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New Kent pauses use of classroom tool parents say caused son’s seizures

Posted at 8:22 PM, Oct 14, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-14 20:22:30-04

NEW KENT COUNTY, Va. — A New Kent County mother met with school officials Tuesday to find a solution to an electronic whiteboard in her child’s classroom that she says gives her son seizures.

Promethean” or smart boards — are the latest in classroom technology, in effect a modern-day chalkboard.

"I don't want to medicate my child just so he can go to school everyday," said Holly Miller-Bopp, but she says the board  makes her 12-year-old son Jacob sick.

"It's new, no one's heard of this happening before," said Miller-Bopp.

“He’s been having headaches and seeing dots,” said Miller-Bopp, in an interview last week. “He’s at risk everyday he goes to school by looking at those boards.”

The worried mother said that trips to the eye doctor and pediatrician did not reveal anything abnormal. However, when she took Jacob to a neurologist the mystery was finally solved.

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That doctor said Jacob suffers from Stimulus Evoked Epilepsy, or seizure-related symptoms from the light and vibrations from the Promethean boards.

"I understand with keeping up with technology," Miller-Bopp said. "But is it worth it?"

Holly and her husband met with New Kent school officials on Tuesday to come up with a solution.

She said that after a two-hour discussion, they did.

"They've been instructed to not use the boards at all until they get this plan into place," said Miller-Bopp.

The new plan is for Jacob to have a laptop or some other type of monitor to follow along in class.  Until then, Jacob's teachers will use the old projectors in the classroom.

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He's not so fond of having to be the oddball.

"I'm not sitting beside any of my friends or anything; I'm sitting in like a corner," he said.

As for his mom, she's satisfied with the outcome of this situation and is glad she spoke up.

"The more that's out there, the more we can find out what those boards are actually doing to our children,"she said. "I think that they should come with some sort of warning."

She also said she's received a number of comments on Facebook from parents in New Kent, Henrico, Richmond and James City county who said their children have experienced the same type of symptoms.

No other school systems have received any complaints.

Dr. Lawrence Morton, a child neurologist at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, said that there is no connection between smart boards and seizures “in non-predisposed population.”

If your child complains of headaches after school, Morton offered this warning.

“It may not be every time they see it within seconds. But rather what is the duration of the exposure because then it can just be that their usual system is working in a different way — and it can be a fatigue factor,” Morton said.

School leaders in Richmond, Henrico and Chesterfield said the smart boards have been in place for several years. The cost ranges from $1,200 to $3,800 per board.