Norristown Patch reported . Three students – Imer Vazquez, Francesco Fernandez and Tony Zevallos – were invited to compete in the 2012 Vex Robotics World Middle School Competition in Anaheim next month. The budding engineers would be competing against middle schoolers from across the globe, designing functional robots and putting them through their paces.
Now that good news has turned sour and parents and supporters of the kids are blaming the Norristown Area School District. According to a blog post by Kelly Whalen, a parent in the Downigntown School District who is involved in that area's robotics teams, the Norristown Area School Board on Monday denied the kids permission to travel to the competition. What's worse, they allegedly haven't given parents a reason why they're denying the request.
The team is sponsored by the school district and without their permission, can't attend the competition. Financial concerns are apparently not involved, as the team has reportedly found commitments for the over $7000 they need for travel and robot shipping expenses.
Scott Tarlo, a mentor for the Downingtown Area Robotics Team, has competed against the Norristown students and can't believe the school district would not honor these talented kids with their support.
"The school board never provided a reason, and the kids are shattered by it," said Tarlo. "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity for them... It's a pity that they're not responding and that they just shut them down without open dialogue."
Parents and supporters have reportedly inundated the school board with calls and emails and several Facebook petitions have been circulated to raise awareness of the issue. Calls by Norristown Patch have not been returned and no school district employees have been available to comment.
The students have until Friday to get permission from the board to secure their spot in the competition in April.
See the video above of the Eisenhower Robotics Team receiving their Excellence Award at a recent robotics competition and securing the students their spot in the competion. You can read more about the team's accomplishments in this ABC Action News story.