Why? School officials state "Basically she can't use the walker because we don't believe it is safe."
Safe? I don't think there are too many children who haven't fallen at school, whether on a playground or parking lot, it happens. Kids fall. They fall at home. They fall at school. They fall at camp. But when it happens to a child who is not disabled we do not make them go back to being transported around in a stroller. This is what the New Caney Independent School District is asking LaKay to do by making her go back to a wheelchair. They want to take away LaKay Roberts' independence. They want to make her dependent on a wheelchair for mobility.
LaKay Roberts has cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Her mom has worked hard with her daughter, her child's physicians and therapists to make LaKay as mobile as possible. To her mom this means LaKay shouldn't have to be restricted to a wheelchair during the school day. Yet this is just what school officials want to do. LaKay has used a walker for the past two years, yet school officials insist that she regress back to a wheelchair.
LaKay's Mom is begging school officials to please let her daughter walk. She said "If she can walk now, please, let her walk. Don't strap her in a wheelchair. We've worked so hard. She's worked so hard."
Kristi Roberts tried to convince the New Caney Independent School District but they remained unmoved. They insist the child must use her wheelchair despite laws that state a child must be in 'the least restrictive environment.' It seems to me a wheelchair is certainly more restrictive than a walker.
The New Caney Independent School District (odd name for a district that is restricting a child's independence) did not listen to Kristi's pleas for her daughter's independence, they insisted that because young LaKay Roberts had fallen in a school parking lot it wasn't safe for the child to use a walker. To quote officials "Basically she can't use the walker because we don't believe it's safe."
You and I both know what the New Caney School District is doing is applying one standard to disabled children and another standard to the non-disabled school population. The school district is determined to force Kristi Roberts and her daughter to take this case to court. The district insists they have LaKay's best interests at heart and that they haven't gotten an OK from her physician for the child to use her walker without her braces. I hope LaKay's parents have a great lawyer. Usually I'm not a big fan of lawsuits, but in this case...BRING IT ON!
Paula Robson from the District Attorney's office stated “The decision was arrived at by this child’s special education team was that the child would be evaluated further and that there would be more information forthcoming from her private physicians and therapists to make sure she was being served safely and appropriately before the use of the walker continued.”
Her mother's statement? “She deserves the best life she can live,” Kristi told Shamlian. “And nobody can define that but her.”
As I read this I was reminded of Howard Beale in the movie "Network" where he says "All I know is first you've got to say "I'm a HUMAN BEING DAMN IT! My life has VALUE!" Obviously the school district has decided that LaKay's independence in life is not as valuable as a non-disabled child. And if that doesn't make you want to get out there and shout in the streets I don't know what will. As a parent of a disabled child I am angry. I'm MAD! And I'm just not going to take it anymore!
So if you see a window sash thrown up in Drexel Hill tonight and a woman yelling out Howard Beale's speech from the movie Network you'll know what's going on. I've finally had it with school systems that have one set of rules for kids in regular ed and another set for the special education population! I'm mad as HELL and I'm NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!
The real question is ARE YOU? Are you going to join the outcry against this school system? Or are you going to let them trample this child's right to an equal education? Or are you going to let her school district get away with it?
And if today LaKay, tomorrow maybe it will be a right of YOUR child or grandchild that's taken away.... and then you'll wonder why. Why no one cares. Why no one is doing anything. Why no one else is mad as hell for them. Maybe it's because you have to care about others first, and no one responded when LaKay needed your help. So speak up, speak out, and throw up your window sashes...and YELL "I'm mad as HELL and I'm NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!" Just like Howard Beale. Do it for LaKay. Do it for your children. Do it so everyone has equal rights to an education.
You have power! Use it! Use your voice. Use your pen. Use your blog or computer. Let the New Caney Independent School District hear how you feel about the way they are handling this situation.