Good morning, ADA Coordinator.
My name is (parent name). I am a parent with a child with an orthopedic impairment at Johnson Elementary. You and I met at the District community advisory committee meeting in December when I addressed the inaccessibility at Johnson. The school had just changed the entrance into the school, which limited people with disabilities. I addressed the urgency of the problem that was an accessibility and safety issue for my child. It was simply two rounded door knobs that needed to be replaced with lever door handles. Thankfully, the problem was resolved expediently after that meeting and the community was very appreciative of the universally designed doorhandles.
I’m writing you to address another accessibility issue at Johnson Elementary. Though it has been several years, Johnson still has not benefited from state bond money (Propositions A, BB and C) to be ADA accessible. This includes the classroom bungalows. At this time, only 2 of the 4th grade classrooms have an ADA ramp and lever door handle. I’m unsure if the pressure on the doors is less than 5 PSI. All of the 5th grade classrooms have wooden steps and rounded door handles. The resource room (classroom for the case managers/resource teachers) and PTA office both also have wooden steps and rounded door handles. In short, I’m trying to help get our school up to code with ADA laws and regulations.
Of course, this will help my son, for his remaining years at Johnson. He is currently in 3rd grade. However, after discussing the concern at the IEP meeting this past December and follow-up emails to the principal, there has been no response from the school administration. The issue at hand is time. We have under 7 months to have the ramps in place to make those bungalows accessible before the next school year. That is a very short amount of time considering the steps to get it through the district and state approval process. Though he can maneuver the stairs because he does not have a wheelchair, it is still unfair to consider a child with dwarfism should just “manage” his classroom accessibility and safety.
The bungalow steps are 6″ in height, which is just one inch shorter than the length of his calf. Physically, it is a concern for a child with dwarfism to have to maneuver the steps dozens of times each day and get to safety safely in the event of an emergency. Though the rise and run is shorter with steps versus installing an ADA ramp, the effort in which a 37″ tall child with a 12″ inseam steps is much greater than his gait to walk down an accessible ramp. In addition, he will need assistance to open the rounded door handles and heavy doors to access the classrooms. At this time, the resource room is also not accessible. Consequently, his specialized academic instruction has been modified to in-class services. Though there is a future plan to remove those bungalows and replace them with a new building, it does not meet the current accessibility problem.
As a parent with a disability, I come to the table with great concern that accessibility has fallen by the wayside at Johnson Elementary for dozens of years. It cannot just be considered “manageable” any longer. No child should not have to be limited to choosing where he/she attends class or receives services because the building is not accessible. The ADA was enacted in 1990, and it is simply shocking to me that Johnson has not come up to code with accessibility. Whereas neighboring schools have been upgraded, Johnson Elementary has been left to “just manage”. It’s not fair or acceptable.
Please consider this a priority. I hope to hear from you soon since time is very limited. Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.