A small Durham school has a large impact - WRBL

A small Durham school has a large impact

Posted: Updated:
The Sydnor family said they are together today because of the Wright School. The Sydnor family said they are together today because of the Wright School.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

A school on the chopping block with the current Senate budget has changed the lives of one Raleigh family.

The Sydnor family is enjoying time together these days. A sight they didn't always think would be possible. The oldest Sydnor son, 12-year-old Burton, was diagnosed as being bipolar with severe learning disabilities.

Burton would at times become physically violent. These violent outbursts would often target Burton's younger brother, Sheppard. Eventually, Sheppard was sent to live with his grandparents.

"Two years ago, I wasn't living with my family because he had behavior problems," said Sheppard Sydnor.

Burton Sydnor's parents, Richard and Elizabeth, struggled and searched for an answer for years. "I had to physically restrain him daily. Then it would be fine, just like that," Elizabeth Sydnor said.

"We took him to every physician possible to figure out what was going on. And the Wright School found it," Elizabeth Sydnor said.

The Wright School is a weekday boarding school in Durham that will be forced to close if the Senate's proposed budget is passed.

This facility has been treating children with mental illnesses from various economic and ethnic backgrounds for 50 years.

The typical Wright School student has had three psychiatric diagnoses and been hospitalized twice in the year before coming to the school. 

Children are referred to the school after communities determine that the child's needs cannot be met in his or her community. The school aims to build capacity and resources in children and their families so they can successfully return home to their communities.

A 2006 study of the school's effectiveness by Duke University researchers determined that the school is an effective program for serving the state's most difficult-to-treat 6 to 12 year olds.

"They provide a service that you can't get in the private sector at any price," Richard Sydnor said.

Burton Sydnor stayed at the Wright School for eight months. His parents said the difference was night and day.

"Well, I think to tell you the truth, some of the kids there were, if they didn't go there (Wright School) I think could've gone to prisons, you know? I really do," Burton Sydnor said.

Gov. Pat McCrory's proposed budget funds the school. But members of the Senate do not share McCrory's stance on funding the school.

"In these difficult circumstances, we had to focus on targeting resources to programs with a statewide impact," Senator Ralph Hise said. "Rather than using significant tax dollars to support a program that operates at a cost of nearly $113,000 per bed while serving only a tiny fraction of our state's population."

The Sydnor's disagree. They say that helping one child is helping schools and communities. That one child will no longer hijack a class at school with his or her behavior, the Sydnors said.

"It is not just those kids. Those kids have families, schools, and their in classrooms with other kids who interact with them. It's the community at large. So it affects all of us so dramatically," Elizabeth Sydnor said.

Burton Sydnor wrote to state Legislators:

"Dear Legislatures,

My name is Richard Burton Sydnor Iv and I went to the wright school in October of 2011. I went because of aggressive behavior to the point where my brother could not live at home. I understand there is talk about closing wright school due to funding. If I did not go there would be a chance where I would be still living like that. 

When I was there I learned about myself and I found myself. The last months of my days at wright school were bittersweet. In the summer of 2012 I graduated from wright school. 

If you do close it would be bad for all the kids who go there and I guarantee you not one thing besides god can change those kids nearly as much as wright school.

Sincerely,

Richard Burton Sydnor age 12"

Charlotte Huffman

An award-winning journalist with an investigative edge, Charlotte has driven legislative change with reports on workplace safety concerns and contaminated groundwater. Contact our Investigative Team anytime HERE. More>>

  • Wake CountyMore>>

  • Man shot at Raleigh Internet sweepstakes parlor

    Man shot at Raleigh Internet sweepstakes parlor

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 6:38 AM EDT2014-04-23 10:38:43 GMT

    Raleigh police are investigating an early morning shooting.

    Raleigh police are investigating an early morning shooting.A man was shot at an Internet sweepstakes parlor in the 1900 block of Capital Boulevard.Crews took the victim to the hospital and have not released the identity of the victim. Call police if you have any information.
  • Price to attend celebration of RDU Terminal 1

    Price to attend celebration of RDU Terminal 1

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 5:23 AM EDT2014-04-23 09:23:54 GMT
    U.S. Rep. David Price is scheduled to attend a formal ceremony mark the reopening of the refurbished Terminal 1 at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
    U.S. Rep. David Price is scheduled to attend a formal ceremony mark the reopening of the refurbished Terminal 1 at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
  • Dr. Campbell: New treatments for Migraine headache

    Dr. Campbell: New treatments for Migraine headache

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 5:00 AM EDT2014-04-23 09:00:23 GMT

    The FDA has just approved a new device to prevent migraine headaches. This is the first device of its kind and may revolutionize the way we treat headaches.

    The FDA has just approved a new device to prevent migraine headaches. This is the first device of its kind and may revolutionize the way we treat headaches.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Mom bites off dog's ear to save daughter during attack

    Mom bites off dog's ear to save daughter during attack

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 2:49 PM EDT2014-04-22 18:49:19 GMT
    Image from CNN/KHOU-TVImage from CNN/KHOU-TV
    In a backyard in Alvin, swings a very lucky girl. Her name is Mackenzi Plass, or Kenzi for short, and she survived a dog attack and has undergone several surgeries."She'll be two and a half in May," said her very proud mother Chelsi Camp. "She's doing great. You wouldn't know it if you couldn't see."Mackenzi has scars on her face after the ordeal just weeks ago that put her mother's animal instincts to the test."You do whatever you can," said Camp. "I don't have physical strength at my side."...
    In a backyard in Alvin, swings a very lucky girl. Her name is Mackenzi Plass, or Kenzi for short, and she survived a dog attack and has undergone several surgeries."She'll be two and a half in May," said her very proud mother Chelsi Camp. "She's doing great. You wouldn't know it if you couldn't see."Mackenzi has scars on her face after the ordeal just weeks ago that put her mother's animal instincts to the test."You do whatever you can," said Camp. "I don't have physical strength at my side."...
  • Indictment: Prosecutor was target of Wake Forest kidnapping

    Indictment: Prosecutor was target of Wake Forest kidnapping

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 6:57 PM EDT2014-04-22 22:57:33 GMT
    The U.S. Department of Justice said Kevin Melton has been charged with conspiring to kidnap in relation to the abduction of Frank Janssen from his Wake Forest homeThe U.S. Department of Justice said Kevin Melton has been charged with conspiring to kidnap in relation to the abduction of Frank Janssen from his Wake Forest home
    Nine people have been indicted in connection with the kidnapping of a Wake Forest man whose daughter prosecuted a high-ranking member of the Bloods street gang.
    Nine people have been indicted in connection with the kidnapping of a Wake Forest man whose daughter prosecuted a high-ranking member of the Bloods street gang.
  • High school senior kicked out of prom for wearing pants

    High school senior kicked out of prom for wearing pants

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 12:27 PM EDT2014-04-22 16:27:58 GMT
    According to a senior at Cherryville High School, a pair of her red skinny jeans got her kicked out of her Senior Prom and has started a bit of a controversy at the school since. "In a way it's kind of
    According to a senior at Cherryville High School, a pair of her red skinny jeans got her kicked out of her Senior Prom and has started a bit of a controversy at the school since.
Powered by WorldNow

1350 13th Avenue
Columbus, GA 31901

Telephone: 706.323.3333
Fax: 706.327.6655
Email: news@wrbl.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.