US Teen Allowed to Take Classes Using Robot After 4 Year Battle with School

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Earlier this month, a Hudson, Massachusetts, teen struck a deal with Hudson Public Schools that allows him to send a robot to class in his stead to interact with teachers and other students because he has a rare genetic disorder - Common Variable Immunodeficiency - that makes him vulnerable to infections.

After a four-year struggle, the Hudson Public Schools District finally agreed to let 13-year-old Keegan Concannon use robotic equipment to interact with his seventh-grade classes as part of a settlement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

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"This is a major victory for families all across the country who have been fighting for students who need to use these devices," Keegan's mother, Laura, told the MetroWest Daily News last month.

"It was Keegan's decision to talk with the Department of Justice," Laura added. "He wanted to make a difference and impact for all the students who need these devices. He doesn't want any other family to go through this."

"We've been fighting for a long time. He's a smart young man. He has such a strong desire to learn. He's a 4.0 student. He just wants to be part of his teachers, part of his classmates and the everyday environment he misses," Laura added, CBS Boston reported.

Last year, Keegan missed more than 100 days of school at Quinn Middle School due to his condition. However, even then, the school district denied Keegan the right to use robotic equipment that can be operated remotely and utilizes two-way visual communication to partake in class activities and lessons. According to his mother, Keegan had to rely on email to communicate with other students and teachers — sometimes teachers would take multiple days to respond. 

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However, that all charged when Hudson Superintendent Marco Rodrigues was recently hired. He took the time to learn about Keegan's condition and was committed to providing equal educational opportunities to him.

"We will continue to work closely with our students and families and ensure that our students are receiving adequate supports to make academic progress," Rodrigues wrote after the US Attorney's Office reached an agreement with the school district.

"In addition to facts and figures, students learn important social and collaborative skills in the classroom," said US Attorney Andrew E Lelling, according to the MetroWest Daily News. "As new technologies emerge that enable students with disabilities to be able to communicate effectively in classroom discussions and share more fully in those learning experiences, we must ensure that unnecessary and unlawful barriers do not inhibit their ability to fully participate in the classroom environment."

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