WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- Twelve-year-old Rylie Lewis misses her friends.
"My friends actually texted me and said, 'Where are you? Are you sick?' I’m like, no. I can’t be there.'"
Her parents won't allow her to attend Stilwell Junior High in West Des Moines because the school won't allow Rylie's personal nurse to accompany her. Rylie, born with Spina Bifida, uses a wheel chair and has a host of medical problems. Her mother, Darcie Lewis, says she and her husband have paid for a nurse to accompany their daughter to school since the age of three. But that changed when Rylie started attending Stilwell this year.
"It seems like their biggest excuse for the change is that everything is so much faster and that they’re just trying to keep her up with her peers and they’re trying to make her more independent."
Darcie and Clayton Lewis say they, too, want their daughter to be as independent as possible, but not at the cost of her health. In particular, the school would like Rylie to change her catheter without assistance. Darcie says a few days of doing so resulted in Rylie contracting a urinary tract infection.
That concerns Rylie's doctors. Four of them have sent letters to the school saying Rylie "requires a qualified, licensed, home care nurse at school" due to "recurrent urinary tract infections" and "complex airway issues."
Rylie would prefer to have her nurse at school, too.
"It's more in my comfort zone," she says.
Even though Rylie misses her friends, her parents refuse to send her back to school without her nurse.
"And it’s only because I want her to be safe and healthy," says Darcie.
The West Des Moines Community School District issued the following statement:
"The West Des Moines Community School District cannot comment on any specific student record. Student records containing personally identifiable information must be kept confidential as required by state and federal law."