Lines of communication open, School District addresses Hayneville Middle hadicapped accessibility issues

Published 6:04 pm Friday, September 13, 2013

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

With two new hadicapped parking spaces and a newly a paved section of sidewalk, getting around at Hayneville Middle School will be a little easier for one special needs student.

Following a meeting with Lowndes County School Superintendent Dr. Daniel Boyd and Dr. Deann K. Stone, coordinator of special education for the school district, Thursday morning, the family of a special needs sixth grader expressed satisfaction to the Lowndes County Board of Education Thursday night for steps taken to improve hadicapped accessibility to the school.

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However, the family remains “cautiously optimistic” that still more can be done.

Prior to the recent actions by the school system, Mattisa Moorer had written a letter to the editor of The Lowndes Signal expressing her concerns over accessibility to the school for her daughter, Kerstin, diagnosed with cerebral palsy since infancy and recently diagnosed with both scoliosis and epilepsy.

That letter was shown to Boyd.

Moorer wrote that her sixth grade daughter Kerstin’s class is located in a basement-like area of the school at the back of the building. She said her daughter has to circle the building in order to gain access to the main floor. And, she said, the sidewalk was “so bumpy and in need of repair that it is difficult to navigate in her wheelchair.”

Moorer also wrote that the sidewalk is not covered so that Kerstin “is literally left outside in the rain” and there were no wheelchair accessible parking paces at the school.

Thursday night following a regular meeting of the board of education, held at Jackson-Steele Elementary, Moorer told the Signal, “Like my sister (Regina) stated here tonight, we’re satisfied.”

Boyd told the Signal, “There are some things I’m going to do and lot a things I’ve already done.” But he said he would sit down with the Moorers and talk about things with them again.

Boyd said, “We’ve paved a parking area right next to the building, and we also have a hadicapped area right by the classroom. We’ve also repaved some areas and made the concrete much, much smoother than it was before.”

Regina Moorer told the Signal, “What we learned as a family is that just as school system mission says they’re training our students to be fierce competitors, as Kerstin’s family, we’re fierce advocates for her as well as other people with disabilities.”

She said, “One of the biggest things that we’ve gained from this is that we want to continue to communicate with the school system, but we also want it to be known that once that communication breaks down, we will take that next step, if means we are going to go to the media or we’re going to go to legal channels.”

She also said the biggest question left is, “Will the sidewalk be covered that connects the entrance that she (Kerstin) takes from the cafeteria to the main floor?”

She said Dr. Boyd said he would look into that, “So, we are cautiously optimistic that it can be covered. But that is a thing we will be interested in pursuing.”

Regina Moorer told the school board Thursday night, “We did meet with Dr. Boyd this morning regarding some of our concerns, and we do think we do have an understanding about some of those concerns.”

She said the concerns stemmed from her niece Kerstin Sanders, who is sixth grader at Hayneville Middle School, who has a disability and uses a wheelchair for mobility.

She said her sister had some concerns about accessibility issues at Hayneville Middle School. “And I’m sure that you all may have seen the write up that was front page of The Lowndes Signal on last Thursday.”

She told the board, “We are pleased with the changes that are being made at Hayneville Middle School and with the accommodations that are being made not only on her (Kerstin’s) behalf but on behalf of people with disabilities. And we do think that based on the conversation with Dr. Boyd and Dr. (Deann) Stone this morning that maybe some of Mattisa’s frustration stem from just a simple miscommunication or a lack of communication.”

She said they have an understanding that lines of communication are open and they can speak to Dr. Boyd and Dr. Stone to get clarity on issues.

“So we do appreciate Dr. Boyd and Dr. Stone meeting with us this morning. And we do think that our concerns have been addressed at this time so there is nothing really to present to the board,” she said.

School Board President Ben Davis said, “We are so excited that y’all talked this morning and agree that progress has been made… The door is always open to you.”

Boyd said, “There is nothing like having a good understanding.”

This photograph shows a newly created hadicapped parking space behind Hayneville Middle School provided since the parent of special needs sixth grader expressed her concerns over accessibility for her daughter in a letter to the editor of The Lowndes Signal.hadicapped

This photograph shows a newly created hadicapped parking space behind Hayneville Middle School provided since the parent of special needs sixth grader expressed her concerns over accessibility for her daughter in a letter to the editor of The Lowndes Signal.