Kansas student with special needs allegedly told he can’t wear varsity letter

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WICHITA, Kan. -- A Kansas woman is speaking out after her son was allegedly asked to remove his letter jacket at school, according to KSN.

Jolinda Kelley told KSN her adopted son Michael has special needs and loves to play basketball.

Kelley told KSN that when Michael was recognized for participating on a basketball team, she bought a varsity letter and put it on a letter jacket for him.

Kelley told KSN she was shocked when she heard that her son would not be allowed to wear the jacket at school.

"Another parent, from what I am told, was upset that my son was wearing his letter jacket," Kelley told KSN.

Kelley told KSN Michael was asked to remove the jacket and was given a girls sweatshirt to wear instead.

"It's not just my son," Kelley told KSN. "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."

The school allegedly told the family that only varsity teams were allowed to wear the letter, according to KSN.

KSN reported that they asked if the school would consider allowing students with special needs to wear the letters.

"We have considered it and our decision was no," Ken Thiessen, East High principal, told KSN. "We decided that is not appropriate in our situation because it is not a varsity level competition."

Thiessen told KSN his building decided varsity letters would be for varsity letter winners only.

The family told KSN they reached out to the school district's athletic director Jay Means.

According to KSN, Means told the family when he was the athletic director at Northwest High, their policy was to allow special need students to earn letters, just like other athletes.

"I would definitely be willing to look at it and be sure that kids are being treated fairly," school board member Lynn Rogers told KSN when asked if they would consider making a district-wide policy.

Kelley told KSN she understands each school can make their own rules, but she wants to see a rule change.

The school's superintendent did not comment on the situation because they were in meetings all day but plans to pursue the matter at a school board meeting Monday.