Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Update on Wheelchair Story

I feel like I should update you on the story about the little boy in a wheelchair who missed his field trip because the school was told the train the students were taking wasn't wheelchair accessible. Some parents are outraged the school didn't offer to take the child by bus, others are mad at me for doing the story and others say the school does a great job of including kids with special needs. I am still getting emails and comments on this story five days later!

No matter which side of the story you are on, this really struck a cord. I talked to the state yesterday and got the impression that there are a lot of kids in Woodford County who need special care. The woman I spoke with said she isn't sure if there are more kids with special needs in this county than in other parts of the state.

It sounds like getting care for kids with special needs is very challenging. Some of these kids have nurses who go with them to school. Some of them need nurses, but don't qualify. I never realized what these parents go through. It has to be frustrating to be constantly fighting for you child, whether it's at school, daycare, or at the playground. This is a world most of us probably don't understand.

Here's the story we ran on WHOI last week. I just put it on you tube. I am probably opening a whole other can of worms by doing that, but if people are this fired up about this topic, I thought I should make it easy to email the story to others. Maybe we need to talk about it more.

Update from District #60

I just talked to District 60 Superintendent Rohn Peterson. He said he was sent a letter on Friday from a mom detailing some problems she has with Special Education in Woodford County. He said some of the things she mentioned, like not enough handicap parking, are things he is now working to fix. He said the letter mentioned handicap parking at Sowers Elementary school in Roanoke, but he noticed Roanoke-Benson high school doesn't have very many handicap spaces either. "I got my own parking spot when I started working here(this year). That's kind of old school too. We can take that one out and make it handicap. That's more up to date with what needs to be done, " he said.

Other issues that have been mentioned are crowded classrooms without enough teacher's aides. Superintendent Peterson said he will be looking into this to see if it's a problem. He said, "There are two things to think about here. What does the law require? What is good for kids? So we want to make sure we are doing what's best for kids. Maybe the federal guidelines we are within, but if we're still feeling crunched, we need to address that. Maybe the aides can technically work this many hours, but in reality, we need to discuss that and figure out what we need to do."

Superintendent Peterson said any parent with concerns can contact Woodford County Special Education Director Joan Hartnett. He said if the parents don't feel comfortable talking to her, they can contact him.

Update from Dakota's Mom

Sophia Senn said she has learned a lot from this situation and she will continue to be an advocate for her children. She did call Amtrak. The company offered her family round trip tickets to Chicago. She said she is not sure if she will be able to use them, but she appreciates the offer. Dakota and his sister will both be in continuing education this summer through Woodford County and she is thrilled about that.

If you want to email the original story and all the comments that go along with it, just copy and paste this link into an email: NewsAnchorMom.com Wheelchair Story

You can also find more comments on WHOI.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen


Lynn said...

Thanks Jen for the follow ups on your stories. I'm proud of you for not backing down to all the people who find it entertaining to anonymously bash you here. I have always thought a newspersons job was to bring us newsworthy/thought provoking stories. Maybe some people haven't quite realized that yet. Congrats on a job well done!

Michele said...

Thank you for helping those of us with special needs children to share our side of the story. I doubt that any of the anonymous people have a clue what it takes to raise a handicapped child. We have to fight for many things that they legally deserve.

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