The parents of a special needs student in Wetzel County are petitioning the Board of Education to allow their 17-year-old son with Downs Syndrome to attend Hundred High School.
Earl Stevens, and his wife Karen, went to the board meeting on Monday night to once again speak to the board about the future of their son’s education. The parents have been advocating for Roy, a junior, when they noticed him 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. However, the school system believes Magnolia is better equipped to deal with the students with special needs.
Last year, Roy’s family got a temporary reprieve, which allowed him to attend Hundred, because he was having trouble getting up early enough to catch the bus to Magnolia, which is about an hour trip in each direction. 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, attending over half regular education classes, doing hands-on work, and joining clubs and activities, including the school band. Roy was able to perform in a number of concerts at the school and in the community during that time.
“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.”
On Monday afternoon, an advocate on behalf of Roy’s family signed on to his case, and together, they will be meeting with the Board of Education on Thursday, August 20.
Earl Stevens said he thinks it is time to take a good look at the kids with special needs in Wetzel County and across the state, and make sure they get a fair chance at an education that works best for them.
The Wetzel County Board of Education did not comment on Roy’s case specifically, but said they will continue to follow the state’s policy when it comes to special needs students.
Earl and Kathy said they do not want to have to take Roy out of school at 17-years-old, especially after such an encouraging sophomore year, and they hope they can reach an agreement with the board regarding Roy’s future in the school system.