Published November 30, 2015
School officials in a small Georgia town have reversed their decision barring an autistic child from walking with his classmates in the local school system’s graduation ceremony – scheduled for Saturday night.
The Moultrie Observer reports that the the Colquitt County Board of Education voted 3-to-1 with two abstensions to disqualify Colquitt County High School senior Ryan James the honor of walking with his fellows at the Saturday night ceremony.
James, who supporters have said has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism, has been home-schooled for the last 14 months, but fulfilled the requirements for graduation, The Observer reported.
The board of education acted, according to the paper, on the recommendation of the high school’s principal, Bob Jones, as well as that of the school system’s superintendent, Leonard McCoy, to not allow James to walk. McCoy refused to tell the paper why he made the recommendation or what prevented James from being taught in the school.
But after a bitter public outcry that crystallized in a Facebook campaign that garnered hundreds of supporters, the school system held an emergency meeting Wednesday, during which it reversed course on the James issue, according to The Observer.
However, the board, in its decision, stipulated that James must be accompanied by an “unobtrusive” companion, while he makes the distinguished walk to receive his coveted high school diploma.