Students with special needs excluded from school tradition - Dallas News |

Students with special needs excluded from school tradition, parents say

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Parents of seniors with special needs at Waxahachie High School are upset about a senior tradition from which they say their kids were excluded.

Every year, the school has t-shirts made with the signatures of the seniors.

The t-shirts are back from the printer, and the special needs students never got a chance to sign them.

Todd Porter's son, Dane, has Down syndrome and is scheduled to graduate with class of 2014. When Dane came home with the senior class t-shirt, Porter's wife noticed Dane's signature was missing.

As it would turn out, none of the four special needs seniors were included on that shirt.

"It's hard because, as a parent, when you know your son or daughter with special needs has been slighted and they don't know it, they're still happy," said Porter.

Mysti Boehler's son, Jeremy, suffers from Cohen syndrome. Jeremy can't speak and is visually impaired.

Boehler says that for her family, the issue revolves around much more than a simple t-shirt.

"It's a moment in their lives," she said. "It's one of the biggest that they get. After this, there's not a lot that they get. There's not a lot out there for them."

"My son will never know the joy of being a father," said Porter. "He can't legally get married and he can't go to college. This graduation is a big deal to me and his mother. I'm sorry. This senior year is a big deal to him. This is one of the milestones that he gets to live."

Waxahachie Independent School District acknowledges that several students were inadvertently left off of the t-shirt. The spokeswoman called in an unfortunate situation and said it was not intentional.

Both Porter and Boehler say the school district has to make an effort to include students with special needs so something like this doesn't happen again.

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