MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A school that prides itself on community says someone in the community stole from their students, and what they took hurts more than the students’ education.
Over the weekend, someone cut a hole in a fence and stole tricycles used by special needs pre-K students at Belle Forest Community School in Southeast Memphis.
“The fact that you would come take something from the kids, I have no words for that,” Principal Tanisha Heaston said. “It brings about a sense of heightened awareness that no place is safe.”
The fence may be fixed, but that does little for the students who’ve gone without critical equipment this week.
“These tricycles are special, because we do have special needs students here that really need special-designed tricycles to help them be able to function as a normal student,” Heaston said.
Now those students have to suffer because of someone else’s actions.
“Not having it takes away from those options we have for the students and they’re looking for the bikes, they want to ride the bikes, they want to ride the scooters,” teacher Arleana Hayes said. “When we don’t have them we have to tell them they’re not here.”
It’s a disappointment to the adults as well.
“The community sees us out here,” Hayes said. “We’re out here every day so they know that the students are out here utilizing these materials. They know they’re here for the students so for them to come take it seems kind of heartless.”
What’s harder is trying to help the kids make sense of what happened.
“It’s something you don’t want a child to experience at the age of three and four,” Hayes said.
The school has notified the Shelby County Schools district, which is looking into the incident. There are also security cameras near the playground that are being reviewed.