ABBEVILLE, La. (KLFY) – An Abbeville mother, Kimberly Mitchell, sent a letter expressing how a senior prank at Abbeville High School went too far. Mitchell told News 10 that several students partook in a prank where they were making fun of her son with disabilities and using his personal wheelchair on campus.
The students’ prank happened on the school campus last Thursday. The family expressed the students were given access to the school. There are several videos on social media of the students’ behavior.
The 9th grade student Tay’Shawn Landry said, “I was upset. I was mad. I was crying. I tried to stop myself from crying because I wanted to go to school. [I] couldn’t. I was just upset,”
He continued, “Some people that I know. Some people that I go to school with and they want to turn their back on me and do this; that is not acceptable.”
Marilyn Mitchell, one of his grandmothers, said his mobility is the wheelchair.
“His ambulation is horrible,” Marilyn said. “He never stood. He had never walked in his life. He has been crawling, and then after the month of the surgery, he was trying to ambulate. Now he has scoliosis making it even harder for him to move around,” she said. “Let them see how it is to be on that floor on that cement going back and forth. Just how they were riding and closing whatever. See that pain. See the agony. See the frustration of disability people.”
Clarice Landry, the other grandmother, said she is concerned about her grandson’s mental health.
“With doing something like this, a prank of this nature, his mentality status,” Landry said. “In the time frame of them doing this to Tay’Shawn and all what he has been through can play a role in his mental status. With everything that’s going on in the world today with the kids, we don’t know how it’s going to affect him in the long term.”
Both of his grandmothers expressed their concerns as to why no one has been held accountable.
“Where are the consequences for these children? His mother has heard anything about the consequences that they’re going to bring forth to these kids. Why did they allow this? We are taxpayers so the school system is allowing the kids to go into the school to do this and mock children with disabled,” said Landry.
She expressed how all her grandson and other kids with disabilities only want to be like everybody else would walk normally.
“They say that these are good kids. I’m not saying that they’re not good kids, but if you are a good kid, why did you do this to Tay’Shawn? Why did y’all mock him like that? From what I can understand, they said they wouldn’t making fun of him, but when you sit in his wheelchair, you were making fun of him, and that’s not acceptable at all,” said Landry. “If they could only walk a day in his shoes, they could see how he felt when he found out that they did that to him. How would they feel if someone would do that to them or if they had a family member that had a disability and someone would take and do something like that how would they feel?,” Landry said.
On Tuesday, Vermilion Parish School Board Superintendent Tommy Byler responded to KLFY News about the situation. You can read his response below.
May 16, 2023
STATEMENT CONCERNING SENIOR PRANK AND VIRAL VIDEO AT ABBEVILLE HIGH SCHOOL
On the evening of Thursday, May 11th, law enforcement placed calls to school officials and central office personnel about unsupervised students inside of Abbeville High School in the midst of a “senior prank”. Upon arrival, central office officials questioned students and were handed over two keys given to the students by a school employee. At this time, this incident is still under an internal investigation and necessary disciplinary actions could result from the outcome of this investigation.
Clean up of the school took place immediately by the students after the principal, Mr. Philip Freeman, arrived and addressed the students involved.
On Friday, videos became available via social media that the students gained access into a locked room that housed an electric wheelchair on loan to an AHS student that uses it during the school day. Multiple students were seen riding through the halls on the wheelchair and displayed actions that were insensitive and disrespectful to students with disabilities. Abbeville High and the Vermilion Parish School System are completely disappointed in the actions of these students and in no way condone this sort of behavior. School officials on Friday notified the central office that apologies from students to the student who utilizes the electric wheelchair had been offered and conversations between students had taken place.
The Vermilion Parish School System has been in contact with the company that partners with the school to ensure that the chair was not damaged in any way that would jeopardize the effectiveness of its use for the AHS student. The school board will seek damages from those who have accessed the chair in a non-prescribed manner if it becomes necessary.
School officials are still investigating the situation and any disciplinary actions against students and or faculty are confidential.
The Vermilion Parish School System does not condone any disrespect to students with disabilities nor any behaviors that include damage to school property in any manner.