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Elementary school completely overlooks wheelchair student at graduation

As a parent, how do you tell your child to keep their head up in the face of embarrassment? One fifth-grade student will have a disheartening memory of her elementary school graduation ceremony that can’t be undone.

May and June are popular months to celebrate graduations of all sizes. Relatives and friends will travel great distances to honor a loved one reaching a new milestone in their life. It should be a time filled with wonderful memories and happiness.

Unfortunately not all things go according to plan.

Trinecia Blacklock was completely humiliated as she watched everyone in her fifth-grade class participate in the graduation ceremony except her. KHOU-TV reveals the elementary school not only forgot about her but never made the necessary accommodations given she’s in a wheelchair.

“How they missed her sitting there by herself down there in a wheelchair, I don’t know,” said Tonisha McCowan, Trinecia’s mother.

There was no ramp or acknowledgment of Trinecia whatsoever at the ceremony. In fact, her parents had to alert school administrators of their gross oversight so the principal could call her name. “It was just all very humiliating,” adds Tonisha. “Her joy from that day was stripped from right under her.”

In response to the incident, the Spring Independent School District issued the following statement:

“Spring ISD administrators were recently made aware that during a fifth-grade promotion ceremony a student was unable to completely participate in the program. The student was acknowledged from the podium but was unable to cross the stage to receive a certificate. Although the school had good intentions in acknowledging the student’s academic achievement, accommodations should have been made so the student could fully participate in the program or the program should have been adjusted. Once this issue was brought to Spring ISD administration’s attention, it was immediately reviewed and district administrators from the Office of School Leadership, which oversees principals and campuses, met with the student’s family to offer an apology. Additionally, the Office of Operations is reviewing all district facilities to ensure that they are compliant at all times and that this never happens again.”

How can you say you had good intentions of acknowledging a student when you failed to make her a part of the event or, at the very least, to call out her name — without someone telling you to do so? If a ramp was unavailable the day of the ceremony, would it have been too much trouble for someone to walk to Trinecia and hand her a certificate?

Children with disabilities and special needs already have enough trouble when it comes to trying to fit in. The fact that an elementary school would overlook a student is appalling.

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