Cash: PPS is in ADA compliance regarding student with disability

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Superintendent David Cash on Dec. 12 told the Pawhuska Board of Education that the school system is in compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act in regard to the needs of a student with cerebral palsy.

The Pawhuska board In November heard a complaint from a parent, whose 12-year-old daughter was unable to use an elevator at the two-story Junior High School because the elevator had been out of service for a prolonged period of time. The student has cerebral palsy.

Cash on Dec. 12 told the board that arrangements had been made for all of the student’s classes to be on the ground floor, so that she would not have to use the stairs. Cash said Pawhuska Public Schools had been in contact with the state office of disability compliance.

Board members also learned Dec. 12 that Pawhuska school administrators were told by a regulator that successfully repairing the elevator that is in place at the Junior High is unlikely. Repair work was done earlier this calendar year, with the intent of having the elevator in service by August, on the first day of the 2022-23 school year. It reportedly failed on the first day of school and has been out of service ever since.

Cash said a regulator who looked at the elevator characterized efforts to successfully repair it as “throwing good money at a bad problem.” He said the school district has received an official letter to that effect.

Cash said the school district had been in contact with numerous elevator companies and was awaiting bids from as many as three of them.

“Our guesstimate is that an elevator is $100,000 if they can reuse the shaft that is in there,” Cash said. “If it’s not, yikes, not sure what that would be.”

Board member Shannon Shaw Duty asked if the district has any leftover federal funding that could be spent on an elevator project. Cash replied that the district does not have any such money. He said the district has federal funds, but the guidelines for those funds would not permit them to be spent to address an elevator problem.

Cash said the particularly disappointing element of the situation with the existing elevator was that the company that tried to repair it backed out.

“They told us they could do it, after looking at it and running the serial numbers and all those things, and then they pulled out on us and said, ‘We don’t want any part of it,’” Cash said.

Board member Tom Boone asked about possibly moving students and teachers and being done with the Junior High building.

Cash said that having a junior high school for students in grades 6-8 is preferable to having a situation where seventh-graders and eighth-graders are mixed into a high school setting.

“If at all possible, the Junior High is a really good concept,” he said.