Fenton updates facilities district-wide to better accommodate disabled persons following OCR compliance review

Ellie Vasbinder, Assistant Print Editor in Chief

The Americans With Disabilities Act is America’s first extensive civil rights law addressing the rights and necessities of people with disabilities. Since 1990, the law has prohibited any discrimination and assured equal opportunities for anyone not able-bodied.

According to The Americans With Disabilities Act Title III, “places of public accommodation cannot discriminate against individuals with disabilities. Examples of public accommodations include privately-owned, leased or operated facilities like hotels, restaurants, retail merchants, doctor’s offices, golf courses, private schools, day care centers, health clubs, sports stadiums, movie theaters, and so on. This title sets the minimum standards for accessibility for alterations and new construction of facilities. It also requires public accommodations to remove barriers in existing buildings where it is easy to do so without much difficulty or expense”

Last October, FHS was inspected by the Federal Office For Civil Rights for their decennial compliance review. They inspected everything an everyday citizen would use that makes our building accessible, making certain every person who enters the school can and will be able to use appliances without trouble.

“Last year, the OCR inspected just about everything that makes our building handicap accessible,” Principal Mark Suchowski said. “They took into consideration how many handicap parking spaces we have in each of our parking lots, the height of the paper towel dispensers and the air hand dryers in the bathroom. They also looked at the barriers of the school when you step into a bathroom or room, seeing if they have a barrier to separate one stall from another. Even when walking down our hallways, they made sure that if someone was blind and using a cane that they wouldn’t bump into anything that sticks out. ”

Fenton has until December to fix anything not meeting the criteria of the review. Changes demanded by the OCR following their review include the bathroom stalls and how many handicap spaces are in the parking lots. The most minuscule things many often glance right over could often make a difference for those with the incapacity to use everyday appliances.

“I think it’s important that everyone feels comfortable and confident in our schools, whether you are a student or a parent or a member of the public to come in,” Suchowski said. “Because this is a public building and public taxes help pay for it, people get their money’s worth. You shouldn’t only be a building accessible because you are able-bodied.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act guarantees equal opportunity for all individuals in any public setting, regardless of physical capabilities. While this is only the beginning, thee district will continue making any necessary upgrades to ensure that every person has fair and easy access to facilities at FHS.