(Reposted from 9/16/15 on a defunct part of the site)
In West Virginia, a young man with Down syndrome is being told he can’t attend the inclusive school near his house.
It all started when Roy’s parents noticed he was becoming more disinterested in school while attending Magnolia High School during his freshman year.
In Wetzel County students with “severe” special needs are to be placed at Magnolia, regardless of where they live. The Stevens family lives within the territory of Hundred High School, but the school system believes Magnolia is better equipped to deal with students with special needs.
Magnolia is about an hour drive away from the Stevens’ home.
Last year Roy’s family was granted a temporary reprieve, which allowed him to attend Hundred. At the time, Roy was having trouble getting up early enough to catch the bus to Magnolia. His family said he ended up missing school on quite a few occasions, despite his flexible attendance schedule. Karen would take Roy to school later in the day on some of these occasions, which was two hours round-trip.
While attending Hundred High School, Roy flourished. He attended more than half of regular education classes, performed hands-on work, and joined clubs and activities, including the school band.
“He made so many friends, and now, when he sees people in town, his friends know him, they’re not afraid of him, they tell their parents about him, and their parents know him,” Karen said. “And as Roy transitions into adulthood, that’s the greatest thing for him where he lives.”
Every time you read a story about a child being denied a FAPE in LRE (Free and Appropriate Public Education in the Least Restrictive Environment), remember there are lots more people like Roy being denied as well.
West Virginia – Wetzel County anyway – is structurally designed to make a less independent, less included, adult population.
We’ve got to fight that.