Improvements made at Stoner-Thomas School

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LEXINGTON, N.C. -- For years, parents at the Stoner-Thomas School have complained to school officials that the campus does not have the necessary resources for their special needs children. Finally, parents say they are starting to see the results of their advocacy.

At last night's open house, parents say they were surprised to see a handicap accessible bathroom. Until now, parents say their kids, some of whom are wheelchair-bound, had no access to handicap bathrooms.

Parents also say the school added a dining area for students. In the past, students were bussed to another school to eat lunch, which parents say severely cut into the class time students were getting. For many parents, this was their chief concern, and they're relieved to see it mediated.

"They'll have more time in the classroom to work on their subjects, work on their life skills," says Jamie Hallman, the mom of twins at the school. "Because of the busing, that wasn't possible. Now that the students will eat lunch at school, they'll get those hours back."

Hallman and others credit the renovations to a new superintendent and a new principal at the school. Plus, parents banded together, determined to see changes for their kids.

"It was time for some of the parents to step up and take the role of advocating for our children," says Ira Matney, a parent to a Stoner-Thomas middle school student. "Because if we weren't going to advocate for them, nobody else was."

Matney says the parents at Stoner-Thomas are in a unique situation because many of their children can't communicate. So, oftentimes, parents have no idea what is going on at school.

"There have been children here for the past 30 years that have been overlooked," he says.

Classes start on Monday for Stoner-Thomas students. Parents say they're excited about the renovations, but there are still many more they hope to see, like the addition of a handicap accessible playground.