A school bans a kid with cerebral palsy from using her walker7:45 am - 03/27/2012
Mom Plans to Sue School District
HOUSTON - The mother of a child with cerebral palsy is preparing to file a lawsuit. She's outraged after she says New Caney ISD told her five-year-old daughter she could no longer use a walker at school.
Kristi Roberts recorded her conversation with special education director Gary Lemley and uploaded it to YouTube. She did so as a last resort after two years of arguing with the district about her daughter's care.
"Basically she can't use the walker because we don't think it's safe," Lemley is heard saying on the audio recording.
"Why isn't it safe?" asked Roberts.
"I just told you. We don't feel like it's safe any longer," said Lemley.
The recording has been clicked on more than 10,000 times, and support is pouring in online in the form of comments.
"The ones I read really touched me, that strangers care about this," said Roberts.
Lakay Roberts has been using her walker at Kings Manor Elementary School for the past two years. She recently fell down in the parking lot when the equipment collapsed.
"How many kids fall down at recess? Do you make them take their shoes off and buy new ones?" asked Roberts.
"No ma'am. They're not using walkers," said Lemley.
Ana Calvo heard about Lakay's story. Calvo was born without arms and legs and is now the president of the Ms. Wheelchair Texas Foundation.
"The law states she has the right to go to school in the least restrictive environment, and if it's a walker that's her accommodation to get from point A to point B then that is what she needs," said Calvo.
Calvo has invited Lakay and her mother to be guests at the foundation's gala Saturday night.
Roberts admits the attention is overwhelming.
"I don't want this at all. I want Gary Lemley to resign. I'd like an apology, and I would like her to use her walker again and get things changed in the special education department," said Roberts.
Advocates are encouraging the mother not to back down.
"The parents I've seen who've gotten the farthest with their kids are the parents whose voices are the absolute loudest. They have to fight back," said Kelly Klein, the development director for Easter Seals of Greater Houston.
New Caney ISD declined to comment further for this story. They referred us to their previous statement below:
New Caney ISD's focus is and always will be to meet the needs of our students and to protect them. However, we cannot comment on any case involving confidential student information. There are strict laws protecting student privacy, beginning at the federal level with FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) and reinforced by Texas law and NCISD policy. We believe these laws are in place for a reason -- to protect children from a public discussion regarding their confidential records. While a parent may choose to share information about his or her child, we cannot. We remain committed to respecting the ethical and legal guidelines and laws that protect our students' right to privacy. To that end, it is important to know that the video and audio recording at issue was not sanctioned or authorized by the District to be released for public dissemination. Furthermore, the District does not agree that the recording at issue here is a complete recounting of the entire underlying confidential discussion and is therefore neither representative nor accurate towards explaining the District's ongoing efforts to serve its students.
Mom's youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/dkblrober
This type of thing really pisses me off. Apparently, according to the second source, this is just the tip of the ice berg in regards to how poorly this school has handled this situation. There are youtube videos under the cut but be warned, there is an incredibly cute bby taking her first steps and then, in a second video, she learns how to open doors.
There's also a petition linked. i hope this story gets more coverage, this kid has so much potential.