Special Needs Student Segregated During Performance, No One Sees A Problem

by Toni Hammer

Student with cerebral palsy not allowed to perform on stage

As 2015 draws to a close, many parents find themselves sitting in school gymnasiums for their child’s holiday play or concert. They hold their cell phones high in the air to capture the adorable magic and their smiles light up the room with pride for their son or daughter.

That is unless your son isn’t on stage with the other students but instead on the floor – completely segregated from his peers. That’s exactly what happened to Cidalia Vitorino and her ten-year-old son, Camron Silva, at Spencer Borden Elementary School.

Silva has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, but his mother told The Mighty that he’s “been on stage for other performances with his classmates before, so I’m not sure why they excluded him this time. I’m baffled by the entire situation.”

Baffled and, rightfully so, pissed off. She told The Herald News, “I don’t understand, there was no reason for it. They’re not going to get away with this… I never thought in a million years this would happen to my son.” Vitorino even approached the principal, Kate Cobb, about the situation during the performance but was shrugged off and told the whole thing was set up by the music teacher.

Cobb has since issued a public apology for what transpired and said that “all staff will participate in disability awareness and sensitivity training to further our commitment to an inclusive learning environment.”

Sensitivity training is great, but what about some common sense training? There had to have been plenty of staff and faculty in attendance and not one of them saw Silva sitting on the floor and thought, “Huh. That’s not right. Maybe we can put him on stage with the rest of the students”?

One of two things happened when the program began. Either the staff which was present didn’t see anything wrong with what was happening or they shirked any responsibility for the situation, like Cobb chose to do when approached, and just turned a blind eye. Either scenario is absolutely deplorable.

We’re living in 2015 and planning a trip to Mars, but we can’t have all the students together on stage for a holiday concert? What kind of message does that send to not only Silva, but the other students as well? What is that school teaching them about inclusion, about equality, about fairness? I hope the students learn about these qualities elsewhere since obviously the staff is too inept to do so.

These are tumultuous times with anger running rampant within the younger generation and a big reason for that is shit like this. Children are feeling excluded, feeling like outcasts, feeling like they’re different and no one loves them. What happened at Spencer Borden Elementary is only fueling that fire of rage and sadness. Shame on every member of the staff who was in attendance for not stepping up and doing something. All of them need to either grow a pair or find a new job.