Congress of the United States House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515-2701 September 28, 1993 John R.

Dunne Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division U.S. Department of Justice P.O. Box 66116 20035-6118 Washington, D.C. Dear Mr. Dunne: I am writing you today to ask for clarification about private and public school obligations regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act. Your previous correspondence (copy enclosed) was very helpful and I appreciate the telephone clarification that your staff provided to Lorelee Byrd of my Fremont Office regarding question number three of my previous correspondence. Many of my constituents use the terms "religious school" and "private school" interchangeably and your staff indicated that Title III provides a broad exemption from the ADA requirements for religious entities including religious private schools. I am now requesting additional help in answering a complicated question regarding the activities of religious private schools. In Nebraska, as is the case in other states, our religious private high schools have athletic and academic teams that participate in various competitions. Religious private and public schools participate in activities thru the Nebraska School Activities Association. Schools participate and compete with other schools of the same size and both religious private and public schools compete with each other. My question is this -- if a religious private school, which is exempted from the ADA, hosts an activity such as a basketball game at their facility with a public school does the religious private school have to meet ADA requirements? For example, I would like to know what is expected in reference to the ADA in certain situations that are likely to occur when a religious private school hosts an event with a public school. If an individual who is disabled or needs some type of reasonable accommodation attends an event at the religious private school facility, who is responsible, if anyone, for providing

reasonable accommodations to the public school patrons attending this event? Additionally, when a religious private school hosts a debate tournament that includes several public schools and the competition is being held on the third floor of the religious private school, who is 01-02850 responsible, if anyone, for providing reasonable accommodations -which could include entering the facility, getting to the third floor and/or auxillary aides in order to participate-- to public school participants and/or public school spectators? Broadly speaking, how does the ADA affect activities that are hosted by an exempted religious private school when such events are attended by public school participants and/or public school spectators? According to the ADA Handbook (Title III, page 37), it seems quite clear that religious private schools and the activities of religious private schools are exempted from the ADA requirements. Does that exemption still apply when exempted religious private schools host activities that involve public schools and disabled public school participants and/or disabled public school spectators are planning to attend? I also have additional questions for you about the ADA regarding local city governments. If a community evaluates its parks and community centers but determines that it would create an undue financial burden to provide accessibility and reasonable accommodations at each park and each community center, can a city government designate one city park as the handicapped accessible city park and one community center as the handicapped accessible community center in order to meet program accessibility standards as explained in Title II, page 57 of the ADA Handbook? In its evaluation the city in question determined it could provide program accessibility and avoid undue financial hardship by designating the most centrally located park with the most extensive playground and picnic facilities as its handicapped accessible park. This park has the largest swimming pool which is being made barrier free and the park is adjacent to the YMCA and the track and football stadium that is used by public schools, a religious private school and a private college. The same evaluation was used in designating the most centrally located community center as the handicapped accessible -community center. In making these evaluations and determinations, the city formed an advisory committee, which included disabled individuals, to assist

itself in making these decisions. Furthermore, when the city rents one of its parks or community centers to its citizens, the city informs them which city park and community center is handicapped accessible. Given the above described situation, is this city in compliance with or in violation of the ADA? The city is also aware that all future improvements to any park must meet ADA requirements and in the city's long range ADA plan there are plans for upgrading other parks to provide for additional barrier free facilities. 01-02851​ Thank you for your assistance. A very prompt response would be appreciated because I have had numerous constituents who have asked about these requirements. If you need additional information, please contact Lorelee Byrd at 402-727-0888. Please direct your reply to my Fremont Area District Office, P.O. Box 377, Fremont, Nebraska 68025. Best wishes,

DOUG BEREUTER Member of Congress

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