Complaint seeks equal access to elementary school’s playground

Indiana Disability Rights says it has filed a complaint with the state against Richmond Community Schools for segregating disabled students from the playground.

The complaint, filed with the Indiana Department of Education, was lodged on behalf of a student at Crestdale Elementary School who has a primary disability of autism spectrum disorder. The student also has secondary disabilities of speech impairment and language impairment and has several behavioral difficulties.

This student and others with disabilities in the life skills class have not been allowed to use the outdoor playground for recess. At one point, the school district fenced in a grassy area without any playground equipment for the life skills students. However, when the school received a complaint, the district removed the fence. Since then, the life skills class has recess inside the school’s gymnasium.

“This case is about segregation,” said Keith Butler, staff attorney at the disability nonprofit, in a statement. “The student’s grandmother has been trying for years to convince Crestdale Elementary to allow her grandson to safely use the same outdoor playground that children without disabilities use. Instead the student and his classmates are not allowed to go outside and are forced to have recess indoors. A solution is easy – finish the current perimeter fencing to completely enclose the outdoor playground.”

Responding to the complaint, Richmond Community Schools stated, “Our school community safety is our top priority. We will work directly with any community member that has a concern. … We will work through the Indiana Department of Education dispute resolution process for any family member of a student with a special need that has a concern about their child.”

Indiana Disability Rights is requesting several resolutions including having the school erect a 6-foot-high fence around the entire Crestdale Elementary playground area, adding two more swings and allowing the disabled students equal opportunity to use the playground area the same as the non-disabled students.


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