Fargo – Interim United States Attorney Nicholas W. Chase announced today that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of North Dakota entered into a settlement agreement with the Milnor Public School District (“School District”) to resolve an allegation that the School District violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”).
The settlement agreement resolves an ADA complaint alleging that the newly constructed playground at the Milnor Public School is inaccessible to students with disabilities, and that the School District failed to provide accessible transportation to a student with a disability for a field trip. Through its investigation into the complaint, the U.S. Attorney’s Office learned of serious barriers to access for students with disabilities at the playground. These barriers included a newly installed Engineered Wood Fiber playground surface that was loose and unstable, such that a wheelchair user would have extreme difficulty navigating the playground surface. Additionally, the route to the playground area included changes in level, running slopes, and cross slopes far exceeding those permitted under the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Further, the U.S. Attorney’s Office learned about an incident in which a student with a disability was, rather than provided with accessible transportation, picked up and carried on to a non-accessible school bus for a field trip during the school day.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the School District will make modifications to the playground by September 1, 2022, to bring it into compliance with the ADA. Further, when transporting students with disabilities who use mobility devices, the School District will use vehicles with features such as lifts or ramps to properly assist and secure these students.
Interim U.S. Attorney Chase commended the School District for its exemplary cooperation throughout this investigation and for its commitment to the ADA. “Every child in North Dakota should have equal access to educational facilities,” said Interim U.S. Attorney Chase. “I personally thank the Milnor Public School District for its full cooperation with our investigation and for its agreement to correct the issues at the playground before the upcoming school year. We hope other schools, park districts, and providers of playground equipment and installation services remain focused on the requirements of the ADA. Our office is committed to ensuring children with disabilities have full and equal access to educational and recreational opportunities in North Dakota.”
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tara Vavrosky Iversen and Melissa H. Burkland represented the United States in this matter, with assistance from Paralegal Specialist Michelle Erdmann.
Any member of the public who wishes to file a complaint alleging that any place of public accommodation or public entity in North Dakota is not accessible to persons with disabilities may file a complaint online at www.ada.gov or contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at 701-297-7400.
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