A Texas mother is planning to file a lawsuit against New Caney Independent School District after her daughter's special education director said the 5-year-old could no longer use her walker at school, according to KRIV-TV.
Lakay Roberts has cerebral palsy and needs the walker to move around -- she's also used the device at the school for the last two years. Kristi Roberts, the girl's mother, recorded the conversation with Kings Manor Elementary School special education director Gary Lemley and posted it to YouTube.
"Basically she can't use the walker because we don't think it's safe," Lemley says in the recording. When Roberts asks why it isn't safe, Lemley responds, "I just told you. We don't feel it's safe any longer."
The school decided the walker is unsafe after Lakay fell in the parking lot because her walker collapsed. Her mother likens the incident to a student falling on the playground, asking Lemley in the recording whether he asks students who fall during recess to take their shoes off and buy new ones.
"No, m'am," Lemley says. "They're not using walkers."
Elise Hough, CEO of special needs nonprofit Easter Seals Houston, tells KPRC-TV that the school district has an obligation to provide a safe school environment for Lakay and other students.
"You don't tell somebody you trip on your feet so chop 'em off to come to school, you're safer in a wheelchair," Hough said. "For a person with a disability, their assistive technology is like an extension of their body."
Support for Laka and her case has been pouring in online since Roberts posted the recording. But all Roberts wants, KRIV-TV reports, is change.
"I want Gary Lemley to resign. I'd like an apology, and I would like her to use her walker again and get things changed in the special education department," Roberts said.
In a statement last week, New Caney ISD officials declined to comment specifically on the case, instead focusing on privacy issues:
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."