Wayland to make school more accessible after federal investigation

WAYLAND — Wayland Public Schools has agreed to make infrastructure improvements to an elementary school to address allegations that the district discriminated against people with disabilities by operating a school that does not is not accessible.

In November, the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation to look into the allegations, which were filed by a parent. The complaint highlighted the main front entrance, the stair lift, the garden in the center of the building, the peripheral sidewalks, the asphalt surface used during recess and the playground next to the field behind the school.

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Superintendent of Schools Omar Easy did not respond to a public records request requesting documents related to the investigation or to a message seeking comment. Easy is the school district’s records access officer, according to the city’s website.

The Daily News finally secured the investigation’s findings and agreement after filing a Freedom of Information Act request with the Civil Rights Office. The name of the complainant and that of the elementary school are removed from the files for reasons of confidentiality.

What did the investigators find?

During the investigation, the Office of Civil Rights reviewed the district’s and plaintiff’s records; interviewed district staff and the complainant; and conducted a site visit on 28 March.

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Before the Civil Rights Office completes its investigation, school officials said they want to resolve the complaint through a series of agreed-upon actions. The OCR found a lack of evidence to support the claims regarding the garden and the asphalt surface and that the allegations regarding the stairlift had already been resolved.

Additionally, the allegation regarding the front main entrance had been partially resolved. The outstanding issues will be resolved once the district takes a series of actions outlined in a resolution agreement, signed on April 29.

Terms of the Resolution Agreement

Following the agreement, the district will make changes to the school’s designated accessible entrance, review the route from the main entrance to the asphalt and playground and modify it as needed, and install a route accessible to and into the gaga (a variation of dodgeball pit).

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An additional accessible parking space will be placed at the school, meaning there will be three accessible spaces in all. A location will be designated as accessible to vans.

The district will also review and revise its policies and procedures to ensure interested parties can obtain up-to-date information about the existence and location of accessible programs. At least one employee will be designated to respond to accessibility requests and questions.

Staff will be updated with communication on district policies and procedures for responding to accessibility complaints. It will include a contact person to whom staff can direct people with questions or inquiries regarding concerns.

To ensure compliance with the agreement, the district will submit certain documents to the OCR.

Previous pacts concerning disability

Last fall, the city reached a settlement with a couple to make the playground at Happy Hollow Elementary School more accessible to children in wheelchairs.

This issue arose in early August, when a local couple filed a complaint with the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, claiming that renovations to the K-5 school playground included wood chips. wood like surface. This means that children in wheelchairs cannot move around the playground as freely as others.

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The city agreed to remove the wood chips as the surface and use a cast-in-place surface throughout the playing field.

In turn, the plaintiffs agreed to withdraw their lawsuit filed with the state and release the city from any claim or action arising from the city’s plan to use a poured-in-place surface.

Zane Razzaq writes about education. Contact her at 508-626-3919 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @zanerazz.

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