Parents not allowed to walk son into Johnston school

Posted December 29, 2010
Updated December 30, 2010

— A Johnston County couple has pulled their special-needs son out of school after the principal refused to allow them to walk him to class to ease his anxiety.

Kenneth and Christy Dawson said their 7-year-old son, Jake, suffers from a form of autism known as Asperger's syndrome. He also has been diagnosed with attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder.

This fall, the third-grader developed severe separation anxiety, and getting dropped off at school and having to walk in by himself set him off, his parents said.

"He had such severe anxiety making that transition. It was manifesting physically," Christy Dawson said.

"He did have episodes of vomiting (and) severe diarrhea," Kenneth Dawson said.

After about a month, Jake's teacher at Dixon Road Elementary School suggested that his mother or father walk him to the classroom to ease his separation anxiety. Principal Dawn Alligood approved the idea.

"He knew he wasn't going to have to jump out of the car and face the world by himself," Christy Dawson said.

The process worked well for several weeks until other parents started complaining.

Alligood then told the Dawsons that the school doesn't allow parents to walk their children to class to maintain school security. Other parents didn't like the special treatment given to the Dawsons, so Alligood said Jake could no longer get a daily escort to class.

The Dawsons said Alligood asked for a note from Jake's pediatrician, but when the doctor explained that getting walked to class would help reduce Jake's anxiety, they said the principal refused to budge from the policy.

Jake Dawson Parents not allowed to walk son into Johnston school

"Who's getting affected? Jake," Christy Dawson said. "You can only imagine the anxiety level increasing in him. It got so bad that he's seeing a gastroenterologist."

Alligood couldn't be reached for comment.

Johnston County Schools Superintendent Ed Croom declined to comment, citing student privacy laws.

In an e-mail to the Dawsons, Croom wrote, "It is simply not good practice to allow parents to walk children to class. It limits the ability to know who is in the building and, frankly, creates a safety issue for students."

School district spokeswoman Terri Sessoms said Croom deals with parental issues on a case-by-case basis.

The Dawsons now home school Jake.

"Where has the compassion gone?" Christy Dawson said. "Something as simple as walking through a door and getting my child where he needs to be can alleviate so much for him, and they deny him that? I think that's very sad."


This story is closed for comments.

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  • beachgal Jan 6, 2011

    WHat the heck?? Now even parents aren't allowed in the school? Ms. Alligood, you need to grow a backbone!

  • wintermom09 Jan 3, 2011

    Wow. This is ridiculous! As a mother of 4(one of which has been diagnosed with ADHD and is on medication) I can say that I would be outraged if this was my son. And for the superintendent to say that, "It limits the ability to know who is in the building and, frankly, creates a safety issue for students." is a bunch of BS!! Now, we attend Wake county public schools and can't enter a building unless we sign in at the office. Why won't they allow the parents to do that? If it's such a big deal, why won't the school allow to check the child in, and then walk them to class? The electronic system that they use takes a photo of the person and attaches it to a sticker that they wear on their clothing. That way, the school and Staff know that they are supposed to be there. The parents who are complaining should just keep their stuck-up mouths shut and live a day in other people's lives. Get real! What is this school teaching the children? Ignorance, it sounds like...

  • momofboyone Jan 3, 2011

    I was educated in the Wake County Public Schools and thought highly of them until I had to be a parent of a child that had special needs. It is sad when the housekeeping staff tells you that your child is being targeted in hopes that you leave the school system. I did and have been homeschooling since. I had the Assistant Principal come to my home and tell me that she was sorry for the way my son's situation was handled. By the way, she left the public school system shortly after that to teach elsewhere. I think that the school system can make a change in one's child life. Remember, all children are not alike.

  • Mustang Sallie Jan 3, 2011

    When will somebody check out Nash Rocky Mount Schools? Plenty of items to be discussed there...but everyone and yes I mean everyone has given up hope for that school system, the children are and will be the ones to suffer in the long run. You wish that one voice could change a bad situation, but realistically that is not true.

  • Ms.Sonshine Dec 31, 2010

    "People like you just want the kids and the position for that big check and guaranteed employment."

    The "big check" part really made me LOL. I must say with what I bring home I would live on the street if it were not for my husband's income.

    whistler411 you are so right. I DO BEND OVER BACKWARDS for my kids and if I were this child's teacher I would fight for this, because I would be the one to be most in tune to this child's needs, as far as school personnel goes. I put my heart and soul into my students. And at our school I can tell you we have an awesome AU class and teacher. AND I can tell you that we do not just teach the middle of the road we focus on individual students' needs.

    Man, I sure wish some of you guys that are complaining about teachers and demean us would step in our shoes for one day... I'd like to see how you handle it!!!

  • pnw2111 Dec 31, 2010

    To fully understand the needs of this child, we have to ask the parents! Rising a productive, healty child is hard enough,then you threw any special needs into the mix and it is SO much tougher! the old saying: walk a mile in my shoes!
    I never undsertood Aspergers untila year ago when my teenage Gson started all the testing for this. The anxitied can be very debilitating! His went from being anxious to physicall being sick and he couldn't go to school like that either. We had a doctor tell is to: Stop putting him back in the enviroment that was making him sick! Turned out it was school.We tried several meathods and the one we are currently doing is wonderful!
    I agree that their are usually 30-1 ratio in school and 1-1 attention is hard for the teachers. I feel for the teachers that want to give children so much more but time is against them. Their are awesome teachers in the public school system but the system itsself is not set up for our special needs kids! We are supposed to just

  • Rocknhorse Dec 30, 2010

    The point I was trying (albeit unsuccessfully) to make with my one post is this. When you make special concessions for 1 student in a classroom - even if those concession make perfect sense for that child and are justifiable - you will be asked to make concessions for other students. And those concessions may be justifiable for thoes students as well. Unfortunately you have 1 teacher for 30 students.

    I agree that I think the response about this child was handled wrong. But I also understand that there is a 'standard procedure' expected at school. Unfortunately, when exceptions are made for one, exceptions will be expected by many. And often, taking each individual case, they may all make sense. But we strap the hands of the teachers and admins too often.

    This IS an unfortunate situation and I hope they can find a suitable resolution for this child.

  • toocutefb Dec 30, 2010

    every child has the right to an education...unless they cause harm to others...they have a right to go to school THIS CHILD is NOT disrupting anybody or harming therefore he has a right to be there...
    my last post was cut off and was not posted all the way...?

  • brianmcnulty Dec 30, 2010

    If you really want to weigh in on the issue, I suggest you give Johnston county schools. Personally, I am going to start with the Superintendent. All staff phone numbers can be found here:

  • TheBellTollsForThee Dec 30, 2010

    I want to know the real details of this story as there has to be more going on than is stated. Any parent can walk their child into a JoCo classroom as long as they sign in at the front office.

    I think everyone needs to calm down blaming the schools and system until all the facts are known.