FLORIDA CITY (CBS4) – A computer designed for special needs students was stolen from a Florida City school last weekend, according to a police report filed by the school’s director.

The I-Start Smart computer was one of two computers made specifically for children with learning disabilities at The ARC of South Florida’s Ace Academy.

“When I came in on Monday and I saw that we did not have this computer, it devastated me,” Ace Academy Director Maria Barros said. “It took a lot of effort to make sure our children at least had 2 computers.”

Students were huddled around the one remaining computer Friday. Barros said that each computer is worth about $3,000. Its software and color-coded keyboard help foster learning for special needs students.

“It teach him how to read and it teach me how to do math and science,” student Kevion Ladacker said.

School administrators believe the burglar came in through an exterior door that leads right in to the classroom. There were no signs of forced entry according to the police report.

Barros said she thinks the thief knew exactly what he or she was looking for.

“That’s the sad part,” Barros explained. “It was someone who knows us, knows we have children here with special needs.”

The computer was screwed in to a special table, but it was carefully removed without damage to the table.

“They took everything,” Barros said. “They took the mouse. They took the keyboard. They even took the pad.”

“What really upsets me is the simple fact they’re taking from kids,” Kevion Ladacker’s mother Donna Moses said. “It’s a learning environment.”

The school can’t afford to buy another computer right now. But parents, students and staff say they’ll do what it takes to eventually raise the funds.

“We may start some bake sales, something, anything to try to replace that computer,” Barros said.

Moses hoped someone in the community might be generous enough to donate a computer like the one her son loved to use.

Kevion shared his mother’s hope.

“Ask somebody can they donate a computer for us,” Kevion said.

That computer is needed now more than ever. Enrollment is up from 16 students to 40, and classes resume August 20th.

To help the ACE Academy, contact Maria Barros at 305-246-3530.


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