By Justin Schmidt, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
OAK GROVE, MO (KCTV) -
Update: The Oak Grove School Board approved a hardship for Anthony Wixeldofer for his junior year. He will return to class on Wednesday.
The hardship is only good for this school year.
Anthony Wixeldofer is sitting at home. The 16-year-old is not in class at Oak Grove High School because of guardianship issues.
He and his aunt, Victoria Klink, who Anthony lives with are baffled by the situation.
"I'd rather be in school and stay here," he said. "My aunt apparently isn't my true guardian even though she has temporary guardianship."
Klink is frustrated and contacted KCTV5 about her nephew's plight.
Anthony's mother is not in the picture. He lived with his father and went to school in Boonville. However, his legal guardians are Klink's parents who live in Florida and Texas. Due to difficulties with his father, he moved in with his aunt, hoping for a fresh start.
Klink's parents have given her a signed and notarized agreement that gives her temporary guardianship of Anthony, which allows her to make medical and educational decisions on his behalf.
The state of Missouri recommends that districts enrolling students who don't live with their parents have paperwork showing they are living with a court-appointed legal guardian.
The Oak Grove School District requires it, Superintendent Freddie Doherty said.
"The way economics are now, a hardship or homeless situation is not uncommon," Doherty said. "If you're not with your parents, then you'll need to show us some paperwork that proves to us you are responsible for the child you have."
Klink said she cannot financially afford to deal with out-of-state guardians and miss the time from work to go to court. She said out-of-district tuition would cost her $8,000. She notes that her nephew will turn 17 years old on Nov. 13, which is when he could pursue becoming legally emancipated.
"I can't pay tuition. I'm a working mom with two kids of my own. I can't afford to go to court and pay hundreds of dollars to get court-ordered custody of him when he turns 17 right around the corner. I just find it crazy," she said. "It's wasted money that I don't have in the right place."
Anthony enrolled in August and the district gave Klink until the end of the first quarter to provide the necessary paperwork. When the quarter ended on Oct. 11, his time was up and he is at home building bikes with a friend and looking for a job.
He said he doesn't want to return to a stressful and difficult situation with his father in Boonville.
"I need my education," he said.
Klink contacted KCTV5 about her nephew's plight. She said the paperwork is enough for the courts and doctors.
"If it works for the courts, why not the school? I can take him in and get medical records. I'm totally lost on the whole thing," she said.
She said she has made her case numerous times to local and state education officials, but her pleas have fallen on deaf ears. She said the state encouraged Oak Grove to allow Anthony to attend class, but they cannot force the district to do so.
She hopes public attention will change minds.
"Our only option right now is to drop out. We are just kind of hanging in the loop," she said. "He's sitting at home wanting to go to school. He wants an education. He knows it's important. Right now, we are just hoping to get him back in school. . . I don't know what is in the future. I really didn't think it would come to this to get an education."
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