Published March 24, 2012
The mother of a child with cerebral palsy is preparing to file a lawsuit against a school district after she says a special education director told her that her five-year-old daughter can no longer use her walker at school.
Kristi Roberts, the girl’s mother, reportedly recorded the conversation with the director Gary Lemley and uploaded it to YouTube. She said 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 reportedly heard saying on the audio recording.
Lakay Roberts, 5, has been using a walker at Kings Manor Elementary School in Houston for the past two years. She recently fell 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," Lemley said, according to the report.
The school district, New Caney ISD, issued a statement to MyFoxHouston.com that said its main goal is to protect students. It cited student privacy laws and would not comment further on this particular issue.
"While a parent may choose to share information about his or her child, we cannot."
The statement goes on, "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."
The recording, meanwhile, has been clicked on more than 10,000 times, and Roberts says support is pouring in online in the form of comments.
"The ones I read really touched me, that strangers care about this," she said.
Ana Calvo, president of the Ms. Wheelchair Texas Foundation, was born without arms and legs.
She said, "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.”