Parents fear for Oakman children
Forsee teasing, ridicule, bullying
By T. Kelly
The Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — Parents of students at Oakman Orthopedic School continue the battle to keep their school open. Approximately 50 supporters marched, rolled wheelchairs and maneuvered walkers June 6 in front of Erma Henderson School, 16101 West Chicago, to protest the closing of their school and relocation of their most vulnerable children two and a half miles away to Henderson.
“They want to send our younger POHI (Physically or Health Impaired) children over here. They already have 917 children, and the principal said at a meeting she will definitely need more security if Oakman students come,” Parent organization President Alyia Moore said as she walked.
“If they need more security, there’s a reason.”
A parent coming out of Henderson as the children and parents marched said the school had gang problems.
Derrick Williams, a father of two — an Oakman graduate and a current fifth grader — said there is one gang on the north side of Chicago, Pete Rock, the Joy Street gang and others all competing in the area.
The portion of the Oakman student body scheduled for Henderson includes the third to fifth grade POHI students.
“Any time you have 900 students, it is never going to be like (it is) over at Oakman,” Williams said. “I’m afraid they are going to segregate our children in a little special room.”
The problem with that, he said, is that they will be singled out for ridicule and teasing.
“I know; I’ve been in their shoes. I was special needs. These children already have enough to deal with,” Williams said.
“It’s hard to learn when you are walking through the halls and kids are saying things about you. That’s why I love Oakman. They have taught a generation of kids that if you touch (a special needs student) it is not contagious. Children are cruel, and they have to learn not to stare or call names,” Williams said.
He put both of his sons in Oakman although neither is special needs. “It taught them a lot being here.”
Anyone can be special needs tomorrow, Williams said. “You could be in an accident today and end up in special education.”
Moore said the parents have not yet received anything in writing to know that the buildings to which their children will be sent in the fall are ready to receive special needs children.