Mother: Special needs teen told he couldn’t wear varsity letters on jacket

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WICHITA, Kansas (KSN) – A Wichita woman is furious, saying her son’s high school asked him to remove his letter jacket in class.

Michael Kelley has Down Syndrome and autism. Kelley is not a varsity athlete but participates in extra-curricular special needs basketball.

His family purchased him a varsity letter to wear on a jacket, like a lot of other students have on their jackets.

The letter is an official varsity letter from Wichita East High School and the school says he is not supposed to have it.

“Another parent, from what I am told, was upset that my son was wearing his letter jacket,” said Jolinda Kelley, Michael’s mother.

She says her son was asked to take off the jacket and given a sweatshirt to wear instead.

According to the school’s policy, the family says it was told only varsity teams can wear the letter.

“Teachers told the parents they would prefer he not wear the letter on his jacket,” said Ken Thiessen, the principal at East High School.

KSN asked Thiessen if the school would consider giving a varsity letter to special needs students.

“We have considered it, and our decision was no. We decided that is not appropriate in our situation because it is not a varsity level competition,” he said.

Kelley says she understands that each school can make their own rules, but wants to see a change.

“It’s not just my son. It’s every student that was out there last night. It’s every student that’s there on Fridays, that plays their hardest and to the best of their capability, regardless what that is,” she said.

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