Reporting Ken MacLeod
LAWRENCE (CBS) – A 13-year-old Lawrence boy will be reunited with his classmates tomorrow.
It’s not that the youngster hasn’t been at school every day. He has.
But elevator problems have forced him to sit alone — day in and day out.
Khank Tran can help his wheelchair-bound son with some things, but felt frustrated and powerless to end the boy’s isolation at school.
WBZ-TV’s Ken MacLeod reports
“I didn’t know how long he was going to be suffering,” says the elder Tran.
Unable to walk since a freak spinal cord injury, Huy Tran has spent the last five weeks at the Wetherbee School in Lawrence doing his lessons alone in the first floor nurse’s office.
“I get really tired and bored,” says Huy. “I will usually take a nap on the desk.”
That’s because the 13-year-old has been blocked from using the school’s elevator to reach his normal classroom upstairs.
The state ordered 16 Lawrence elevators shut down back in late September — at schools, the library, and senior center — after discovering the city had failed to correct a laundry list of safety violations over the summer.
His dad says day after day of studying in solitary — piled on top of the mystery that still surrounds his paralysis — has made Huy depressed and even angry.
“That silently affected him a lot,” says his father.
“Everyday I wish for the elevator to be fixed,” laments Huy. “So I can go upstairs and see my friends again.”
Interim School Superintendent Mary Lou Bergeron told the Lawrence Eagle tribune that teachers have tried to make sure that Huy didn’t fall behind.
But the elevator repair and inspection process dragged on for weeks — while his dad called and emailed both school and city leaders asking ‘Why?’
“I got upset,” says Khank Tran. “Yes. I said ‘This has to stop!’”
But it wasn’t until late Thursday that state inspectors flashed the green light.
“I can smile now,” says the elder Tran with a grin.
“Yeah, I kind of got excited,” says his son with an even bigger one.
So when Huy rolls up the wheelchair ramp to school on Friday morning, he won’t have to stop at the nurse’s office.
It’ll be onto the elevator and up to class.
Huy isn’t the only Lawrence child separated from the class at school by the elevator snafu.
Eleven year old Sara Acosta-Terrero has been going through much the same thing over at Frost Middle School.