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Face the facts


To the Editor:

This letter is in response to a letter appearing in the Grosse Pointe News, Aug. 5, "H.W. schools committee stacked?"

The gentleman who wrote the letter failed to inform the community of Harper Woods that he only attended "a few" of our meetings and never showed again.

Mind you, we met from February until June as the Facility Advisory Committee (FAC). Yes, the committee members were "invited" to attend, however, the door was open to anyone in the community.

If the letter writer had attended more than a few of the meetings, he would have seen the other members of our community who did attend. No, the committee was not stacked. The group involved was a very diverse group of people. The "yes," the "no's," the "maybes" we worked very hard to come to the financially responsible recommendation we made to the Harper Woods board of education.

The exorbitant useless waste of taxpayers' monies may have happened if the FAC listened to only the letter writer's recommendation, in the first "few meetings," and asked to utilize the $3 million equity fund. Instead, the FAC found, after investigating all of the documents we requested, that $3 million was not nearly enough to cover the issues at hand.

It is also no secret to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) that Harper Woods, along with many other school districts in the state of Michigan, has children who are bused to schools specially equipped to handle their needs. It's the law.

OCR is responsible for enforcing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The terminology he used, "physically challenged," is only a percentage of the "handicaps" listed under Section 504, Subpart C-Accessibility, section 104.3 Definitions.

A handicapped person is defined as follows: any person who has a physical or mental impairment, which substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities (as described in Subpart C), means functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working. So yes, a percentage of children are bused to specially equipped schools, while others are able to attend our schools only because of modifications and assistance that we must provide.

If this district was in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, we could provide some of these children an education here in Harper Woods.

If we do not implement the proposed bond into Harper Woods, you can bet the school district will be forced to go back to the community in five years or less!

It's time we faced the facts, stop making excuses and stop "band-aiding" the issues at hand.

Katherine (Souvigney) Smith

Harper Woods

Katherine (Souvigney) Smith
Harper Woods
September 01, 2004

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