WHITEHALL, MICH. - "As we're going to school, kids will see her and yell....'Hi Anna,'" said Justina Bernhardt.
10-year-old Anna Bernhardt is loving the 3rd grade at Ealy Elementary in Whitehall.
"The kids are really receptive and the staff that works directly with her is wonderful," said Bernhardt.
But that love is challenging at times because Anna has a terminal illness called Sanfilippo Syndrome.
"The nickname for the disease is childhood Alzheimers. It mimics Alzheimers: they experience dementia, they experience great pain, they lose skills and move backwards," said Bernhardt.
This past spring Anna's parents were told by school leaders in Whitehall that they wanted to send the 10-year-old to a different school that serves special needs students.
"That was really disappointing to us," said Bernhardt.
Anna's parents said they met with school leaders and discussed multiple options but eventually took legal action. Late last week they learned that a judge ruled in their favor, and 10-year-old Anna will be allowed to stay at Ealy Elementary.
"What this decision does is it takes an at risk child and it decreases the risks that she has," said Bernhardt.
The judge also ruled that Ealy Elementary will have to develop a new individualized education plan for Anna.
We reached out to Whitehall Public schools and received a statement from the Superintendent which reads in part:
It should be noted that the administrative law judge found that the district did not make any procedural violations during this process....Moving forward we will consider all options available to us as directed by the administrative law judge."
"Your child has a right to get an education that feels appropriate for your child even if it's about placement," said Bernhardt.
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