45 Years of Impact Spotlight
Fighting for Accessible Schools
DRP’s commitment to removing accessibility barriers extends to students with disabilities and their ability to equally access their public schools, including school playgrounds and stadiums.
In 1995, DRP filed Lakits v. East Penn School District in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of a student with Spina Bifida to challenge the school district’s failure to make its high school stadium accessible to individuals with mobility disabilities, which precluded our client from attending the school-related recreational events held at the stadium. DRP alleged violations of the ADA and, as a result of the lawsuit, the school agreed to make the modifications necessary to make the stadium accessible.
In 2017, DRP filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against the Upper Dublin School District on behalf of S.F., a then fourth grade student with cerebral palsy who uses a wheelchair. The lawsuit alleged that the District violated Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act by denying S.F. equal access to their middle school program due to physical accessibility barriers. The Court rendered a decision that was favorable to S.F. when it denied the District’s Motion to Dismiss the Complaint. The case resolved through a consent decree in which the District agreed to ensure that it’s middle school and associated grounds fully complied with the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design and would be accessible to and usable by S.F. by the time he was slated to begin middle school.
In 2021, DRP filed a complaint with the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) on behalf of an elementary-aged student who uses a wheelchair against his School District. The elementary school the student attended had a playground and an outdoor garden classroom that were both completely inaccessible to him because the ground surface was composed entirely of grass and/or mulch. For the five years the student had been attending the elementary school, he had been unable to take part in any of the recreational or instructional activities that were held in those areas. As a result of DRP’s complaint, the District entered into a voluntary resolution agreement with OCR in which it agreed to make both outdoor areas accessible.
Additionally, DRP successfully advocated for another School District to install a stair lift in one of its elementary schools so that a student with a mobility impairment could attend his neighborhood school, instead of being bused to a different elementary school based only on his disability-related needs.