Moultrie Teen Fights To Participate In Graduation

By: Jacquie Slater Email
By: Jacquie Slater Email

May 24, 2012 -

A Colquitt County High School senior who has Asperger's Syndrome was told he couldn't participate in the graduation ceremony.

Let Ryan Walk At His Graduation. That's the message on a facebook page that has hundreds of supporters.

The Colquitt County Board of Education voted three to one on Monday night not to allow Ryan James, who has Asperger's Syndrome, to participate in graduation ceremonies.

The Colquitt County Schools Superintendent, Leonard McCoy, said the board had to consider some extenuation circumstances when making their decision."

"The Board of Education refused the right of this particular student to participate in graduation. The primary reason being that he had not been a student in the buildings, per se, for the past fourteen months," said McCoy.

Ryan has been receiving alternative education at home. His mother says that decision was made after complaints were made against Ryan at school. Complaints she says were later proven false.

The Board reversed their decision in an emergency meeting Wednesday night. They say he can walk but only with adult supervision. Ryan wants to walk alone.

"I just want Ryan to feel like the rest of the kids. He earned his diploma. He should be able to walk and be proud of his accomplishments," said Gayle Payne, Ryan's mom.

"I really believe that the tact that's been taken by the Colquitt County Board serves the best of both worlds," said McCoy.

Ryan was invited to participate in the rehearsal scheduled for Friday morning. As of Thursday night, he and his mother were unsure if he would choose to participate.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Mike Location: Moultrie on Jun 2, 2012 at 07:26 AM
    Besides, with a diploma from CCHS, he has a wonderful career opportunity with McDonalds. Or, even Burger King!
  • by Tally MOM Location: Tally on May 27, 2012 at 05:53 PM
    my son has Asperberger's and i see no reason why an adult would have to walk with him..they need to be educated abou this other austic disorders...really and these people are teaching our children??
    • reply
      by Sandy on Jun 2, 2012 at 11:18 PM in reply to Tally MOM
      Before we jump the gun as to the school's motives, I think we should wait for another report to clear up what the school is objecting to. I personally feel this area was vague in the report. The headline made it sound like his illness was the sole reason, yet further down it looks like there might have been a behavioral issue. And I too am puzzled as to why he would be granted permission so long as his mother was there as well. I don't believe schools deny walking privileges based solely on physical limitations and have attended graduations with children in crutches and even wheelchairs. There is more to this than is disclosed here. My guess is that some things might be left out due to privacy issues or perhaps even legal entanglement between both parties.
    • reply
      by LaDonna on Jun 5, 2012 at 06:55 AM in reply to Tally MOM
      My daughter has the same condition and she was allowed to walk by herself. I do agree that the school and the kids need to be better educated on this disorder, but I also think there was more to him not being allowed to walk than his having asperbergers.
  • by GOP on May 27, 2012 at 12:45 PM
    WITH ALL THE HYPE THAT YOU PEOPLE ARE SPREADING AND THE FACT THAT HE WAS ALLOWED TO GRADUATE WITH THE CLASS HE DIDNT EVEN SHOW UP FOR GRADUATION SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY HAD A DEATH IN THE FAMILY
  • by DD on May 27, 2012 at 08:41 AM
    If you do your whole degree/diploma/certificate online at a community college or tech school, you get to graduate with everyone else...You don't normally go to the buildings then either...how is this different?
  • by Anonymous Location: Colquitt County , Georgia on May 26, 2012 at 05:38 AM
    He is apart of our Community. Ryan has earned the right to graduate. Congratulations Ryan!
  • by Dad Location: GA on May 26, 2012 at 12:20 AM
    The kid was not a student.
    He did not have an IEP.
    He was NOT getting a diploma from the high school, but rather from the Internet based program he took for the past 14 or so months.
    There was a weapon involved in the past.
    ..what peers? what class? He was home-schooled using an Internet-based program.
    Has anyone vetted the death in the family or are mom and son on vacation?
  • by Anonymous Location: Florida on May 25, 2012 at 06:55 PM
    Students with disabilities have to be served. If they are a danger to others, they are served at home. It costs the school system lots of money to pay a teacher for just one child. This would only be done if the child was truly considered dangerous. Sounds like a search and adult supervision are reasonable conditions of him walking with others he's threatened.
    • reply
      by charles on May 26, 2012 at 03:41 AM in reply to Anonymous
      Whom has this kid threatened? Do you know what aspergers is? The only reason they dony want him to walk is that he would threaten the others is by embarrassing them. And they all should be embarrassed by their actions for treating him the way they do. The rich well to-do family that is behind all of this should think about it, what if it was their kid with this disease.
      • reply
        by Sandy on Jun 2, 2012 at 11:22 PM in reply to charles
        Charles, from the previous posts it's clear that there were many factors that were not listed in this article which precluded his participation. In fact, I am shocked and dismayed by the idea that the school caved (despite his eventual non-attendance). You see aspergers and immediately you think the decision was based on embarrassment? I've attended graduations with children in wheelchairs and those I knew had a plethora of developmental issues. No one made a fuss. Stop allowing yourself to be goaded by an obvious attempt to promote one-sided sympathy with vague information and innuendo. He has aspergers...aspergers was most definitely NOT the reason behind the school's decision.
  • by Anonymous on May 25, 2012 at 05:35 PM
    Just another case that goes to show: Being reasonably intelligent is not a requirement to being on a school board.
  • by LEONARD Location: EUSTIS on May 25, 2012 at 05:28 PM
    HE IS ALLOWED TO GRADUATE AND PARTICPATE IN ALL PUBLIC SCHOOL SOCIAL AND OFFICIAL FUNCTIONS FOOTBALL BASEBALL TRACK CHOIR EVEN THOU HE WAS HOME SCHOOLED FOR THE LAST YEAR IN THAT SCHOOL DISTRICT PLUS THAT IS STATE LAW IN FLA, READ IT SOME TIME,,,
    • reply
      by Anonymous on May 26, 2012 at 06:09 AM in reply to LEONARD
      This situation is happening in GEORGIA, not Florida.
  • by charles on May 25, 2012 at 02:15 PM
    Where is the bullying law at in this case. He suffers from a disease and he is being singled out, by not only his peers but the teachers and staff of the school board. He cant help he suffers, he didnt ask for this to be the way it is in his life, so step aside and let him live his life as a person no matter the case. Someone needs to stand up for him among his classmates instead of trying to hold him down, they should see him as an inspiration and not an embarrasment.
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