Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityNKY boy's family fights for accommodations to make it easier for him to get around school | WKRC
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NKY boy's family fights for accommodations to make it easier for him to get around school

NKY boy's family fights for accommodations to make it easier for him to get around school (WKRC)
NKY boy's family fights for accommodations to make it easier for him to get around school (WKRC)
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ERLANGER, Ky. (WKRC) - A first-grade student in the Tri-State is struggling at school, but it has nothing to do with his grades. He's having a tough time just getting around the building. Now, his family is reaching out for help.

"He started showing symptoms when he was around two years old," said Rowan Marshall's dad, Curtis.

Curtis says Rowan was born with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. It's named after the three doctors who first observed it.

"He was standing on his feet, on the top part of his feet, so he had to have surgery to release his tendon so he could walk again," said Curtis.

Charcot-Marie progresses over time.

"It can start whenever it wants, it can be as aggressive as it wants," Curtis said.

Now, at age seven, Rowan is able to walk with the help of ankle braces.

Rowan tries to be a good role model to his baby brother, Logan, who is also living with Charcot-Marie-Tooth. Some days, he says, it's hard to get into the swing of things.

He doesn't let very much stop him, as you'll notice," said Curtis. "What he wants most, however, is just to be able to do everyday normal things.

Rowan attends Lindeman Elementary in Erlanger, but there is a problem.

"The school doesn't have any way to get from floor to floor without using stairs," Curtis said.

Stairs are one of Rowan's biggest challenges, and Lindeman has no elevator. Rowan's dad asked the school district superintendent, Chad Molley, about it.

"The solution was to switch Rowan's school," his dad said.

But Curtis didn't want to do that

Local 12's Liz Bonis asked Superintendent Molley in writing if this is true, and if he would speak on camera about it. Through a spokesperson, he declined.

He did send a statement, which reads:

The Erlanger-Elsmere School District and Lindeman Elementary School have worked closely with Rowan and his family to meet his current needs. We will continue to work cooperatively with the Marshall family to explore all available options to meet Rowan's needs should they change in the future.

The problem with that, according to attorney Randy Blankenship, who now represents the Marshall family, is that accommodations need to be made before Rowan's Charcot-Marie-Tooth declines.

"There's all kinds of things they could do. They could move the location of the classes to one floor, that would help. They could put in an elevator for him, of course. They could use a wheelchair lift so he could ride up and down the stairs," said Blankenship. "I mean, there's all kinds of things they could do."

Blankenship recently sent a letter to the school pointing that out.

"Unfortunately, Lindeman Elementary is, apparently, the only two-story school building in the district which does not have an elevator," said Blankenship.

He says, because of the year Lindeman was built, an elevator is not currently required by law.

"But that doesn't mean they are out of any obligations. They still need to make the building accessible for the child," he said.

Bonis wrote back and asked Superintendent Molley if the district is willing to consider any of those specific options.

Molley's communications team member, Cindy Bruestle, referred Local 12 to the initial statement.

In the meantime, community members who advocate for all children, including those living with disabilities, such as pediatrician Joe Bailey, say challenges for any child just getting to class could have long-lasting consequences.

Dr. Bailey is not part of Rowan's current medical team.

Childhood's difficult enough when you are in the mainstream. It's even worse if you are not," Bruestle said. "So, its just really important to try and help that child do what they want to do, obviously within reason.

That brings us back to the reason Rowan's family says they want his story to be told

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"It's not just about my kids, but what happens if someone gets in an accident and needs a cast on? Are they going to send them to a different school? What's the solution here?" Curtis said. "It can't just be my kids. It's going to affect a lot more than just my kids."

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