Shawnee Parents Push For ADA Compliance At School

Friday, August 9th 2013, 10:20 pm
By: News 9

Parents just outside the metro are pushing for schools to become compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA.) They say barriers around the play equipment at their son's new school are a big problem.

ADA compliance at playgrounds is a real problem across the state. The playgrounds are barricaded to retain the woodchips, but it's those barriers that have children like Luke Stafford simply looking on as his classmates enjoy his favorite time of the day.

Luke, a 6-year-old with Cerebral Palsy is a child full of life. Using a walker to get around is nothing out of the ordinary for Luke, in fact, he thinks nothing of it.

"You like playing on the playground?"

"Yeah, because I can play with my friends," said Luke.

But at his school where he starts Wednesday, he might not be able to do that. Luke's parents, Ken and Dwyn Stafford have been pushing for ADA complaint playgrounds at all schools for special needs children for over a year now.

Ken Stafford says he's met with school board members a number of times to try and speed up the process.

"He made a comment to me about a year and a half ago that he wished he had someone to play with on the playground," said Luke's father, Ken.

"The little kids tried to put him in the swing set, and the swing set just wasn't built for him, and he loves to swing," said Luke's mother, Dwyn.

The Stafford's say they're not trying to single out Will Rogers Elementary in Shawnee, they simply just want to bring awareness to a bigger problem.

"I'm surprised in 2013 that I'm even having this discussion," said Kayla Bower, Senior Attorney at the Oklahoma Disability Law Center. "We should have long ago been in compliance."  

According to Bower, most schools in Oklahoma are in ADA compliance. That includes access and the equipment itself. But, they're still approached with issues of limited to no access to school playgrounds.

"It's very obvious what need to be done, it's fairly inexpensive," said Bower.

The Stafford's say they just want school playgrounds to be brought up to minimum ADA standards. News 9 did reach out to Shawnee Public Schools, but the superintendent has yet to return our call.