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Student with Down Syndrome fights for diploma

Posted at 10:34 AM, Sep 19, 2015
An Indiana teen with Down Syndrome is fighting for the right to get his diploma. His entire family is doing whatever it takes to get him to the graduation stage, including driving from Fort Wayne to Indianapolis for him to attend class. 
 
Grant Heistand,15, loves basketball, the movie Elf and school. 
 
"I'm pretty good at doing math, education skills. I work on social studies with dad," Heistand said. 
 
Grant wants a diploma. He's worked hard to get mostly passing grades in pre-algebra and other classes. As a freshman at Yorktown High School, he had one special needs class to help with his comprehension.
 
He failed. 
 
His parents said it wasn't for a lack of effort, it was because he wasn't being taught. There were several meetings with school administrators that followed that failing grade. 
 
"We basically butted heads for three solid hours. This was the seventh meeting that we had had this year that was the same kind of a meeting," Sheri Hiestand said. 
 
Grant's parents had underlying suspicions that the school wanted him out for fear his low grades could hurt their four-star rating. Before his sophomore year, the Heistand's reluctantly moved Grant to a special school in Indianapolis, one that supports his goal to earn a diploma.
 
The drive is long.
 
Grant's dad drives from his job in Fort Wayne to drop Grant off in Indianapolis five days a week. While Grant is in school, his dad sleeps on an air mattress in a nearby church. 
 
"I don't think I'm doing anything that a lot of dads wouldn't do, but I feel like I'm forced to do it because of the situation with his education," Nicholas Hiestand said. 
 
Now the family is saving and raising money to pay for legal fees. They want Yorktown Schools to pay for their travel expenses. 
 
RTV6 left phone calls and emails with Yorktown's principal and superintendent. So far, there has been no response.