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Are The Nation’s Schools Following The ADA?

Posted by by Michelle Diament on

A group of federal lawmakers is requesting an investigation into accessibility at the nation's schools. (Don Kelsen/Los Angeles Times/TNS)A group of federal lawmakers is requesting an investigation into accessibility at the nation's schools.

Members of Congress are asking for a federal investigation into whether schools across the country are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Nearly thirty years after passage of the landmark disability rights law, three lawmakers are asking the Government Accountability Office to find out if the nation’s schools are as accessible as they should be.

“Students with disabilities, from New York City to coastal Virginia and all across the country, are entitled to a ‘free, appropriate public education’ under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. However, localities continue to undermine the law by limiting the number of schools students with disabilities can physically access through negligence and lackluster enforcement of the ADA,” wrote U.S. Reps. José E. Serrano, D-N.Y., Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Bobby Scott, D-Va., in a letter to GAO.

The congressmen cited a 2015 report from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York which found that nearly 83 percent of New York City elementary schools were not “fully accessible.”

“If ADA compliance rates are so poor within one of the country’s wealthiest cities, one can only imagine just how dire the situation may be in other states and school districts that are not so fortunate,” the lawmakers wrote.

The letter asks Eugene L. Dodaro, who heads the GAO, to issue a report including an estimate of how many k-12 schools are ADA compliant and assess whether states and school districts have appropriate data on the issue.

In addition, the lawmakers said they want GAO to determine if school districts have plans in place to address access barriers and identify steps that the federal government can take to ensure full ADA compliance at schools.

Photo credit: Don Kelsen/Los Angeles Times/TNS

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