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ADA not met

To the Editor:

I am a parent of two sons at Beacon School in Harper Woods. I also have a daughter, Katie, who attends Barnes School, Special Education.

This letter is in response to the letter, "Bond complaints," printed in the Feb. 6 issue of the Grosse Pointe News.

First, let me say to the letter writer that my husband David and I support the upcoming bond election. If I may, I'd like to give you a brief history on Katie: She was born at 25 weeks gestation weighing only 1 pound, 4 ounces. She spent over three months in the neonatal intensive care unit fighting for her life. She has been through numerous surgeries and doctor visits.

She has endured more in her short 4 years of life than most of us have in our entire lifetime. Katie has cerebral palsy, B.P.D. and asthma é physical disabilities, not academic disabilities. But then I thought about it, there is an academic disability our schools!

Katie is eligible to start kindergarten at Beacon this fall. Unfortunately, I do not see a safe environment for her.

How will she be able to attend the art and music classes on the second floor? What about the playscape, will someone be there to assist her? With the overcrowded classrooms, due to inadequate classroom size, how will she be able to maintain balance among 18 to 20 other kindergarten classmates? There are no handrails exiting and/or entering the Woodside and playground doors.

Our schools have served their purpose. The buildings are literally falling apart. The size of the classrooms is inadequate and most importantly, the schools do not meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.

The millions of dollars that it will cost to renovate 50-year-old buildings, to meet the ADA requirements, is just not worth my money our money. Not to mention, I do not want my children exposed to five years-plus of renovating the schools, with all the dust, dirt and any other material that may be unsafe for our children.

My daughter is too young to fight for the rights she is entitled to, the right to attend a public school that is safe and one that can accommodate her needs. It is, however, my responsibility as a parent to stand up for the rights of my child.

Letter writer, my request is that you come tour the schools to become better educated with the bond issue. It's not about, and I quote you, "a 1/2-inch crack in the wall," it's about providing a safe and secure learning environment for our children. It's about drawing people into our community for "state of the art" schools that meet the needs of all children, including our handicapped children.

Just think letter writer, people will want to move to Harper Woods and stay in Harper Woods to attend the schools that we have built.

We need to move forward, send our children the right message and give them the technology they deserve, the technology they need to survive in today's world.

Katherine Smith

Harper Woods

Katherine Smith
February 20, 2003

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