GILBERT, Ariz. (KSAZ) - The parents of a Gilbert kindergärtner are fighting back, trying to reverse a decision to move their son who has down syndrome out of his class and neighborhood school.
More than 1,100 people signed an online petition to keep Ryken at his neighborhood school. According to his parents, the district's plan would mean he would have to be bused to another school. The parents say they feel they were not given a choice in the matter.
Ryken McTighe celebrated his 6th birthday this past weekend with friends from his neighborhood school, but he may be forced to change schools.
"Not a school I get to choose, a school that they choose," said Sarah McTighe.
Sarah says the district wants to move her son to another school with other special needs kids.
"We want what everyone wants for their own kid, a typical kid with a disability or anything, we want the best for him," said Sarah McTighe.
The move would also separate Ryken from his sister who is in the 4th grade.
"She loves him, she is also my little protector," said Sarah.
Ryken's parents are fighting the school district's decision and plan to bring their concerns to the school board.
"A long time ago we thought that kids needed to be in these separate settings, and now all the information states that the children benefit from being with their peers, they benefit from being at their school," said Vanessa DiCarlo.
DiCarlo is an advocate for families going through situations like Ryken's, she says students with or without disabilities benefit by having an integrated school experience.
"How we teach children social relationships is by actually being in a social relationship in a natural setting. If we want people to be adults in our society, and be meaningful, and contribute to the world, we need to be able to give them those experiences," said DiCarlo.
The school district declined to comment on the issue citing privacy laws but says they are working to address the parents concerns.