MAR 20 1996 The Honorable Sam Farr Member, U.S.

House of Representatives 701 Ocean Street Santa Cruz, California 95060 Dear Congressman Farr: I am responding to your letter on behalf of your constituent, XX , who is concerned about provisions for persons with disabilities in the San Benito Joint Union High School. Specifically, XX would like to know whether the High School is subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and whether the main auditorium, which hosts events open to the general pubic, is required to be accessible to persons using wheelchairs. Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in State and local government services, including public schools. Buildings constructed by or for State or local governments since the effective date of the ADA, January 26, 1992, are required to be fully accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, including individuals who use wheelchairs. In addition, sections 35.149 and 35.150 of the Department's title II regulation (enclosed) require accessibility to programs, services, and activities in facilities that were existing on the effective date of the statute. The principal focus of the program accessibility standard is access to programs, services, and activities, as opposed to access to physical structures. Therefore, not every area of an existing school facility would have to be made accessible, as long as there is access to a school's programs, services, or activities. For existing facilities, every building does not necessarily have to be made accessible if all of the programs located inside that building can be made accessible by alternative means. Section 35.150(b)(1) of the title II regulation does not require that a school district eliminate structural barriers if it provides access to its programs through alternative methods such as redesign of equipment, reassignment of services to accessible buildings, assignment of aides to beneficiaries, delivery of cc: Records, Chrono, Wodatch, McDowney, Milton, FOIA

n:\udd\milton\congress\existfac.far\sc. young-parran 01-04175 -2services at alternate accessible sites, alteration of existing facilities and construction of new facilities, or any other methods that result in making the services, programs, or activities readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. If structural alterations are necessary to provide program accessibility, such alterations must be undertaken unless the public entity can demonstrate that the alterations would cause a fundamental change to its program or that the cost of the alterations would result in undue financial and administrative burdens. 28 C.F.R. S 35.150(a)(3). Where an action would result in such a change or such burdens, the public entity must take any other action that would not result in such change or such burdens but would nevertheless ensure that individuals with disabilities receive the benefits or services provided by the entity. Thus, in situations where a school has an existing inaccessible auditorium in which public events are held, in order to meet its program accessibility obligations, the school district may choose to move the event from the inaccessible auditorium to an accessible location or to make the auditorium accessible to persons with disabilities. If making the auditorium accessible would result in a fundamental change in the events or would constitute an undue financial or administrative burden, then the school district would be required to move the events to an accessible location. In the event that the San Benito Joint Union High School is in violation of the ADA, XX has several enforcement options. First, he may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, which is the agency most likely to have jurisdiction over his complaint by writing to: Office for Civil Rights, Department of Education, 330 C. Street, N.W., Suite 5000, Washington, D.C. 20202. The complaint must be in writing and must include the complainant's name, address, and signature, and a description of the public entity's alleged discriminatory action. As an alternative to investigation by a Federal agency, XX may file a lawsuit in the appropriate Federal district court. He would not need any approval letter from the

Department of Justice before proceeding. Attorneys' fees are available under title II to a prevailing party in a private lawsuit. XX also may seek to resolve his complaint through alternative dispute resolution. The enclosed brochure describes such processes. 01-04176 -3I hope this information is helpful to you in responding to your constituent. Sincerely, Deval L. Patrick Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division Enclosures 01-04177 INTAKE MEMO Salinas 01/29/95 JU XX XX XX XX want to know whether San Benito Joint Union High School is subject to the Americans' With Disability Act (ADA). If so, then XX opines that the High School is violating the Act because the main auditorium, which hosts events open to the general public, is not wheel chair accessible. Can Congressman Farr please find out whether or not the High School is subject to ADA? If so, can Congressman Farr describe the steps which XX should take to make a complaint with the appropriate authorities? 01-04178