In the weeks since the Gloversville High School commencement, members of our community have asked about the manner in which my daughter, Rachel was treated at this once-in-a-lifetime event.
Why wasn't commencement accessible?
Rachel is physically handicapped. She needs a walker to get around. At the June 22 commencement, she arrived using the same walker she used for her years at Gloversville High School.
Rachel earned the same diploma as most of the graduates. She trusted that she would receive her diploma in the same dignified manner as every other graduate. She was the only graduate a teacher was assigned to.
Minutes before it was her turn, only Rachel was told she would be receiving assistance because the ramp was too steep.
A high school secretary pushed on the back of Rachel's walker to get her up the steep ramp. Then, the secretary held onto the walker as she went down the steep ramp. Even though Rachel walked independently every day at school, the secretary continued to escort her on the flat gym floor.
In my opinion, Gloversville Enlarged School District Superintendent Michael Vanyo, then-school board President Peter Semione and Principal Richard DeMallie all appear to approve of the assistance on the WFNY video we purchased. Rachel was embarrassed.
Weeks of calls and inquiries have led us to the U.S. Department of Education and Office of Civil Rights. We are grateful for their assistance and guidance.
Graduates: Every day offers opportunities to set examples. Remember this example set for you as you begin the next chapters of your lives. Choose higher standards, dignity for all and integrity. You'll be glad you did.