BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Edward Speidel and Amy Szafranski share four kids together and two dogs.
Their 10-year-old son has autism and a host of other challenges, like Pica, an eating disorder that causes people to eat things that are not food. While most of the kids in the Buffalo Public School District went back into the buildings for in-person learning, their son did not.
“Imagine your ten-year-old autistic son saying ‘What did I do wrong? Why can’t I go to school? I’ll be good. I just want to go to school.'” said Speidel, who said there are other students in the district in similar situations. “As a father, imagine how you’d feel.”
The family provided all-medical exemption paperwork that the district required. The family’s doctor wrote a note stating “because of his medical condition it is imperative that he wear a face shield instead of a face mask.”
The family says the district approved a medical exemption, but instead of letting their son attend school with a face shield, as the doctor recommended, they assigned him to remote learning.
“Remote learning, it really doesn’t work,” said Szafranski. “When you have a classroom full of autistic children, each kid is an individual. They all have their individual needs.”
The family has filed a lawsuit against Dr. Kriner Cash and the Buffalo Public School District. The district declined to comment. There is information on the district’s website about medical exemptions for children with disabilities.
The CDC recommends mask exemptions for kids under two and people with certain disabilities.
Angelica Morrison is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.