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Mother of girl with grim diagnosis seeks a better education for her child

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Posted at 7:19 PM, Jul 10, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-11 10:35:23-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- A Utah mother is on a mission to get her 12 year old placed in a first grade class room this fall.

Alexis Watson has a rare genetic abnormality that has her in special education classes, but her mother and physicians think she’s ready for the challenge a regular classroom can bring.

Since before Alexis’ birth, doctors have been telling Angie Watson what her daughter Alexis will never accomplish time and time again. She wasn’t expected to make it past delivery, or to her first birthday, but she overcomes her grim diagnosis every time.

“First not passed birth, then not go home from the hospital, then don’t expect anything,” Watson said. “I was literally told that they expected her to lay on her back in a vegetative state and stare at the ceiling for the rest of her life.”

Now educators say the 12 year old can’t go into regular classes, but her mother said she’s just looking for a district that will let the little girl try.

Alexis is missing part of her 4th chromosome and has three of the 11th. It’s an abnormality so rare there’s no information or treatment. But every day the pint-sized preteen surpasses expectations. After eight years in special education classes, Alexis’ mother says the 12 year old is mentally on par with most first graders.

She’s starting to read and write, and her mother wants Alexis to be given the chance at a regular class experience.

“She needs special accommodations in the effect that she has a wheel chair and she needs one-on-one assistance for safety and communication, aside from that I would expect she could do the homework and answer the questions and take the tests like the typical first graders,” Watson said.

Salt Lake City School District officials said they can’t comment on Alexis’ case because of privacy but sent FOX 13 News the district policy when it comes to special education. The policy says students are re-evaluated every three years to determine whether they are still in need of special classes, but Watson said a 12 year old wouldn’t be allowed in a first grade class.

“They say it’s best for the child to be moved along with kids her own age, it just kind of drives me batty because she fits in with first graders, she doesn’t fit in with teenagers,” Watson said.

Watson has no anger toward the district; she said she simply wants to find one with a little less red tape.

Watson said she’ll move anywhere to give her daughter the opportunity of a better education, even if it means out of state.

“There’s got to be someone who’s willing to look beyond their habits and red tape and look at the child,” she said. “We don’t typically look at our children and say, ‘No, I don’t think you’ll succeed at that so don’t even try.”