Deaf student escorted out of Wando by police

Deaf student escorted out of Wando by police
August 16 12:11 2017 Print This Article

Elizabeth Adamson gave the 8th grade commencement speech at Cario Middle School this past June. She was featured in a Post and Courier article. She was looking forward to taking honors classes at Wando High School. She already had her schedule set and had enrolled in JROTC. She attended JROTC orientation beginning Monday, July 31. Her mother Annela Adamson received a phone call the evening of Wednesday, August 2 from Principal Sherry Eppelsheimer asking that Elizabeth not return to the school. No explanation was given.

Elizabeth has Usher syndrome, which is a rare genetic disorder which causes hearing loss and visual impairment. Elizabeth is deaf and communicates using American Sign Language. She is 20% sighted. Despite these challenges, Elizabeth excelled in mainstream classes, earning straight A’s and demonstrated exceptional ability in math and art.

Elizabeth’s annual Individual Education Plan (IEP) was signed April 24 at Cario stating that she would continue in mainstream classes with the same student services at Wando High School. Her mother was subsequently informed that Elizabeth would be placed in a self-contained multi-grade classroom at Charleston County School of the Arts (SOA) in North Charleston. The IEP is a legal document. If any changes in classroom placement or support services are made, federal law requires a meeting of a parent, the student, a classroom teacher, a special education teacher, and a school district representative. Public Law 94-142, Individuals with Disability Act (IDEA), also states that disabled students are to be placed in the least restrictive environment to the greatest extent appropriate.

Lowcountry Source was contacted by Susan Duffy of Mt. Pleasant, who is a parent advocate and has known Elizabeth since she was 3 years old.  Duffy states that Thursday, August 3 Elizabeth and her mother returned to Wando High so she could finish her JROTC orientation week. SOA does not have a JROTC program. Eppelsheimer asked them to leave and had the school resource officer (Mt. Pleasant police) escort them off the campus. Annela Adamson said she would be back and was subsequently served with a trespassing notice.

Duffy contacted East Cooper School Board members Kate Darby (chairwoman) and Chris Staubes about Elizabeth’s plight and received no response. The school board members who showed interest in Elizabeth’s case were Kevin Hollinshead and Chris Collins. Thursday, August 17 marks the first day of school. Elizabeth Adamson’s status remains uncertain.


Robin Steinberger retired after 30 years from Charleston County School District as a high school special education teacher.  She is the education reporter for Lowcountry Source.