Schools big’s vow to help dis­abled kids

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY BEN CHAP­MAN AND ELLEN MOYNI­HAN

City Schools Chan­cel­lor Richard Car­ranza vowed to make a “sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment” in cre­at­ing more ac­ces­si­ble pub­lic schools on Wed­nes­day af­ter a re­port found that only 335 of 1,818 pub­lic schools in the city are bar­ri­er­free for stu­dents with dis­abil­i­ties.

The Ad­vo­cates for Chil­dren anal­y­sis also re­vealed that one cen­tral Brook­lyn school dis­trict has no fully ac­ces­si­ble schools at all — and even schools for stu­dents with se­vere dis­abil­i­ties lack needed wheelchair ramps and el­e­va­tors.

Af­ter the is­sue was spot­lighted with a Daily News cover story, Car­ranza said he’d throw big bucks at the prob­lem in the city school sys­tem’s up­com­ing fiveyear cap­i­tal plan, which is set to be re­leased Nov. 1.

“It’s a pri­or­ity for us,” Car­ranza said at an un­re­lated event in Brook­lyn. “We have a new cap­i­tal plan that’s be­ing de­vel­oped — there’s go­ing to be a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment.”

The Ad­vo­cates for Chil­dren re­port found that less than one-third of schools are fully ac­ces­si­ble in 28 of the city’s 32 school dis­tricts and, in seven dis­tricts, less than 10% of schools are com­pletely ac­ces­si­ble.

Even within the city’s Dis­trict 75 for stu­dents with se­vere dis­abil­i­ties, only 18% of pri­mary school sites are fully ac­ces­si­ble, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

In Brook­lyn’s Dis­trict 16, which en­com­passes Bedford-Stuyvesant, no pub­lic schools are com­pletely bar­ri­er­free, a sit­u­a­tion that pre­vents fam­ily mem­bers and stu­dents with dis­abil­i­ties from ac­cess­ing needed ser­vices, ad­vo­cates said.

The city’s school sys­tem re­lies on many out­dated build­ings and has been crit­i­cized for fail­ing to pro­vide ac­ces­si­ble fa­cil­i­ties for years.

Mayor de Bla­sio added $150 mil­lion in fund­ing to ad­dress the is­sue in the city bud­get adopted in June.

But Car­ranza said Wed­nes­day that it’s not enough and he’s look­ing at an in­vest­ment in the new cap­i­tal plan as well.

“It has to be in the cap­i­tal plan,” said Car­ranza, who noted that assess­ments of school build­ings are al­ready un­der way.

“One of the chal­lenges we have in New York is that we have a very — I say

his­toric — port­fo­lio of schools,” he added. “They’re old.”

Richard Car­ranza

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