07/15/2014 04:09 pm ET Updated Jul 16, 2014

Mom Asks School: Please Let My 12-Year-Old Daughter Learn With 1st-Graders

A Utah mom says she is willing to move out of state in order to get her daughter in a first-grade classroom.

Angie Watson, of Salt Lake City, is hoping to find a school district that will allow her 12-year-old daughter, Alexis, to learn alongside first-graders, according to a local FOX affiliate. Alexis was born with a rare genetic disorder that has delayed her physical and cognitive growth, although she has surpassed her doctor’s expectations and is now intellectually on par with 6-year-olds.

“First not [past] birth, then not go home from the hospital, then don’t expect anything,” Watson told FOX 13 News of her daughter’s diagnosis. “I was literally told that they expected her to lay on her back in a vegetative state and stare at the ceiling for the rest of her life.”

While Alexis has been in Salt Lake City District special education classes since beginning her schooling, Watson says her daughter is ready to learn in a regular classroom. However, she says that district officials have denied her request, according to The Salt Lake City Tribune.

Now, Watson is looking for other districts who will accept her daughter as a first-grader in the fall.

Michael Williams, director of development and external relations for the district, told The Huffington Post that the director of exceptional child services is meeting with Watson later this week to try and work out a solution.

"We are aware of the situation and will be working with the parent to provide the best possible solution for her student. Because of Federal privacy laws, it is not appropriate for a Salt Lake City School District employee to comment on specific student cases," said Williams said in an email. "Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, all issues and concerns regarding placement of students with disabilities are done through a team meeting process, which includes participation of the parents, and parental input is always a consideration in any decision."

Alexis, who uses a wheelchair and communicates via sign language, needs an aide during the day. Still, her mom says she wants to try and enter regular classes.

"I just know her enough to know if she completed first grade, I don’t care what happens after that, she would go through her life going, ‘I did first grade,’" Watson told the Salt Lake City Tribune. "Now that she wants to try and can academically do it and they’re saying no — why would we do that? Why would we tell her, ‘No, you can’t try.’"



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