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Charlie Knuth's family fights for boy's schooling

12/17/2012 0 Comments Contact Our News Editors

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Written by Jim Collar

The mother of a Darboy child battling a rare skin disease is refusing to take “no” for an answer after learning her son is no longer enrolled in the Kimberly public school system.

Trisha Knuth says 6-year-old Charlie, who has attended school in the Kimberly Area School District through the open enrollment process, should remain in the district that developed a specialized plan for her son’s education. The Knuths live in the Kaukauna Area School District.

“They took the opportunity while he was in the hospital to rid themselves of a problem,” she said.

Kimberly schools Superintendent Bob Mayfield says the district has a desk waiting for Charlie when he is able to return to class, but is required by state law to reject applications for students who require a home-based education.

“We’re absolutely committed to Charlie when he’s able,” Mayfield said, “and that’s the key — when he’s able.”

Charlie suffers from the rare skin disease epidermolysis bullosa, or EB, which makes skin fragile due to a lack of protein between the skin's layers. He underwent a second stem cell transplant at a Minnesota hospital in July, and spent the required 100 days at the hospital and nearby Ronald McDonald House.

Charlie returned to home to Darboy in late October. His immune system is growing stronger, but he’s still not ready for a classroom environment.

His mother wants the school district to show the flexibility his education requires, and others have joined the Knuth family in calling for Charlie’s return to the Kimberly district. Supporters started an Internet petition that drew more than 1,500 responses as of Friday afternoon.

Mayfield said it isn’t a matter of what the district can or is willing to provide.

State law outlines rules children must meet to retain their seats in school districts in which they don’t reside. Students can lose their open enrollment status if they don’t attend class within the first 21 days of the school year.

While students who lose their open enrollment status can reapply, state law requires districts to reject applications for students who require a home-based education. Charlie can receive at-home education through Kaukauna schools.

Mayfield said the Kimberly school district shares in the community’s wishes for Charlie’s recovery.

“This isn’t about Charlie,” Supt. Bob Mayfield said. “We can’t do it this way, right now, because of the rules.”

News Source: 
Green Bay News
Rare Disease of Interest: 
Epidermolysis Bullosa