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Jacksonville Mother Says Her Disabled Child Is Missing Classes Because of Disability

3:58 PM, Sep 9, 2011   |    comments
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UPDATE: Just minutes after we initially aired the story, we received dozens of phone calls from people who wanted to help Gabby and her mother.

Eight people even offered to donate a wheelchair, and one family did just that.

Pulling up to Gabby Delgado's home, Virginia Demorest was excited to meet the little girl.

"Look, I have something for you," she said to 7-year-old Gabby.

Gabby, who attends the special education program at Sabal Palm Elementary School, is autistic and has heart problems. She needs a wheelchair to get to some classes, but she does not yet have a one and the school system does not provide them.

Johnny and Virginia Demorest were the first family to offer Gabby a wheelchair, and drove from Interlachen so the child could have it for school on Friday.

"That is great that we have that kind of response. This town is great, it's the greatest," said Raquel Diaz of the support from the community.

"This lifts up, just like that," Johnny Demorest explained to Gabby.

The chair had belonged to Virginia's father, but she thinks it will be a perfect fit for Gabby.

"You go everywhere you want to go, and people will help you," said Virginia.  "Even to the playground! These big wheels will get you through the dirt and the sand!"

And they already have big plans for that wheelchair.

"Now I can take you to Disney World Gabby," said Raquel.

Original story:

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Gabby Delgado loves to watch "Barney," but her favorite thing to do is read.

The 7-year-old Sabal Palms Elementary student's mother said  Gabby isn't getting the education she deserves. "She's missing classes. She's missing going to the library. She's not even going to the cafeteria," said Raquel Diaz.

Gabby, who attends the special education program at Sabal Palm, is autistic and has heart problems. She needs a wheelchair to get to some classes, but she does not yet have a one and the school system does not provide them.

Her mom said when Gabby has to walk more than 25 to 50 feet, she loses her breath. "She will feel it. She will have to slow down or sit."

That means Gabby isn't able to get to some of her classes, which are mainstream and not special ed. But Diaz is trying to buy a wheelchair so her daughter doesn't miss a thing.

She doesn't have the money yet and the school isn't providing a wheelchair.

"Gabby was very upset when she came from the school. She's asking, 'where are my friends going? They are going to the library and I'm not going there. I love the library'," said Diaz.

The school district declined to interview, but released a statement saying, "We are trying to meet all accommodations for the student."

And while Gabby may miss some mainstream classes, "She will receive core curriculum in (her) ESE classrooms."

The district also said it does not provide wheelchairs to students and those seen in the school's hallways are the property of individual students. 

"They are denying to her the education she is supposed to have, and she have all the right to have," said Diaz.

Gabby's mother has hired an attorney who sent a letter Thursday to city officials noting they do not believe policy is being followed and a wheelchair should be provided.

The school's principal did not get back with First Coast News.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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