. People with disabilities are allowed to take up space and live their lives to the fullest capacity possible.

I feel sorry that he is unable to see that, as the disability community is an extraordinary place. I encourage him to do better moving forward. 


Laura Green 

Disability Advocate 


By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.