New Caney ISD is a Texas Education Agency "Recognized" school district that has as its foremost priority the safe and quality education of all students enrolled in the District. Each day, the District provides individualized, quality instruction to 1,090 students with physical, emotional, and learning disabilities who are eligible for special education programs.
On March 26, 2012, Ms. Kristi Roberts provided for the first time a release that would allow District representatives to speak to the media regarding this story. Previously, the District was precluded from comment due to the strict federal and state laws that protect student privacy. We thank Ms. Roberts for the opportunity to share publicly how the District is helping LaKay and working with her family toward meeting her individual educational needs.
In sharp contrast to earlier reports, New Caney ISD did not “take away” LaKay’s walker, nor did the District unilaterally determine that LaKay could no longer use her walker at school. The decision was a collaborative effort in which the mother agreed.
Earlier this year, specialists working with LaKay at school voiced strong concern that LaKay was becoming alarmingly fatigued when using her walker. Although LaKay’s physicians previously endorsed the use of the walker, LaKay also had been prescribed ankle foot orthotics (AFOs) by her doctors to wear during her use of the walker. LaKay began arriving at school without the AFOs, and at times, without shoes. Without the AFOs, LaKay demonstrates improper placement of her feet when walking and when fatigued, walks on the tops of her feet (with the soles of her feet facing up). Professional specialists, including the District’s physical therapy team, are extremely concerned that allowing LaKay to walk in this manner could result in permanent injury to the child — at worst, damaging LaKay’s chance of walking for the rest of her life. They also are concerned that the model of LaKay’s walker has no protection to prevent her from falling frontward during use. This is significant, given the nature of LaKay’s disabilities, which include both cerebral palsy and a life threatening seizure disorder.
New Caney ISD works in partnership with parents and routinely uses adapted devices with children and has done so in LaKay’s case. District personnel have met extensively with LaKay’s mother, and at a meeting on February 21, 2012, LaKay’s mother agreed with the school’s proposal to seek guidance from LaKay’s physicians regarding LaKay’s use of the walker. To date, the District has made more than eight attempts to get information from LaKay’s treating physicians without success, in part because of limitations placed by LaKay’s mother on the manner in which the school is allowed to communicate with the doctors. While LaKay’s doctors have endorsed the use of the walker,
walker, the District has not been able to get much needed clarification from them regarding the previously prescribed AFOs and to ensure that LaKay is safe when using her walker.
In the interim, Ms. Roberts signed an agreement with New Caney ISD on March 1, 2012 that LaKay would not use her walker until the much needed medical information could be obtained. A copy of that agreement is attached to this statement.
On March 29, 2012, LaKay’s story was told by NBC on The Today Show. New Caney ISD feels that the story was incomplete and therefore did not paint an accurate picture. The District spent more than an hour with NBC explaining several points that were not revealed to the public in the story aired by NBC. NBC was made aware that the District did not unilaterally take away LaKay’s walker. In fact, the District gave NBC a copy of the March 1, 2012 agreement that Ms. Roberts signed, which would have confirmed that she agreed with the District and that LaKay would not use her walker until additional medical information was provided. Despite this information, NBC ran a story that likely led viewers to conclude that the District had taken the walker away from LaKay, and without Ms. Roberts’ agreement. NBC also glossed over the legitimate concerns that the District has regarding the safety and health issues presented by LaKay using the walker without her previously prescribed AFOs. NBC also did not adequately explain the limitations Ms. Roberts has placed on its ability to communicate with LaKay’s doctors regarding these concerns.
The District remains committed to LaKay’s safety and to working with LaKay’s parent in the educational process. To that end, the school has arranged with LaKay’s parent to conduct a meeting of the child’s special education planning team (known as an “ARD committee” in Texas) to again discuss LaKay’s program, including the use of the walker. The District is confident that the school and the parent can work together to reach agreement, resulting in a safe and favorable outcome that will — most importantly — benefit LaKay.
In the interim, Ms. Roberts signed an agreement with New Caney ISD on March 1, 2012 that LaKay would not use her walker until the much needed medical information could be obtained.