Wednesday, September 29, 2010

NYC mother says school's broken elevator means her disabled daughter, other disabled children can't attend classes

From the NY Daily News:

The broken elevator at a Manhattan middle school prevented two wheelchair-bound students from attending their first two and a half weeks of classes.

Intermediate School 143's elevator - which officials acknowledge has been broken since July - should have been fixed in time for school, one of the outraged parents charged.

"They don't understand the elevator is a symbol of pretty much everything for her," said Rosalyn Sanchez, 32, mother of Ashley Santiago (pictured), 13, an eighth-grader. "Her life is upstairs. Her class is upstairs."

Ashley spent at least one day in the first-floor teachers' lounge before being moved to a classroom.

But Ashley's mom says the girl wasn't getting the same instruction she would have in her regular classes.

"They're just giving her a pamphlet of stuff. ... She's not being taught the way she's supposed to," said Sanchez, who wants her daughter transferred to another school.

"They know there are kids in wheelchairs. Why aren't they doing it faster? Why aren't they working on it 24 hours a day?"

Buildings Department records show inspectors rated the elevator "unsatisfactory" in two consecutive annual inspections.

But the city Education Department yesterday insisted the elevator will be back in service as soon as Monday.

"Repairs on the elevator are complete. Department of Buildings has to inspect it on Monday and then it will be put back into operation," said agency spokeswoman Margie Feinberg, noting the Education Department officials had helped the school prepare for the elevator being out of service through the end of the month.

"We worked with the school and the network prior to school opening to make adequate arrangements for the students until construction was done," she said. "We understand how truly difficult this has been."