DOJ, Dunlap school district reach agreement to provide fully accessible elementary school playground
DUNLAP (25 NEWS) - The Department of Justice has reached a settlement pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act with Dunlap #323 ensuring that the playground at Banner Elementary School is accessible to all children, including children with disabilities.
A DOJ release says the settlement agreement resolves an ADA complaint filed by parents of a child with a disability at Banner Elementary.
The complaint alleges that a child with a disability was routinely unable to access the school’s existing playground to play with peers and had to play alone, outside of the play area and separate from peers without disabilities.
The DOJ says this complaint prompted an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ.
Title II of the ADA prohibits places of public accommodation, including school districts, from discriminating against individuals with disabilities and requires them to remove architectural barriers to access. The ADA requires a school’s outdoor playgrounds to be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.
Under the settlement agreement, the school district has agreed to create a new outdoor playground by integrating new, accessible equipment into the existing area, effectively creating a single outdoor playground with accessible equipment and surfaces. As part of the agreement, the district will also remove all existing barriers to access, including railroad ties and other barriers, as well as remove and replace all existing pea gravel and mulch with ADA-compliant surfaces.
Without admitting violating the ADA, the district also agreed to a monetary payment to the parents fully resolving the matter.
“Children and other individuals with disabilities are entitled to full access to our community, including a school’s playground,” said Douglas J. Quivey, Acting United States Attorney for the Central District of Illinois. “This settlement demonstrates the Dunlap Community School District’s commitment to providing equal access to all students it serves. We appreciate both the parents and the School District’s cooperation in resolving this matter and their dedication to ensuring all students enjoy full access. I encourage all school districts in Central Illinois to review their facilities to make sure they are accessible and fully usable by all.”
Copyright 2021 WEEK. All rights reserved.