Mom: Special needs son not allowed to wear letter jacket

WICHITA, Kan. -- A woman says her special needs son was asked to remove his letter jacket on campus. And it's got a lot of people calling for change at the Kansas school he attends, reports KSN in Wichita.

Michael Kelley plays on the special needs basketball team at East High School in Wichita. His mother, Jolinda, bought him a varsity letter and put that on a letter jacket. She was shocked when he was asked at school to take it off.

"Another parent, from what I had been told, was upset that my son was wearing his letter jacket," said Kelley.

She says Michael was given a sweatshirt to wear instead. The family was told according to school policy, only varsity teams can wear the letter.

KSN asked the principal about the policy.

"We have considered it and our decision was no," said East High School Principal Ken Thiessen. "That is not appropriate. We believe in our situation because it is not a varsity-level competition."

Thiessen says his building decided varsity letters would be for varsity letter winners. But it turns out that's not a district-wide policy.

The family approached the district's athletic director, Jay Means, who told them when he was the athletic director at a different school, policy was to allow special needs students to earn letters, just like other athletes.

KSN reached out to the district's board members to ask if they would consider making a district-wide policy.

"I would definitely be willing to look at it and be sure that kids are being treated fairly," responded district member Lynn Rogers.

As for Kelly, she says she understands each school can make the rules, but wants to see that rule change.

"It's not just my son," she said. "It's every student that was out there last night. It's every student that's there on Fridays that plays their hardest and to the best of their capability regardless what that is."

The station reached out to the school district superintendent, but he was unavailable. He plans to ask about the matter at a school board meeting on Monday night.

Report a Typo
Copyright © 2019 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.