Ascension Parish School System denies special treatment for student with disability

Ascension Parish School System denies special treatment for student with disability
Brenan Cannon (Source: WAFB)
Brenan Cannon (Source: WAFB)
Brenan's parents, Bobby and Suzi Cannon (Source: WAFB)
Brenan's parents, Bobby and Suzi Cannon (Source: WAFB)

ASCENSION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - The parents of a Gonzales Middle School student claim the school system is standing in the way of their child's success.

Their son, a seventh grader, was diagnosed with a medical condition, which doctors said could interfere with his ability to learn. They said Ascension Parish Schools is denying him the care he needs.

Brenan Cannon, 12, was focused as he tried to find a solution to the math equations before him. But his parents, Bobby and Suzi, said he responds
much differently in a classroom full of his peers.

"Over the course of the year, he was having behavioral problems. He was suspended for disrespect, teacher disrespect," Bobby Cannon said.

The Cannons said Brenan's suspensions eventually added up to an expulsion.

In 2013, Brenan was diagnosed with hemophilia, a rare disorder that does not allow blood to clot normally. When a patient with hemophilia is injured
it usually takes them longer to heal.

Brenan's parents showed pictures of several injuries he has had since he was a child. They point specifically to one of his face following a four wheeler crash when he was four years old.

"If bleeding does that to your cartilage and your joints, just think what that bleeding might have done to his frontal lobe when they never caught it and didn't know," Bobby Cannon said.

This summer, the Cannons turned to doctors for further evaluation. Bobby said a neuropsychologist at Tulane University Medical Center discovered that Brenan suffered from a traumatic brain injury as a child, and that it could impair his ability to learn and also cause him to speak out of turn in class.

"The school members know this is Brenan. His picture is attached. They know if he is bleeding, bruising or swelling they need to contact someone immediately, but that is as far at the plan goes," Bobby Cannon said.

Brenan's doctor issued a report strongly recommending that Brenan's school also develop a behavior intervention plan to help him better manage stressful situations. It is known as the Section 504 plan, which makes exceptions for students with disabilities. The program is governed by federal guidelines for eligibility.

According to the Ascension Parish School System website, a special committee reviews each student's case and decides whether they qualify. The Cannons said Brenan was denied.

"If you have a diagnosis from a certified doctor, I don't understand what the question is," Suzi Cannon said.

The Cannons are appealing. They fear if the school system committee does not reconsider its decision, it will hurt Brenan's ability to succeed.

"We are contacting the state board of education and filing a complaint with them," Bobby Cannon said.

A spokeswoman for Ascension Parish Schools said the school system cannot comment on individual student issues.

The Cannons said they have a meeting scheduled with school administrators on Thursday.

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