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10-Part Series on Violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act in New Rochelle Schools

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10-Part Series on Violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act in New Rochelle Schools

December 15, 2014 - 18:32
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ADA Cover FINAL

NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Talk of the Sound recently completed publication of a 10-Part investigative series on violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The investigation was based on a survey of each school building using the ADA Tool Kit and recommended tools including a laser-level and tape measure.

All violations are external to the buildings -- parking areas, sidewalks, and ramps.

Every school had some violations -- signage, striping, ramp cuts or steepness of ramps.

Albert Leonard Middle School had the highest overall grade (A-) with points deducted for Accessible Parking violations although the school was the only school in the District to have required Van-Accessible Parking spaces.

Ward Elementary School and Isaac E. Young Middle School tied for worst (F).

Lowlights of the survey include the newly installed ramp at the New Rochelle High School Planetarium, the emergency exit ramp at Isaac Young, the parking area in front of Ward School, the back parking lot at New Rochelle High School, the disabled parking spot at Jefferson School and -- perhaps the worst of all -- the use of a parking area of sorts, marked off with blue point but used by Director of Special Education Yvette Goorevitch as her "personal" parking space at the high school. She is clearly someone who should know better.

The District declined repeated requests to remove the report before publication but did issue a statement to Bob Marrone of WFAS 1230 AM midway through publication:

The City School District of New Rochelle takes all matters related to student safety and ADA compliance seriously. In addition to making corrections and adjustments on an ongoing basis, we are currently conducting a comprehensive survey of all district properties that will result in a long range district facilities plan. The facilities plan will focus on creating the learning environments needed to prepare students to thrive in the 21st century as well as complying with relevant code and meeting high standards for health and safety.

This statement is false and misleading in several ways as will document in future reports on the District's 5-Year Capital Plan documents and the Annual Visual Inspections going back to the mid-90s. These reports and common sense will show the claim that the District is "making corrections and adjustments on an ongoing basis” to address these ADA violations is simply not supported by these records.

In fact, quite the opposite. There have been relatively new projects such as the Barnard parking lot, the NRHS Planetarium and the parking area in the Davis School circle that were recently built but are not ADA complaint. In the case of the ramp at the NRHS Planetarium, not only is the ramp non-compliant but the work was done as part of a stipulation agreement with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights; the District attested to the OCR that the terms of that agreement were met with regards to the ramp when they were not.

Talk of the Sound has against requested to meet with Diane Massimo, the District's ADA/504 Coordinator. It is my hope to learn more about who is really in charge of ADA compliance, whether there has ever been any inventory done, whether there is any systematic approach to cataloguing ADA violations and checking off items as they are addressed, and so forth.

The reports with a summary of grades follows:

ADA Violations in New Rochelle Schools - Part I: Trinity Elementary School

Overall Grade: C-

Accessible Parking: D
Van-Accessible Parking: F
Curb Ramps: C
Access Ramps: N/A

ADA Violations in New Rochelle Schools - Part II: Jefferson Elementary School

Overall Grade: C-

Accessible Parking: F
Van-Accessible Parking: F
Curb Ramps: A
Access Ramps: N/A

ADA Violations in New Rochelle Schools - Part III: Columbus Elementary School

Overall Grade: C

Accessible Parking: F
Van-Accessible Parking: F
Curb Ramps: A
Access Ramps: N/A

ADA Violations in New Rochelle Schools - Part IV: Webster Elementary School

Overall Grade: C

Accessible Parking: F
Van-Accessible Parking: F
Curb Ramps: A
Access Ramps: Could Not Measure due to Fence.

ADA Violations in New Rochelle Schools - Part V: Ward School

Overall Grade: F

Accessible Parking: F
Van-Accessible Parking: F
Curb Ramps: F
Access Ramps: N/A

ADA Violations in New Rochelle Schools - Part VI: Barnard Childhood Center

Overall Grade: D

Accessible Parking: F
Van-Accessible Parking: F
Curb Ramps: B
Access Ramps: D

ADA Violations in New Rochelle Schools - Part VII: Davis Elementary School

Overall Grade: C

Accessible Parking: B
Van-Accessible Parking: F
Curb Ramps: C
Access Ramps: N/A

ADA Violations in New Rochelle Schools - Part VIII: Isaac E. Young Middle School

Overall Grade: F

Accessible Parking: F
Van-Accessible Parking: F
Curb Ramps: F
Access Ramps: F

ADA Violations in New Rochelle Schools - Part IX: Albert Leonard Middle School

Overall Grade: A-

Accessible Parking: B+
Van-Accessible Parking: A
Curb Ramps: A
Access Ramps: N/A

ADA Violations in New Rochelle Schools - Part X: New Rochelle High School

Overall Grade: C-

Accessible Parking: C
Van-Accessible Parking: F
Curb Ramps: B-
Access Ramps: F