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U.S. Attorney: Most NYC Elementary Schools Violate ADA

The office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara releases a troubling report about the compliance of New York City public elementary schools with the Americans with Disabilities Act. (Simon Gray/freeimages.com)
The office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara releases a troubling report about the compliance of New York City public elementary schools with the Americans with Disabilities Act. (Simon Gray/freeimages.com)
December 24, 2015

NEW YORK - A new report finds a majority of New York City public elementary schools are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A two-year investigation conducted by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's office, finds 83 percent of the city's public elementary schools are not "fully accessible" to children with disabilities and six school districts don't have one school that is fully accessible.

Susan Dooha, executive director of the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York, says inaccessible school don't just impact students with physical disabilities.

"It is also students who are deaf or have limited hearing, students who are blind or have limited vision," says Dooha. "It is students with mental or intellectual disabilities who are too often being segregated. It is students with learning disabilities."

Dooha says she hopes Bharara's office also investigates whether New York City middle and high schools are in compliance with the American with Disabilities Act. She believes similar findings may be found if schools in other parts of the state are investigated.

"In other ares of the state, it may be that schools are more likely to be on one floor in some areas and to have been built more recently," says Dooha. "However, that is no reason that there shouldn't be an examination by the New York State Department of Education."

The report comes three months after Dooha met with Bharara, the U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, to share her organization's own research about the issue. The city's Education Department says it is reviewing the letter and remains "committed to increasing the accessibility" of city schools.

Bharara sent a 14-page letter to the city detailing the findings and giving it 30 days to respond. The report comes 25 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed.

Nia Hamm, Public News Service - NY