APR 9 1996 The Honorable Gerald B. Solomon U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C.

20515-3222 Dear Congressman Solomon: I am responding to your letter on behalf of your constituent, Mr. XX , who is concerned about provisions for students with disabilities in the Rhinebeck, New York, school district. Specifically, XX would like to know whether the school district is eligible for a waiver from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) due to the expense that compliance with the ADA would entail. Please excuse our delay in responding. Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in State and local government services, including public schools. Sections 35.149 and 35.150 of the Department's title II regulation (enclosed) require accessibility to programs, services, and activities in facilities existing on the effective date of the statute, January 26, 1992. 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 services at alternate accessible sites, alteration of existing facilities, 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. cc: Records, Chrono, Wodatch, McDowney, Milton, FOIA

n:\udd\milton\congress\progacc.sol\sc. young-parran 01-04205 -2If 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. As you can see, the ADA is a reasonable and balanced law that takes the cost of compliance into consideration. Therefore, the law does not allow waivers. Thus, public entities may not waive the requirements of the ADA, nor is any Federal agency or other entity authorized to grant such a waiver. I hope this information is helpful to you in responding to your constituent. Sincerely, Deval L. Patrick Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division Enclosure 01-04206 Handicapped Accessibility Currently, no district building meets the Federal requirements contained in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This act, signed into law by President George Bush on July 26, 1990, essentially requires that all program areas of all public buildings must be made accessible to persons with disabilities. At this time, the district has children with disabilities in the first, fourth and fifth grades, and they will not be able to access the Bulkeley building because of its limitations. This creates a possible legal liability for the

District. An architectural study, provided to the district earlier this year, estimated the cost of the renovations at Bulkeley to be as high as $750,000.00. A recent estimate by the current architect, based on different plans, estimates renovations at $460,000. The building will need a three story elevator, exterior ramp work, new doors, and lavatory renovations. Yet the district would still face space problems at Bulkeley and an accessibility problem at the High School. VOTE January 18, 1996 2:00 PM -- 9:00 PM At the High School Gymnasium 01-04207