GROUP LETTER: ADA Compliance Should be Prioritized in Greenwich Schools Capital Plan

Submitted by* See list below

At the Board of Education’s Annual Budget Meeting, a re-organized capital plan was proposed by two BOE members. It prioritizes full ADA compliance throughout the GPS system, and puts issues like health and safety at the forefront of a holistic view of our school system’s capital needs. We the undersigned, find this approach to be practical, refreshing and absolutely
necessary.

The Americans With Disabilities Act became law in 1990. How can it be that 30 years later our public school system, a source of such pride in our community, is still in non-compliance with this most basic of laws? Greenwich is better than that, and our students, their families and our
great teachers deserve better.

We have heard the stories of parents in our GPS whose children are directly impacted by the lack of ADA compliance in our schools. We recall a story about a principal at one of our elementary schools who had knee surgery. For weeks, the principal was unable to visit any of the classrooms on the second floor of the school because there is no elevator, and the stairs
were out of the question.

In a November Board of Education meeting a frustrated mother pleaded her case for her son who is about to enter Western Middle School. He uses a wheelchair and certain classes at his new middle school will require him to exit and re-enter the building from a different point of access. We are better than this.

There are many other stories like these. We must ask ourselves as a community if we find this acceptable. Do we? We, the undersigned certainly do not. We agree wholeheartedly with ADA remediation, which puts priorities in the right order and deals head on with the problems that
non-ADA compliance poses for our community. This should be included in the current capital plan. This is about equity and inclusion. Every student, teacher and family member should have easy access to enter and exit all our public schools. It is our job to move our elected officials to get that done as soon as possible.

The argument for prioritizing these needs is moral, ethical and intelligent. Non-ADA compliance puts our community at perpetual risk for major lawsuits. Winning a lawsuit is a costly exercise, while losing one can be catastrophic to a municipality on many levels. It is incredible that we
have been able to avoid such litigation. In this regard, we are on borrowed time. This is another reason that non-ADA compliance is fiscally and morally irresponsible, and a glaring example of how it affects us all.

We, the undersigned ask that our community make its voice heard and help put a spotlight on this issue. Our Board of Education and Superintendent need to hear these voices. We have been Non-ADA compliant for 30 years. Let that sink in for a moment. 30 years. It is unacceptable. It is wrong. The time to change it is now.

This letter is signed by the following people:

Abbe Large; RTM Education Committee Member, Greenwich resident and taxpayer
Greg Large; Greenwich resident and taxpayer
Alan Gunzberg; Chairman First Selectman Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities
Stephanie Cowie; Vice Chair First Selectman Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities
Steven Rubin; RTM Education Committee Member, Greenwich resident and taxpayer
Paula Mickley; RTM Education Committee Member, Greenwich resident and taxpayer
Betsey Frumin; RTM Member, Greenwich resident and taxpayer
Jane Weiseneck; RTM Member, Greenwich Resident and Taxpayer
Ferdinando Schiro; RTM Member, Greenwich teacher, resident and taxpayer
Alex Popp; RTM Member, Greenwich teacher, resident and taxpayer
John Blankley; Former BET Member, Greenwich resident and taxpayer
Lauren Marcin; Greenwich Special Education teacher
Rebecca Comizio; School Psychologist, Greenwich resident and taxpayer
Megan Cimera; NYC Special Education teacher, Greenwich resident and taxpayer
Liz Tommasino; GPS Parent/resident and taxpayer
Roy Skinner; Greenwich resident and taxpayer
Nerlyn Pierson; GPS Parent/resident and taxpayer
Rosemary Thibeault; GPS parent/resident and taxpayer
Ann-Marie Bulis; GPS parent, resident and taxpayer