MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

August 19, 2013

THE PEOPLE SPEAK – You should not deny any child an education


— I have a 5-year-old granddaughter who was born with Down Syndrome. She went to the Early Childhood Center when she was 4 years old. Her mom enrolled her, along with her other two siblings in Benjamin Franklin Science Academy (BFSA). She along with her siblings were all accepted into the school. That is the way you are to do to attend the BFSA school system. It doesn’t matter what school district you are in. You have to fill out their school application and then they either accept or deny you.

They were all three accepted to BFSA, but now that school is about to start, the board sent out a denial letter to my granddaughter that has Down Syndrome. Although she cannot comprehend everything fully, she does know that she cannot attend the same school as her sisters. It is breaking her heart.

Her mom tried to find out why she is now denied. The response was because she has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and they don’t have enough staff for her. Maybe I’m wrong, but it was my belief that all the children with special needs have an IEP. Not only did they say that, her next response was I have the right to deny anyone. How can this be? To me it sounded like discrimination. How can you deny anyone the right to be educated.

I believe if my granddaughter was enrolled and accepted there, she has the right to attend BFSA. If the staffing is the problem, hire staff. Just because she has special needs is no reason to deny her a spot that was already assigned to her. I cannot and will not sit back and let the school system take my granddaughter’s rights away. I will advocate for her and any other child that has special needs. They have rights just like everyone else.

How can you say you can deny anyone you choose? Who gave you that authority? Opportunity is for everyone. Education cannot be denied for anyone.

BRENDA G. BELL

Muskogee