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Blind CU Student Loses State Transportation Funds

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LAWTON Okla_ A Lawton woman said she's supposed to walk Cameron University's graduation stage in May, but the State of Oklahoma's Rehabilitative and Visual Services Department is making it difficult.

Disa Muse is legally blind. So, for the past year and a half, the agency has provided her transportation to and from school. Last November though, officials told her they had reviewed her situation and decided she no longer qualified for that. Starting February 1st, she'd need to find her own way.

Muse said the agency made a mistake when they calculated the amount of money she already receives in financial aid, compared with her actual costs for this semester.

"I was devastated," Muse said. "I couldn't think. I couldn't study. I couldn't sleep."

In the email, DRS stated on the money Muse receives from a Pell grant and an Oklahoma tuition aid grant, as well as their allowance for travel costs, she is left with an excess of about $100. So, it cannot assist in any other costs for training this semester. Muse said that's not true.

"That's absolutely wrong," Muse said. "There is no surplus of money. There's not even enough to buy my books, and they're supposed to take over the transportation and book costs after financial aid. It's exhausting, because they're not doing that at this time."

She said the little money she receives from her disability check, which is separate from her education money, goes towards taking care for her four young daughters.

"There's been a choice of whether I'll pay transportation or provide food," Muse said. "There's been a choice of whether I go to school that day or provide a need that my teenager had. For a while, I chose transportation. Then I got help with food. I keep remembering that promise that I am not suppose to pay for transportation out of my pocket."

She said those words came the first time the services attempted to cut transportation.

Muse said last semester, officials from the State of Oklahoma Rehabilitative and Visual Services contacted her, telling her they were no longer going to provide her transportation to school. She said after talking with officials, she was able to get them not to do that.

"The executive said to me on the phone, ‘We will pay for transportation when they found out that's the only cost they have,'" Muse said. "They're not paying anything else. That's all I asked for."

So, they continued transportation service. Muse said she has reached out that same executive this time around, but has not received a reply yet on getting them to continue to abide by the contract.

"I am weeks away from my dream," Muse said, "And I'm not going to fulfill that dream if I can't get there."

The Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services spoke to 7News by phone and said the DRS is going to investigate the situation.

 

 

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