Lawmakers will make many choices when they decide on a final state budget in the coming days. One of them will be whether or not to keep open the Wright School, a residential facility in Durham that treats children from across the state who have serious emotional and behavioral disorders.
The Wright School is 50 years old and has treated thousands of students. Kids like Theresa, who suffers from debilitating anxiety that leads to violent emotional outbursts.
Susan Alberts is her mother.
“I used to worry when she was seven – when she’s 14, she’s going to have an explosion and she’s going to grab a knife and she’s going to kill me and that will ruin her life,” said Alberts. “It’s not because she wants to do that, it’s because she can’t manage her emotions the way most people can.”
Alberts says her daughter’s experience at the Wright School greatly improved her condition. Theresa spent eight months there two years ago, and is now in a traditional school setting and doing well.
Lawmakers who want to close the Wright School say at $45,000 a year for 60 children, it’s too expensive. The proposed Senate budget would close the school; the House budget keeps it open. If the final budget does not include funding for the Wright School, it will close in July.