An undated Google view of Wichita East High School in...

An undated Google view of Wichita East High School in Wichita, Kansas. Credit: Google

Michael Kelley, a special-needs student at Wichita East High School in Kansas, just loves to play basketball, according to his mother.

However, after his family bought him a varsity letter to recognize his participation in the school's extracurricular special-needs basketball program, his mother, Jolinda Kelley, told a local TV station that another parent wanted her adopted son to take off the jacket.
“Another parent, from what I am told, was upset that my son was wearing his letter jacket,” she told Wichita TV station KSNW.

She added that Michael, who has Down syndrome and autism, was asked to remove the jacket and instead put on a sweatshirt — the reason being that only varsity athletes can wear the letter.

“Teachers told the parents they would prefer he not wear the letter on his jacket,” East High's principal, Ken Thiessen, told the station.

According to the station, at least one other school in the district allows special-needs students to earn varsity letters, but East High’s principal said they decided against it because it wasn’t considered top-level participation.

“We have considered it and our decision was no,” he said. "We decided that is not appropriate in our situation because it is not a varsity level competition.”

According to Yahoo, a petition has been started to petition the school to change its policy, and as of noon Saturday, it had earned over 22,000 signatures.

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