School makes special needs student take off letter jacket

A Wichita woman says her special needs son was asked to remove his letter jacket at school after the school said the student can't get a varsity letter for playing basketball on the special needs team.

Jolinda Kelley, says her adopted special needs son Michael loves to play basketball but when he was recognized for participating, Jolinda bought a varsity letter and put that letter on a letter jacket. She was shocked when he was asked at school to take the jacket off.

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

So her son was asked to take the jacket off and was given a girls sweat shirt to wear instead.

The Kelley family was told that only varsity players can wear the letter, according to East High policy.

When asked if it would be acceptable to give a traditional varsity letter to special needs kids, East High Principal Ken Thiessen told local media, "We have considered it and our decision was no. We decided that is not appropriate in our situation because it is not a varsity level competition."

Thiessen says his building decided varsity letters would be for varsity letter winners only.

Turns out there is no district-wide policy.

The family turned to the district's Athletic Director Jay Means who told the family when he was the Athletic Director at Northwest High, their policy was to allow special need students to earn letters, just like other athletes.

"It's not just my son. 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," Kelly said.

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