Family seeks education opportunities in Hays
By JUDY SHERARD
Before she was 3 years old, Mikayle Wretling had undergone 14 brain surgeries.
Now 14, Mikayle's surgery count is up to 23, with the most recent one July 1, said Mark Wretling, her father.
A Felten Middle School graduate, she will be a Hays High School freshman when school starts.
The family moved to Hays from Abilene last year.
"We wanted her to be in a school where she could learn life skills," Wretling said.
Mark Hauptman, Hays USD 489 assistant superintendent, said he couldn't comment on any student, but said life skills are an important part of the special education program.
"Life skills are built into several of the classes," he said.
Like other areas of the school budget, special education has had cutbacks.
Special education staff has been cut 15 percent while the special education population is rising 3 percent to 4 percent per year, Hauptman said.
"We have more kids with more needs and less staff," he said. "We're not doing a bad job, just not as well as we were."
However, with three special education classrooms at HHS, students receive a warm welcome.
"We have a history of inclusion," Hauptman said.
Wretling said he and his wife, Sandy, attended Fort Hays State University, and that also influenced their decision.
"We always talked about coming back if we could," he said.
Though their two grown daughters live in the Kansas City area, they have family and friends in the area.
Mikayle has been diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a congenital condition involving the abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the cerebral ventricles on the brain, as well as Chiari malformation, cerebral palsy, vision impairment, a seizure disorder and other neurological problems, Wretling said.
Blind in her left eye, she recently received her first mobility assistance service dog, Kirby. Kirby also watches for seizures.
In addition to extensive medical expenses, Mikayle needs an electric wheelchair, Wretling said.
Anyone wishing to help can contact the family at (785) 280-3359 or P.O. Box 519, Hays, KS 67601.