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Students today are taught to “run, hide, fight” during a school shooting — but what if you can’t do any of those? Many parents fear that school lockdown plans are forgetting about kids with disabilities.
Seth Chessman can’t move his legs below his knees. The 10-year-old navigates life pretty well with a wheelchair, or sometimes a skateboard he uses to get around school. But his mom, Contessa Chessman, worries he would struggle to escape during a fire or an active shooter situation.
“If there is an emergency situation, he can’t get up and run out,” Contessa Chessman, 46, of Anaheim Hills, California, told TODAY. “It paralyzes me to think about it to be honest.”
When she talked with the school about Seth’s individualized education program (IEP), she asked about evacuation plans. In an emergency, a teacher would pick Seth up and lug him out. Other students are responsible for helping him find a teacher to carry him.
It doesn’t seem like enough, she said. “In a panicked situation it is going to be every child taking care of themselves.”
“We don’t think much about the … inaccessible structures,” Valerie Novack, a Portlight Funded Fellow at the Center for American Progress who studies gaps in emergency preparedness for the elderly and people with disabilities, told TODAY. “We need to be accounting for (children with disabilities) in ways that do not include just the learning experience.”