Joseph Tringali: Accessibility complaints about Amherst schools not new revelations

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Published: 2/21/2019 10:48:44 AM

The Gazette’s article about the Amherst schools lacking accessibility comes as no surprise to Stavros or to the Amherst Disability Access Advisory Committee (DAAC).

Both Stavros and the DAAC have received complaints about the schools’ bathrooms and playgrounds. So this news should come as no surprise to the school department. Stavros and the DAAC have received complaints about Fort River curb cuts, loading and drop-off areas, and bathrooms as far back as 2014. We’ve also received complaints regarding the Crocker School playground as well as the middle school’s auditorium.

All of these complaints could have been addressed had Amherst included the school systems in their 2006 ADA evaluation and transition plan that was conducted in 2005. Had the school systems been included, these violations would’ve been noticed and included in the town’s transition plan.

The lack of accessibility in the Amherst schools is not grandfathered into the ADA. Evaluation and transition plans are meant to establish living and breathing documents indicating whether or not the schools’ programs when viewed in their entirety are accessible to people with disabilities. If there are not, buildings have to be renovated.

The evaluation process will dictate what needs to be included in the transition plan. The transition plan will indicate the accessibility problems, priorities, corrective actions, timelines and people responsible to enforce the access shortcomings.

Obviously, that did not happen. If the school systems had included in 2006 ADA evaluation and transition plan the Amherst School Committee would have had ample opportunity to review these plans, prioritize them, and include the costs of the renovations in their budgets. And more importantly reviewed the plan annually until the deficiencies were corrected. Unfortunately this is old news.

Joseph Tringali
Director of Services/Stavros Member of the Amherst Disability Access Advisory Committee

 




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