LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Was a high school water boy sidelined because of his disability or... to protect his safety?
The post-game victory-line brings together players, cheerleaders, and student trainers win or lose.
"They always have a traditional handshake afterwards and they do the school song," said Larry Blancet, Keith's step-dad.
This week, one familiar face was missing... water boy Keith Hampton.
"I'm a lion's fan," said Hampton.
Keith has Fragile X Syndrome, a hereditary mental retardation. It's something that's never slowed down his love of Lions football.
But Friday night, his mom noticed him standing to the side during the victory line. Cheryl Blancet headed to the field to find out what happened, but no one would explain why the student trainer coordinator had apparently asked Keith to sit this one out.
"We have to speak for him. He can't speak for himself," said Cheryl Blancet.
Cheryl, a secretary at the school, says when she was asking around, her boss, Principal Barbara Shaw approached her, saying "you're through."
Monday morning, Cheryl said she was fired.
KTRE asked to speak with the Livingston I.S.D. superintendent. Instead, their communications director contacted us with a statement saying in essence they were protecting Keith by pulling him from that victory line.
The school district refused to comment on the termination, citing personnel issues.
Cheryl's husband, Larry Blancet, is stunned by the district's response. He describes his step-son Keith as a gentle giant.
"If they're worried about people getting hurt they shouldn't have a football game," said Larry Blancet.
The Blancets are filing grievances with the district for what they say is discriminatory treatment of their son.
"He should be allowed to shake hands like everybody else does," said Larry.
Next week, they just hope Keith still has a spot as a water boy... and can do the one thing he loves... cheering on the Livingston Lions.
According to Cheryl, she was told the firing stemmed from a complaint that she was rude to someone. She says she was fired for trying to protect her special needs son.
No word on if Keith will be able to participate in this weeks game against Nederland.