Sunday, March 25, 2012

A school bans a kid with cerebral palsy from using her walker, a mom takes action


A mom of a kid with cerebral palsy is gearing up to file a lawsuit against her school district, because a special education director is saying her little girl can't use her walker. Pick your jaw up off the floor and read on.

LaKay Roberts, who's 5, uses her walker to, er, walk. You know, as kids with CP often do. She's been using it for three years, and attends Kings Manor Elementary School in Kingwood, near Houston. Occasionally, she also uses a wheelchair.

Her mom, Kristi Roberts, says that weeks ago the school district, New Caney ISD, told her that LaKay could no longer use her walker at school. Kristi taped a meeting with the district special education director, Gary Lemley; she uploaded part of it to YouTube. An excerpt:

Kristi: "Why can't she use a walker?"
Lemley: "We don't feel like it's safe any longer." [LaKay had fallen in the parking lot when her walker collapsed, while she was with her mom.]
Kristi: "How many kids fall down at recess? Do you make them take their shoes off and buy new ones?"
Lemley: "No, ma'am."
Kristi: "OK!"
Lemley: "They're not using walkers."

Up until this part of the video, I was thinking the special ed director was being a blockheaded bureaucrat, perhaps concerned that the district could get sued if LaKay hurt herself on the premises. Obviously, if LaKay's walker is collapsing it needs to be fixed, although barring it seems excessive (and hel-lo, discrimination). Here—listen for yourself (and check out how adorable LaKay is):


The part of the YouTube video that convinced me something was seriously wrong with this guy was when he said to Kristi, "You're not concerned about LaKay."

What?! 

Passing judgment on the mother's concern for her child isn't just crossing a line, it's bulldozing a line. 

If you have a kid who has cerebral palsy or any gross motor challenges, you know just what sort of efforts and prayers go into your child's ability to take steps, let alone walk. I will never forget the sight of Max in our living room taking his first steps in his walker, the same kind LaKay uses (a Kaye Posterior Walker). They're the steps I never thought I'd see after doctors had pretty much knocked the hope out of me. 

The walker enabled Max to learn to walk independently, just as it is enabling LaKay to move on her own and strengthen her muscles. That child has every right to use a walker in school to get around, same as any kid has a right to put one foot in front of the other and go.  

Kristi Roberts doesn't have the money to sue but I can almost guarantee that as the story gets attention, some lawyer (if not many) will offer to take the case.

Here's where you can send the superintendent of the school district an email, urging him to reconsider.

I wish this mama strength and power to fight for her child. 

It is a shame this is a battle that has to be fought.


Update: Caught up in this story, I neglected to mention that today is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day—and obviously, there is much awareness still to be raised. If you're new here, check out my CP Awareness Day post on why my son is not a tragedy. Meanwhile, after reading this Kristina Chew at Care2 set up a petition asking the district to let LaKay use her walker. You can sign it here.

81 comments:

  1. Umm... wow. Would they prefer she crawl to class?

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  2. They probably want to put her in a wheelchair. A friend of mine's son uses a walker and he is allowed to have it at school but he also had to have a wheelchair made so they can get him out of school quickly in an emergency.

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  3. As we say here in the North of England 'I'm gobsmacked!'
    I'd go with Elizabeth on this one. A kid in a walker gets in the way and is slow. It's more convenient to stick them in a wheelchair and push them around.
    This sort of thing makes me so angry and is one reason why we're moving my son to a Special School. When he does go I may well sign his card to his teachers with 'so long and sorry for the inconvenience'

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  4. Sadly it seems some things do not change. Almost 20 years ago when I was fighting with the nursery schools about my oldest son, the school psychologist's first question to me, was did I think my son's issues were all about me?

    Just like LaKay's mom , the administrators when challenged about their own stupidity go on the attack and try to blame issues on the parents selfishness.

    Glad this parent uploaded everything to YouTube. I hope she gets the press she needs.

    Meanwhile that psychologist tried to demean my concern about my child got quite the earful from me.Sadly as with most of these inadequate people who work in schools I doubt her attitude towards noncompliant parents changed.

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    1. I here you it was about 20 yrs ago i was fighting with my son's first grade teacher. at a parent teacher meeting. i called it because my son came home with his hair cut off in chunks, all over his head . she was so absorbed in her self that my son walked right up in front of her and got her big sissores and set under his desk and cut his hair. Well at the meeting she had the nerve to tell me , she didnt think he was smart enough , to be able to be tought . he was to stupid. well my husband had to pull me off of her. I had him removed from her, class and i am proud to enform ,every one even with his learning disabilites , he graduated with a 3.0 and he even got an A+ on his senior project . and were most of the kids who were staight A's didnt even finish there's . In my years of dealing with the school system . they have to provide anything a disabled child needs for school and she can enforce it . she needs to get ahold of her districk disability director .

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  5. "the dignity of risk" it is what we should fight for, perhaps above all others...

    I would fight for the dignity of risk for my child over any 'educational needs', or access issues in a heartbeat.

    I can always 'build a bridge/ramp' or tutor him some more... I can't rebuild a life lost to misguided OH&S and Duty of Care, a life lost because of the fears of others - I can't rebuild a life where "living" is denied.

    Here's a suggestion to that school... buy a box of bandaids and let LaKay have a life with the dignity of risk.

    btw for those interested... there's plenty of articles to read online on the dignity of risk - always worth a re-read.
    Cheers
    Gina

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  6. I posted a link back here and to the Youtube vid at free ranged kids. They have taken up causes in the past, maybe some one there can help this Mom.

    BTW New Caney isn't in Houston. It is a separate town in a different county.

    As far as a kid using a walker being slow?! We have a student who uses the same walker. Our problem with him is he runs and gets it going then lifts up and rides it down the breeze way. We make him go back and walk like any other student who ran down the hall.

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  7. This is insane. It is as if the school district *wants* to be sued!

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  8. Thanks for brining this to my attention. It really makes my blood boil. I find it an assault on our children just like it would be to tie down the hands of deaf signing children! Awful!

    I've sent an email to both people on the link. Hope more do the same.

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  9. My blood is boiling!!!!! I just called and left a message for Mr. Lemley's secretary. I asked if they take pencils away from children so they can't write. I told them this is straight up discrimination, and they need to take into account the best interest of the child, which is Mr. Lemley's JOB to do.

    Oh, I am ANGRY!

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  10. Wow. That is just so messed up.

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  11. Utterly gobsmacked at the very idea. Holy.Cow.

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  12. Students with CP whom I have known in my own school are encouraged by the in-house PT to use the walkers as often as they can. There is a wheelchair available for fire drills and long walking trips, but otherwise, the goal should be for her to be walking.
    Every time this little girl walks, she's increasing strength and independence. Plopping her into a wheelchair for 6 hours a day does nothing to improve her quality of life. Instead it leads to muscle atrophy and dependence upon others to be the way of life for her.
    I am imagining recess time, where she'll sit sadly in a wheelchair while her friends run around the playground. She is *able* to run and play, but she's not *allowed*. Believe me when I tell you that parents make a pretty big stink when their able children are not allowed to participate in recess because of a decision made by a teacher or administrator.

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    1. I totally agree with your sentiment that this little girl needs to and should be able to use her walker at school, and any other place she is in society.

      However, please don't disparage the lives of those who are in a wheelchair, like my son. He is paralyzed from the waist down because of Spina Bifida and goes to school in a wheelchair. His life is not sad or less valuable because he is in a wheelchair. He plays at recess with the other kids as much as he can.

      In situations like these it's important to have great teachers working with your kid. They will find ways to include your child and make sure they are having fun, wheelchair or not.

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    2. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to disparage those in a wheelchair due to paralysis - I was only thinking of the frustration this girl would have in being restricted from physical activity when she is able but suppressed by those who fail to understand. I have seen students who are wheelchair-bound left to sit alone on the playground. I have also seen kids in wheelchairs being pushed around on the blacktop with their friends while they all laugh together. I agree with you - direction from a good teacher makes all the difference. (Unfortunately, I doubt if the teachers in the school described here would think about it.)

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    3. falling one is not the end of using something. A person fall off a bike or horse but can still use it again. If she fall every 30 minutes he have a reason to say no, or say only for 10 minutes at a time. the child should be able to use both walker and wheelchair and learn they are not less value.
      I was watching a story about a wheelchair user in Russia fall once so they wanted to home school him his dad said all children fall. so he stayed at the school. People do play fast sports in self-propelled wheelchairs even to elite level so they are not sad. Children should learn about disabilities and exercising what they can use.

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  13. I'm thinking this would limit her access to the gen Ed curriculum. Isn't that an IDEA violation?

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  14. In my experience, able bodied bureaucrats/functionaries/administrators always cite safety concern when making these decisions. It happens a lot with air travel as well. Disabled people and their "equipment" are often seen as an impediment to escape in the infantisimal eventuality of some plausible, however unlikely, emergency. This decisions are always based on the shoddiest of logic and the over hyped-up vision of the "worst case scenario", then used as justification to deny people their basic human rights. Sad really and yes i beleive it is illegal. Of course recourse to the law (ie. taking the school board to court) is a process that is simply beyond the means of most people...you have little option but to seek the wrath of public opinion for your cause. I took the opportuntiy to send the the New Caney ISD an e-mail and I hope lots of other folks take the opportunity to do the same. Here is the link: http://www.newcaneyisd.org/apps/contact/

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    1. It is illegal. There was one situation where the flight attendant forced a disabled 3 year old to sit in a seat even though she cant sit independently. The parents argument was wrongfully ignored as well. I read it and I was so cross to the point of seeing red. I wonder what would have happened if May, the girl had been hurt, or even worse died if there had been a emergency.

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  15. I am absolutely shocked at this, this mother wants her daughter to continue to progress as I am sure it has taken countless hours upon hours of therapy to get her to where she is right now. And they want to put her in a wheelchair b/c it is easier. But you know what...easier or not it will make her regress if she has been walking on her own for so long. Why take that away from her!? That is sickening that he is affiliated with any "Special Education" department or has any say whatsoever. It is clearly obvious that he does not care, he has no compassion or respect. We have gone through a lot with our son who has special needs and it is sadly a fight to get him whatever he needs. I so feel for this mother. Whatever you do...don't ever give up fighting for your daughter. It is going to be hard, especially if you have to stay in that district..but you are strong, you can do it, you are her voice

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  16. Unbelievable. I am not sure how this isn't some discrimination, a violation of IDEA, the ADA or a combination of all of the above.

    The very idea that a child gaining a skill (an important one like, IDK, *walking*) would be quite literally hobbled in the name of "safety" is ridiculous. I'd like to see pictures of their playground equipment. I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that the playground contains many potential hazards. As does the gymnasium, auditorium, cafeteria and hallway.

    People clearly suck. Good luck to this family. I hope some awesome advocates and attorneys get together and sue the holy hell out of this district.

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  17. As Elise said, sadly some things don't change...it seems each generation fights some of the same battles. Thirty years ago I was trying to sign my son Jesse, who has mild CP, up for day care. At 20 months, he was not yet walking. The day care was hesitant: "He might fall down and get hurt." I answered that actually, since he was still just crawling, it was a much shorter distance to fall, wasn't it? And then my son Marcus, who has a right hemiplegia, was at a public school Montessori program, and the staff did NOT want him there. Marcus was able to do stairs, holding onto the rail, but he needed to be on the left side of the stairway to use the rail with his less involved arm/hand. The staff was so mean...they insisted that he HAD to go up and down on the right like everyone else. Sigh. Keep up the fight!

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  18. Sorry, my comment was supposed to be in reply to trishpip, not the original blog post.

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  19. There are disability rights lawyers who will work pro-bono. This is most definitely a violation of the IDEA act. Mindless functionaries are everywhere.

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  20. this 1s awful they shold talk to take parents and a ot the figure out the best way to use it they shouldn't be allow to kick her out

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  21. Astonishing -- that she would get it on tape!

    My son used a walker after his hip/knee surgery for months at school, and it was never an issue.

    What Gina wrote about the dignity of risk is soooo important. Keep us posted please. xo

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  22. Thank you so much for providing the contact info. in order to be able to email this A-hole! I will be sending one off as soon as I finish typing this comment. I am appalled.

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  23. This made me shake my head. What in the world is this guy thinking?

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  24. Might want to do a little YouTube browsing, the mom seems to have perpetual problems with the school system. They might not be willing to work with her and are quick to take it to court if the first thing she does is run to YouTube and make a video about her complaints.

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    1. It could also seem that she is at her wit's end, not seeing any other recourse. Do know that taping oneself in a discussion regarding one's child is quite an emotional turmoil in and of itself. I myself have had to resort to taping conversations, though I have never had to use them in any way. Still, I know others who have quite successfully used such tapings as evidence in court rooms regarding the ludicrousness they face by "know-it-all" administrators. So, who are we to judge?

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  25. Wheelchairs are a wonderful tool for mobility.

    They are TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE as a tool for control. And that's clearly what this school wants to use it for.

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  26. I just sent an email and posted the link on Facebook. I suggest everyone do the same. Let's hope his inbox is flooded Monday morning.

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  27. The wost thing about this is that this is not the first time conflict has happened I am mad. Ellen keep us posted on how it all goes

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  28. As I read this, I was not at all surprised.
    Unfortunately, I run into similar things at my school.
    My daughter's PT does not want my daughter playing on the floor with the other kids in her class because she is afraid she will be stepped on or will fall over.
    She also would rather my kid be put in a piece of floor equipment than practice sitting when she is on the floor. The PT wants me to get equipment to position her in at home, also. I have held my ground. She is only strapped into something when she is in her wheelchair or in her Rifton chair. I am told, though, that she is put into a bean bag on the floor. Also, I know that she isn't getting the floor time that I want her too. I can tell that she wasn't (until recently) practicing sitting. She lost a lot of independent floor skills when she started school this year.
    I, too, have been nearly accused numerous times of neglecting my daughter's safety when this is totally not true.

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    1. That makes me livid. It seems to me that your daughter's PT should be dismissed because I can see quite clearly she does not care about your child's development. Her argument that your daughter will be hurt or fall over doesnt even make sense, she's on the floor how can she fall over?? Also she is FAR more likely to get hurt if she is hidden in something on the floor.

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  29. Gina @ Inky Ed--You are so right about the dignity of risk! This girl deserves the right to be able to stumble and fall and get up and try again! I'm nervous about my child sending his power chair over a curb, but he deserves the opportunity to try! A lot of these decisions are made on pure ignorance and convenience. It's infuriating.

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  30. Anonymous, I actually did look through the web- including youtube- and you know what? The problems she was having a year ago only make this situation WORSE. These people should KNOW BETTER, and be getting this child properly accommodated, not making the same mistake TWICE.

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  31. And by the way, I hate anonymous posters. It becomes really hard to respond when one says something that requires response- because which "anonymous" do you refer to?

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  32. I am quite sure that, with all our voices raised, the school district will be taking another long, hard look at this case (as will local officials, if it is in violation of IDEA or ADA). I'm not clear on what the issue is with LaKay's walker; if it is unsafe, it should obviously be replaced. No matter what, the special ed director seemed totally out of line in the YouTube clip.

    I'd like to think what's happened is rare but as is clear from some of your experiences, it doesn't seem so.

    BoyOnARoll: Well said. No matter how our kids get around, walker or wheelchair, they deserve inclusion.

    And amen, Gina: "The dignity of risk" is a key thing parents of kids with special needs always need to push for. I wish it weren't such an uphill battle.

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    1. It was just a one time incident!

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  33. It could be expensive to file due process or go to court. However, it should not cost anything to file a Formal State Complaint and/or a Due Process Complaint with the State's Department of Education as a potential violation of Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Every state has a process for parents to file a Formal State and/or Due Process Complaint. They will also have access to Mediation and a Resolution Agreement process when they file a Due Process Complaint. In addition, the mother should look for the nearest Parent Training and Information Center to get advocacy help for her child. All of those avenues and resources should be free to the parent. This could also be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, since it appears to be an accessibility issue, and/or a violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act for discrimination. While her State's Department of Education could require the school district to remedy the situation, violations of ADA and 504 could potentially lead to reimbursement of expenses for the family. The PTI should be able to help the parent figure out which is the best route(s) to take in her state, and how to do it.

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  34. They probably want her in the wheelchair because she's less trouble. If she's severely limited in what she can do she's less work. It probably has nothing to do with her safety. I bet someone complained about the extra stuff they have to do for this special needs child over the typical child. I have seen it - the teacher's assistant at my son's school complained when I sent banana to school for his snack because with his hand issues she had to help start peeling it. The 5 seconds it takes to start the banana peeling was too much for this woman.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  35. I'm pretty sure it's a liability thing. Someone saw her fall in her mother's care and worried, "What if she falls in OUR care? This mom, who is so demanding about her kid getting only the best from us, will take us to the cleaners. We can't let that happen."
    When my son was in pre-school, he broke his leg on school property. We'd been trying to get him an out-of-district placement and the Board of Ed was having none of it, but after this happened it got a lot easier because we were way less likely to sue them if they were nice to us.
    However, when we brought him to school in his stroller to get him around for the first few days, the classroom teachers asked the administration if he could be kept home! They were too worried about how they would deal with him.

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  36. Petition signed.
    My son uses his walker at school everyday....and only his walker. I can't imagine our lives without it. This is utterly outrageous and horrifying!!! Absolute discrimination. I hope the district realizes this and turns it around.

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  37. She doesn't need a lawyer. She can contact the ADA. They will be all over that school in a hot second. Apparently, this school does not understand what LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT means.

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  38. Unfortunately, schools have to worry about being sued by parents should anything, even an innocent accident, happen. That is the real issue here. The world is far too happy to sue each other and this is the result. To be safe, this is what schools need to do.

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  39. Dear Anonymous above....really? You obviously have no experience with young children. Maybe we should have all the kids in plastic bubbles and allow them not to touch each other? Get a clue.

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  40. I do think that the school has a reason to be concerned about the child falling and the liability that could create, BUT taking her walker away completely is absurd, not to mention against ADA. While I don't know all the facts, it the school could have beeseems to me that n a bit more compassionate during the meeting and tried to work out a plan with the Mom where the child would use her walker as much as safely possible, but also use her wheelchair in certain circumstances. The school crossed the line by demanding it not be used at all during school.

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  41. I don't have children however I have worked as a TA. I've had students in wheelchairs as well as walkers and braces. It comes with the territory, when you have special needs students. Just because it's 'easier' or 'more convenient' for the school or the TA to push a child around in a wheelchair because they don't have the patience to wait for a child in a walker or brace does not mean that it's the best option for the child.
    A good TA won't even be affected by that! I never took issue with the slower pace of a student with a walker. I took that time to talk to the child, to watch them and get a sense of their mood that day or their physical progress etc. A good TA uses that 'slow time' as a learning tool, as opposed to seeing it as a burden. A TA who finds peeling a banana to be too much of a chore needs to reevaluate 1. her choice of 'career' and 2. her priorities. She should look at the child and the roadblocks they face and the fact that child can not do something that she can. The child is looking to her for help and guidance and be glad that she can peel that banana! She's in a position where she is the world to a child in that moment. What a great place to be!
    Shame on this school for trying to take away a child's freedom. And not just her freedom but the esteem that she has worked up by accomplishing the magnificent feat of being able to walk!! She's so young, she's not going to fully understand why she's not allowed to use her walker. The implications are enormous! Not just to her physical development but her mental and emotional development as well! Children of all abilities need to be encouraged to be independent!
    I can't tell you how angry this article makes me! I signed the petition and am passing this along to as many people as I can think- it makes me so livid!!!

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  42. Wow. I am a disabled rights advocate and blogger,i have cerebral palsy and rheumatoid arthritis. a friend or mine sent me this on facebook and for years we advocates,disabled individuals have been on Texas's be-hind for MANY things. I cant imagine what your going through or others in Texas but i will tell you this. I will support your case in any way. I singed up to get your updates. here are ways to get a hold of me-


    fACEBOOK-https://www.facebook.com/GraceGracewhattaface

    MY BLOG-http://thehandiestone.typepad.com/blog/

    IF you or anyone could email me any Texas newspaper links id be happy to blog ths tonight
    grace.grantham@gmail.com

    I try to go through the papers here in the states and world wide but some papers do not print stories like this and its a shame

    Grace

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  43. Thank you for spreading the word about this school's awful and almost certainly illegal decision to take away LaKay's walker.

    I find it ironic that the school is breaking the law and going to be sued...because it's supposedly afraid of getting sued?
    The "liability" excuse is such a lazy excuse and your post inspired me to blog about it over at www.littlelegal.com :)

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  44. Wow, that's an eye opener! In my personal experience I can say that the school system needs a serious upgrade when it come to disabilities. Some of my previous teachers back in High School did not know a lot about teaching someone with a learning disability. Most teachers do not like to change the way the teach in order to make it easier on the student. A learning disability, like A.D.D is just like saying that the individual learns in a different manner.

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  45. A child who uses a walker is considered AMBULATORY! The district is TAKING THAT AWAY!!!!

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  46. Ellen, thank you for sharing this story with us. I emailed the superintendent and signed the petition. I am appalled at the "it's not safe" argument, when the benefits of using a walker (when one can) are so great. A wheelchair isn't even necessarily safe! Last year, my daughter's wheelchair tipped over on the playground at school -- with her in it! (She tried to get to the inaccessible play structure and went down a small curb -- luckily she fell in the soft wood shavings and the damage was minimal.) Also, I inexplicably fell down while walking the other day, and I don't have cp. Would this school district strap both my daughter and I to the wall for our safety??

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  47. I sent an email to everyone from the Superintendent all the way down to each board member.

    I just want to add another discriminatory act that they impose on their emails.
    They put up a captcha code that you need to enter as to verify it is a human that is sending the email.

    This captcha code is on a background that has lines running is several directions.
    This makes it extremely hard if not impossible for a visually impaired person to read.

    Instead of providing a link to an audio recording of the code or a visually enhanced code they give you a phone number to call.

    I doubt that number is monitored 24/7 and it is a long distance call.
    That in itself could be the basis of another lawsuit or at least show just cause of their discriminatory attitude against disabled people.

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  48. Thank you for sharing. I e-mailed the superintendent. That is ridiculous!

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  49. This article makes me sick. I can't believe there are people like this in the world, but the sad truth is that people don't care until it affects them directly, as we live in a selfish world. I have a twin brother who had severe cerebral palsy (he passed away jut about two years ago) and it was an uphill battle every day of his life, but NEVER something as terrible as this. This man's legs should be broken and then he shouldn't be allowed to use a walker so he can see how it feels. Yes, I know that is a bit aggressive and two wrongs don't make a right but this makes my blood absolutely boil! I pray he gets his just due.

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  50. I'm betting Gary Lemley has never experienced getting tipped or dumped when hitting a bump, a threshold strip or divot while rolling in a wheelchair or had his fingers smashed in the space between the brake and the wheel. He's probably not experienced someone in a wheelchair rolling over hit foot either.

    I hope LaKay's mom gets an attorney involved. She should absolutely have the right to use her walker to keep her muscles as strong as possible. The district, for the sake of what they call "safety", would only be causing LaKay greater disability by requiring her to sit that many hours and lose muscle strength.

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  51. This came right from the school's website. FUNNY!

    Required Postings The New Caney Independent School District is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, or disability in employment matters, in its admissions policies, or by excluding from participation in, denying access to, or denying the benefits of district services, academic and/or vocational and technology programs, or activities as required by Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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  52. Would this man take a walker or cane away from an adult, and make him/her sit in a wheelchair, too?

    Actually, it would be a lot more "convenient" if ALL the children were in wheelchairs - we could fasten them together and make trains! Shoes would be cleaner, and NOBODY would ever fall down, trip, bump someone else, or do any of these things nobody ever does unless they're using a walker.

    What a nimrod. And that would be a euphemism for something something else. Use your imagination. Be creative. "Asshole" is so overused.

    Bless this little girl and her family, and shame on this "educator" who is certainly educating, but not about kindness, compassion, or any other positive thing. What a shining example of administrative male bovine fecal matter. Self-serving git.

    Was that rude? Please excuse me. Then again, it was contextually correct.

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  53. Oh my goodness this story just breaks my heart! What a cute little girl; it's horrible that the school doesn't have enough respect to understand that her walker is necessary mobility aide! Definitely an inappropriate decision on the part of the school. I really hope this is reconciled quickly. Both my daughters (5-yr-old with CP and 2-yr-old with Down Syndrome) have assistive devices that help them strengthen muscles and help them learn to walk and move independently. I cannot possibly imagine them being denied those rights and I really hope this will be quickly resolved for this family as well!

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  54. To the anon who said that the mother Kristi Roberts runs to youtube to video about her complaints – explain to me why there is only the one video credited to her under the account this video is posted under? I did search for more videos and came up with a grand total of four, including the one linked to in this post – did you find more than that? If no, how do FOUR videos from a mother who is clearly advocating for her daughter’s rights and freedom make her a perpetual complainer? Do her actions make you feel uncomfortable with actions you’ve taken on your own behalf in terms of special needs individuals?

    It really frosts me when so-called professionals make calls like this that deny children their basic rights and freedoms. All children fall if they are going to be on their feet, regardless of assistive aids – does that mean that they should be made to sit still and not move for fear that in walking they will get hurt? By denying LaKay her walker the school is practicing discrimination, pure and simple.

    Just because something is ‘easier’ and ‘more convenient’ does NOT make it the right decision. To accuse a parent of not caring because said parent is 1) advocating for their child, and 2) trying to ensure that her needs are met in school, not just at home, is to obviously not know what it’s like to have a special needs child. Children like LaKay need to have her accommodations met in all situations – especially at school – in order to ensure a better quality of life. Yes, there is a chance that her CP may worsen over time as it often does, but right now she is able to be ambulatory so to take it away is to diminish the spirit of this little girl.

    If the school is afraid of being held liable perhaps they have valid reason – they are clearly NOT doing their jobs by letting children be children, and that includes allowing a little girl the freedom to walk, run, and play like her classmates. By denying this right they are opening themselves up to being questioned about the quality of care they provide to ANY child that attends that school. Accidents happen – it’s a part of growing up. Not all parents are sue-happy, especially if something is an honest accident. If the accident happens more than once with other children then there is a clear safety hazard. How long until the New Caney ISD rules that all children must wear shoes with Velcro closures because shoelaces are a tripping hazard?

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  55. Just watched this on the Today show on NBC. Apparently, the school district is saying that they haven't received paperwork from her doctors saying that it's OK to be in the walker without AFOs.

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  56. What's the rest of the story? What do they propose she do? Use a wheelchair? None of that is mentioned anywhere. If you want to start a petition people can sign go to change.org.

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  57. Anonymous, it's pretty much assumed that they'd want her using a wheelchair. However, as long as she is able to use a walker she is considered ambulatory and her physiotherapists would prefer her to not have to rely on her wheelchair.

    Kirsteen, the school district is stalling - that is a standard tactic they take and it shows how little they understand in this situation. AFOs are not always required by people with CF. It's pretty clear to me that the doctors are fine with her using the walker without AFOs (she likely has enough natural support and strength to keep her feet in the right position) or she'd be in them already - AFOs are usually worn all day long and only come off during bathtime and at night (in some cases they need to be on even during the night to help correct step issues). I this situation the school district is employing standard stalling techniques instead of admitting they have their heads up their rears.

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  58. This s just insane this little girl should be allowed to use her walker!

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  59. I don't know if this was raised anyplace, or if this has already been covered in the thread. This appears to be a fairly straight forward ADA compliance issue. However even simple cases involving the ADA can be fairly complex and intimidating. The need for legal counsel is essential. There is help available for those that can't afford an attorney.

    A private attorney may take this case on a contingency basis, though that would mean then seeking monetary damages as opposed to simply injunctive relief (ie let her use the walker) so that the attorney can make some money.

    How ever there is a legal services corporation firm that serves Montgomery county Texas, they handle educational ADA cases (I used to handle them for a such a firm in West Virginia). They can be contacted through there website
    http://www.lonestarlegal.org/index.pl

    In the alternative there is always the great bogey man of the right ... http://www.aclutx.org/ who might also be very interested in a case such as this one.

    What ever the fashion I would encourage the mother to seek legal counsel as quickly as possible time does matter in a case such as this one.

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  60. Terrible! People have th right to move around. America is supposed to be Equal opportunity. Some people don't get that yet. It is so sad she needs her abilities focused on. How can people sleep @ night so ignorant. :(

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  61. As someone who helps advocate for children, after years of not having perspective, I can clearly say that incidents such as this, and even far more obviously wrong, are more frequent than anyone would like to believe. This woman is trying to encourage her child to develop strength and a skill that will only help her maintain some sort of independence in her life - which we should be encouraging in all our children. Our society is lazy. They don't want to put the effort in to help an individual not only have more skills, but be less of a "burden on society" since walking will help her with her independence. The fact that the director told the mother she did not care about her child says it all - he uses a form of bullying as a tactic to get his way rather than logic - because if logic prevailed, he knew he was wrong. His behavior is unacceptable, not the least bit professional, and he should be more than reprimanded, he needs to be fired.

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  62. I happen to live in Kingwood and I used to go to that very school. One thing I remeber is that the kids you call "special" distrated us normal students and on time a 1st grader was beat up by a kid with downs syndrome. I happened to hear this mouring on the local Houston news that the Judge rejected the case because Texas law says that the school has that right

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  63. I am a school psychologist at a small district in Pennsylvania. First of all, this school district is in violation of this little girls rights to a free and appropriate education in her least restrictive environment.

    Props to the mom for recording this meeting with the special education supervisor-If I were her, I would have taken it right to the superintindent of the school and had this guy reported. No district has the right to say a student can't use something to help he or she walk and be successful. As an advocate for children, this man obviously isn't...just the way he spoke to mom alone is grounds for a lawsuit.

    They are surely are in violation of her rights and I hope this family gets a large sum for this.

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  64. I haven't been able to find any updates online about what happened to LaKay and her walker. The school district disagreed with the media accounts of this incident, and posted this after the Today show aired their story: http://montgomerycountypolicereporter.com/?p=42470

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  65. Nitae1952@aol.comJuly 26, 2012 at 10:00 PM

    Just to let you know I was told a teacher years ago that my daughter couldn't use her wheelchair or walker in her room. Her room was not big enough for them.

    I then called an emergency IEP and brought in doctors, therapists, lawyers as well as representative from Cerebal Palsy, and I printed out a bunch of information from the ADA(American Disability Act). It comes in handy to have that information for your records. A good attorney can beat them. This is a Federal Law if I remember correctly.

    I beat my district as I got what I wanted. My daughter got to go back to the special school that had all the services she needed at the site. And she got an education as well.

    Good luck and God Bless

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  66. Similar situations in the 1980's (my son was 6 years old and used a Kaye walker, I was told "why don't you stick your son in a wheelchair", "he is slow in moving from class to class". My answer was "if your son were handicapped, would you rather deny him the chance to walk slowly and put him in a wheelchair". I finally had to move him to the another school, where he was the only student with physical disability and had a great education and was treated with respect!!!

    Saru

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  67. I am so proud of to stand up to this abuse. we need more people to do this.

    Saru

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  69. Appalling. Why take away someone's rights? If they can walk, they can walk.

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  70. This just really sad. I can relate. I have a child with CP. We were having issues with his school as well. I really wished to have him in a traditional kindergarten class. The school refused to ever discuss the issue. I feel as a parent I do have a right on how and where my child has their education. We ended up having to hiring a lawyer: http://csnlg.com/, That was the best decision we ever made. He is now in a classroom. I wish people would realized special needs children are entitled to right to an education as well.

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Thanks for sharing!