There are allegations that a Brooklyn principal blocked two students from participating in a spelling bee because they are in special education. IS 252 eighth grader Lamarre St. Phard won his class spelling bee, and since no other classes had spelling bees, he was made school champion. But he says that Principal Medis Brown would not let him participate in a districtwide spelling bee (the next step to the big Scripps National Spelling Bee) and told him, "You don't have the brains to do it. You're gonna go to the first round and get eliminated and make the school look bad."
Then Brown held another school spelling bee; St. Phard was eliminated, but the winner and runner up decided not to compete in the regional bee, leaving the next winner, Christian Cartagena, who is also in special education. So Brown decided no one would represent the school. While she says her decision was not based upon the special education status of the students, but other teachers and school staffers are upset with Brown's behavior and decisions; a librarian said Brown referred to St. Phard as "a special-ed student who can't even read" (St. Phard is reportedly in special ed due to a behavior issue).
St. Phard tells the Daily News and the Post, "I'm gonna keep studying to show her that special ed students can participate and I'm gonna stand up for special ed students. That really hurts, to tell someone they don't have brains because they're special ed... A lot of them are smart kids - they're just kind of shy." And if you're curious about how students study for the Scripps National Spelling Bee, check out the study resources Scripps has on its website and also the movie Spellbound.