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Cheerleader: School Won't Let Wheelchair on Turf Field

Brock Fritz

A Missouri school district is disputing that it is preventing a cheerleader from participating due to the concern that her wheelchair might damage the turf football field.

According to WDAF-TV in Kansas City, 18-year-old Lacy Kiper, who was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta Type 5, is in her second year cheering at Truman High School in Independence. Her family says that the school district is preventing her from going on the field with the rest of the cheerleaders.

“They didn’t want my wheels, I guess, to be too heavy and damage a little bit of the turf for me to get stuck in it,” Kiper said. “But even for the basketball gym they said no. And I was like, ‘That’s a floor that I go on all the time.’

“It irritates me especially because I’m not even being given the, ‘Hey, do you think you could?’ or the ‘Hey, this is coming up in advance — everybody else doesn’t know yet but we want to know your thoughts on how you could participate.’ “

Charles Kiper, Lacy’s father, told WDAF that he told the school he would put Lacy’s wheelchair on mats if that would help the situation.

“I’ll be there for every game if they want,” he said. “I’ll be sure that she’s got someone to assist her in any way to be a part of this team. And they have pretty much turned me down on most everything.”

The Independence School District told WDAF that it needs Charles Kiper to sign privacy releases in order to talk about the situation. However, Charles said he doesn’t want to give up too many of his daughter’s rights.

When the situation started to become public, Independence School District superintendent Dr. Dale Herl said, “A local newspaper recently published an opinion editorial with significant inaccuracies. The District cannot substantively respond to such inaccuracies without consent to release student records from the parent. In this matter, the parent chose not to sign HIPAA and FERPA releases to allow the District to respond.

“Without those releases, the District is limited in what it can discuss. While the Independence School District cannot respond substantively to the editorial, the District would like to reiterate that it takes the safety of all involved in our activities seriously, and remains committed to ensuring that our programs and activities are inclusive, safe, and welcoming for all students.”

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