Local Student Battles Epilepsy

A Hartford couple claims their son, who has epilepsy, is not being properly monitored by school personnel. Parents believe that a few students are intentionally trying to cause him to have life threatening seizures.

Joseph Coker is a senior at Geneva County High School. He has a learning disability and suffers from epilepsy.

At 20-years-old, Joseph says he's determined to graduate this year.

His mother, Dorothy Coker, says Joseph can have a seizure if a student sprays body scent, cologne, or perfume near him. "My son doesn't have the opportunity to an education in a safe environment,” she said. “And if there is a health problem, it is not a safe environment."

In the event of a seizure, the school has created a health network. It includes his younger sister, Shelinah, who is an eleventh-grader at Geneva County High. "Actually, it's pretty scary,” she says. “You don't know if he's going to come through it. He’s shaking real bad, he turns red. His heart is racing."

"By using body spray, cologne, hand lotion, they put it on to see if I have a seizure,” Joseph says of his peers. “And if I do, they sit and watch and laugh."

When contacted by phone, Geneva County School Superintendent David Snell took exception with the parent's contention, that everything was being done to help Joseph.

Snell says that Joseph’s teachers have been advised of his medical condition, and they've been instructed to tell fellow students not to apply lotion, or body spray in the classroom.

Snell says personnel will continue to do everything possible to provide a healthy environment for all its students.

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