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Paralyzed Girl Aided by Court Starts School

September 14, 1987|From Associated Press

A 6-year-old Palos Verdes Estates girl, paralyzed from the neck down, wheeled herself into a kindergarten room today while school officials waited for copies of a court order requiring she be allowed to attend regular classes.

"It was very smooth. She arrived on campus and drove herself in her wheelchair over to her classroom," school spokeswoman Nancy Mahr said.

A ruling by state hearing officer Spencer Joe gave Stephanie Stratford the right to attend regular classes provided by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District. School started today.

The district's attorney, Sharon Watt, said Sunday she would recommend that the order be appealed to state or federal court. (Story, Part 2, Page 1).

No Decision by District

But today, Mahr said the district had reached no decision on an appeal.

Joe's order followed a five-day hearing by the state Office of Administrative Hearings that concluded last month in Palos Verdes.

The hearing was called after her parents objected to a decision by Los Angeles County and Palos Verdes school officials that the girl should be taught by special education teachers in a class with other handicapped children.

Stephanie, who was born with a tumor on her spine and needs a respirator to survive, gets around in an oversized wheelchair that she drives with her chin. She paints and draws by placing a stylus in her mouth.

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