ABBEVILLE, La. (KLFY) — Vermilion Parish School Superintendent Tommy Byler has issued a statement regarding an incident on Thursday in which students at Abbeville High School made fun of another student with disabilities and joyriding in his personal wheelchair on campus.
The statement was issued Tuesday afternoon, after News 10 reported the incident and several videos of it were posted on social media.
“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,” the statement read. “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.”
Byler said the students had keys to the building provided by someone at the 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,'” the statement reads. “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, Philip Freeman, arrived and addressed the students involved, Byler said.
According to the statement, 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 its use for the student.
School officials are still investigating the situation and any disciplinary actions against students and or faculty are confidential, authorities said.
“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,” Byler said.
Marilyn Mitchell, grandmother of the student who was the victim of the prank, said his mobility is the wheelchair.
“His ambulation is horrible,” she 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.”
Read the statrement in its entirety here: