LA MONTE, Mo. – The mother of an autistic elementary student in Missouri is sounding off online after she alleges the principal attempted to keep the boy from graduating with his classmates.
Andrea Parkey posted a video on Facebook May 13 that’s since gone viral showing an altercation with school officials and when boy’s mother and grandmother brought him to school for the graduation ceremony.
“The principal met my mother at the door and said Westin was not allowed to graduate because he was not at school today,” Parkey wrote in the video’s comments. “He was not at school today because they told me he was not allowed to go on the field trip. I arrived and had a confrontation with the teacher and with the teacher and when I started video recording she allowed him to graduate with the rest of the kids.”
She tried denying my autistic son from attending graduation!
Posted by Andrea Parkey on Friday, May 13, 2016
Parkey later posted a picture of her son posing with his elementary school diploma.
“Put him in this line for graduation,” the mother demanded in the nearly 4-minute video, which was recorded just off stage as a teacher released students to receive their diploma. “He is an autistic child, you don’t do this to him.”
“They called me and told me he wasn’t allowed to come to school today for a field trip,” Parkey said. “And now you’re keeping him from graduation?”
“Shhhh,” she said. “Please, you have to … please go back here. Please. Please.”
“These kids are trying to graduate,” the teacher said.
“So is he!” the mother shot back.
“Tell him to get to the end of the line, and he can do this, ok,” the teacher relented. “Just go to the end of the line.”
“Thank you,” the mother said.
She continued to narrate as she walked her son to the back of the graduation line.
“Westin has just as many rights as these kids do,” she said as she walked past several students in formal attire.
“Westin has just as many rights to be here as you guys do, doesn’t he?” she said to the students, who nodded in agreement. “Thank you.”
“Shame on them,” Parkey continued. “They tried to keep Westin from his own graduation.
The last half of the video shows Westin and his mother waiting in line and eventually Westin is called out on the stage, snatches his diploma from a school official and walks away without stopping for pictures.
The video has been shared more than 10,000 times since it was posted to Facebook Friday.
“This is awful, he should be treated just like everyone else,” Valerie Spears wrote in the comments. “I would call the state on them.”
“That’s awful!” Lori Levora added. “He did the work like all the rest, he deserves to graduate with his class!”
“Wow. This is so disgusting to see an educator treat a child like this,” Amanda Sartain-Pardoe posted. “Shame on her, but congratulations Westin!”