Information is currency for democracy.
- Thomas Jefferson
A day without sunshine is like, you know,
Education is unique among consumer products;
when it fails to work as advertised, it's the customer that gets labeled as
defective. - Kevin
download for best results in using
Courage is the most important of all
the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other
virtues consistently. You can't be consistently kind or fair or
humane or generous, not without courage, because if you don't have
it, sooner or later you will stop and say, "The threat is too much.
The difficulty is ...too high. The challenge is too great. ~ Maya
Attention Eanes ISD: It's time to end the district's long practice of discrimination.
What happens when a school district refuses to allow a gifted child with disabilities to access AP classes?
This just in from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights:
December 26, 2007 - I am writing to advise you of an issue involving students with disabilities seeking enrollment in challenging academic programs, such as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes or programs (accelerated programs). Specifically, it has been reported that some schools and school districts have refused to allow qualified students with disabilities to participate in such programs. Similarly, we are informed of schools and school districts that, as a condition of participation in such programs, have required qualified students with disabilities to give up the services that have been designed to meet their individual needs. These practices are inconsistent with Federal law, and the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education will continue to act promptly to remedy such violations where they occur.
The practice of denying, on the basis of disability, a qualified student with a disability the opportunity to participate in an accelerated program violates both Section 504 and Title II. Discrimination prohibited by these laws includes, on the basis of disability, denying a qualified individual with a disability the opportunity to participate in or benefit from the recipient's aids, benefits, or services, and affording a qualified individual with a disability with an opportunity to participate in or benefit from the aid, benefit or service in a manner that is not equal to that offered to individuals without disabilities. 34 CFR 104.4(a), (b)(1)(i), (b)(1)(ii); 28 CFR 35.130(a), (b)(1)(i), (b)(1)(ii).
March 19, 2008 -
As I stood taking these pictures
of the athletic practice field
in front of the WHS ninth
grade center this afternoon, the
lyrics of an old James Taylor song kept running through my
Well, I'm a
I'm bound to roll
all over you ...
real visual of a steamroller
ripping up a sports field of fancy (and
expensive) sod, to be replaced
with fancy (and even more
expensive) Astroturf left me
feeling as though yet another
napalm bomb had exploded (in
this taxpayer's wallet). It is hard to comprehend a
public school board that
is so willing to prioritize
something so frivolous, while at
the same time willing to remain
intentionally indifferent to the
discrimination against students
resulting from the district's
long standing ADA noncompliance.
click here for "before" photos
and a 2007 KeepEanesInformed
report on this bond expenditure.)
click here, turn up your
volume and join me as we
continue to sing the Eanes ISD
March 2008 -
Eanes superintendent Nola
Wellman is "LOOKING AT"
emergency exits with stairs instead of
ramps while "SPENDING"
millions to cover sports
practice fields in
Astroturf. Note to
Compliance with ADA laws is
required; football turf not.
"We're looking at any items
that might be sticking out,
or ramp angles that might
not be appropriate," said
Superintendent Dr. Nola
Wellman. "Or exiting of
buildings where the exit has
stairs instead of ramps."
spent on astroturf for
Westlake's practice field
and new film lab could be
used to make buildings more
accessible, or hire more
staff to work with special
Nola Wellman began
working in Eanes (January
2004) she had a fresh 2003
ADA noncompliance report in
her hands as well as reports
from previous years also
outlining the noncompliance
with federal law.
Note: ADA Task Force priority categories are not
included on these reports.
"SHW" refers to 2003
"2007 Consultant" is the
Registered Accessibility Specialist licensed by Texas
Department of Licensing and Regulation to identify Texas
Architectural Standards (the equivalent of ADA)
Observations" means district personnel/parent identified
issues and/or notes.
Link coming soon:
2007 report outlining
1900 violations will be
turf and lights for practice field: $1.2
Amount spent in recent bond to install
the grass just destroyed: $400,000
Architect's estimate to bring Eanes
Elementary ramps to code during last
Architect's estimate to bring Eanes
Elementary ramps to code today: $500,000
Amount allocated to bring Eanes
Elementary ramps to code: $0
Amount allocated during March 2008 board
meeting to WHS film
Amount superintendent says she will
spend on ADA: $1 million
Items she will address: unspecified
Current bond project coded to ADA:
renovation of baseball dugouts
Child's right to access safe and
appropriate education: Priceless.
Evacuation Planning Tool
for School Students with
If your child attends
Barton Creek Elementary
School, Forest Trail
Valley View Elementary
School, Hill Country
Middle School, West
Ridge Middle School, or
Westlake High School,
you need to read this.
These schools have been
inspectors as having
violations related to
emergency evacuation for
Because of this serious
safety issue, ADA Task Force
Parents found and gave this
National Fire Protection
Planning Tool for Students
to Superintendent Wellman,
with the recommendation that
evacuation plans be
immediately instituted and
parent permission obtained
for copies to go to
emergency responders. To
date, Wellman has not
instituted this policy, nor
presented it to the EISD
Board of Trustees.
What you can do: Tell
Ms. Wellman to institute
this policy. Ask for
this in your ARD.
I am a
"The to-do list
is long — about five inches
thick — and lands with a thud
atop Eanes school district
Superintendent Nola Wellman's
desk: 1900 modifications
March 13, 2008 -
"This is a case of misplaced
priorities," Fries said. "If you
don't have enough money (for
accessibility projects), then
you shouldn't be building a new
softball complex and a new film
March 11, 2008
The Eanes ISD board and
superintendent changed the
scope of our bond package to
include millions of dollars for
the installation of artificial
turf on the high school sports practice fields.
The voters never approved this
expenditure. The district
also prioritized new tennis
courts and a million dollar film
Eanes ISD (fully aware for
decades that our public
school facilities do not comply
with the Americans with
Disabilities Act - ADA) decided
to risk the intervention of the
Department of Justice or a
mother with the intelligence and
courage to advocate for change. That mother is
Cheryl Fries. Read Cheryl's statement
(below)and then contact
Nola Wellman, Superintendent,
and the Eanes ISD Board of
March 11, 1008
- Cheryl Fries:
Every bond issue, Eanes neglects
its legal and moral duty to
eliminate barriers that
segregate and, in many cases,
endanger people with
disabilities. As a result, every
day Eanes children are
navigating dangerous routes,
Eanes children and teachers are
spending their learning time in
closets and disintegrating
portables, Eanes children are
left to watch from the sidelines
as their friends play, and Eanes
children are forced to enter
their schools through back
doors. In several Eanes schools,
serious barriers prevent the
evacuation of disabled persons
in emergency drills. There is
nothing exemplary about this.
In the past year, parent
volunteers have dedicated
hundreds of hours to help the
district prioritize ADA
compliance. The superintendent
has chosen to ignore our
recommendations in favor of a
list of "easy" items for
According to the Eanes ISD
website bond updates page, $35
million in unencumbered bond
money is on the table. There can
be no higher priority for that
money than providing safe, equal
access to education for Eanes
January 20, 2008 -
SPECIAL REPORT: Complying with
disability lawsDespite a 1992 study outlining
problems in almost every
Richmond school, officials did
little to fix problems, and then
only when parents complained,
said School Board member Carol
A.O. Wolf. She says that is
outrageous, and she has pushed
for years to get the school
system to address the issue.
October 12, 2007 -
to review what happens when the federal government responds to an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance complaint.
During the Eanes school board
2006 Bond Study Session in
January 2007, EISD Trustees were
informed of district ADA
compliance violations “dating
back to the 1990’s” that placed
the school district at a
“significant arena of risk for
Justice Department intervention
and/or constituent litigation.”
In fact, the consultant informed
Eanes ISD that the district is
at risk if 1) a constituent
submits a complaint or 2) the
Department of Justice decides to
enforce the law. The
consultant reminded Eanes ISD
that the district "did not
complete the program that was
supposed to have been completed
in the late 90s."
Click here to read my
letter to the Eanes ISD Board of Trustees - Dianna Pharr
How long before a
prior ADA complaint in 2004 was closed by the
Office of Civil Rights? Early 2007.
phone log here
Access in Eanes
During a recent Eanes ISD school board meeting,
the Americans with Disabilities Act Task Force spokesperson described serious
access problems in district facilities, including children in wheelchairs not
being evacuated during fire drills, blocked from recreational fields and
excluded from playgrounds. Months of attempts to work with the superintendent
stalled as administrators refused to provide the task force with documents and
reneged on deadlines.
Trustee Robert Durkee asked Superintendent Nola
Wellman whether this was true, and she said, “No.”
Brick-and-mortar facts say otherwise. Removing
barriers that segregate children and affect issues of safety and legal
compliance should be an urgent priority for the $53 million bond issue.
September 12, 2007 - Letter to the Editor - Westlake Picayune newspaper
August 29th, parent volunteers of the Eanes ADA Task Force asked the
Board of Trustees to appoint a member to serve on a Task Force to work
positively and effectively with the district to remove architectural
barriers and eliminate ADA compliance violations dating back to the
In a statement during Open Forum, the
Task Force spokesperson told the Board of Trustees that many serious and
urgent access problems exist across Eanes facilities, including but not
limited to children in wheelchairs not evacuated during fire drills,
children blocked from recreational fields, and children excluded from
recess due to architecture and that eight months of attempts to work
with the Superintendent had been unsuccessful, as administrators had
refused to provide the Task Force with documents, refused to schedule
meetings, and reneged on the mutually agreed upon deadline. Trustee Robert Durkee asked
Superintendent Nola Wellman if this was true, and she said, "no."
Brick and mortar facts say otherwise, as
does the 2003 SHW Facilities Assessment Review (available on
www.keepeanesinformed.com.) The district fought hard
to withhold this report, and released it only after formal complaints to
the Attorney General and County Attorney. In this study, ADA violations
at every Eanes school were outlined in detail and budgeted for repair.
Why five years have passed without them being addressed is another
Removing barriers that segregate children
should be the highest and most urgent priority for the current $53
million bond, as it is an issue of safety, legal compliance, and direct
Parents and taxpayers should not accept anything less than Exemplary
status when it comes to providing access for all children. These
problems have gone decades without being fixed and real children have
been affected by them for far too long. The time is here. And so is the
Your action is needed! Please email (or
call) trustees at www.trustees.eanes.k12.us and tell them you support
the ADA Task Force and Eanes ADA compliance as an urgent priority and
attend the Board of Trustees Work Study Session September 17 at 6:30
p.m., during which this issue and the bond in general will be addressed
Support Eanes ISD children - Here's How You Can Help!
August 31, 2007
Once again, Eanes ISD's continuing refusal to work with parents of children with disabilities or comply with federal law is documented. Once again, Nola Wellman, Eanes ISD denies the district’s noncompliance in an open public meeting.
History of Eanes ISD's Refusal to Provide 2003 ADA Facilities Assessment Review to the Public:
September 2005: In response to public information request district refuses to provide a single document.
January 2006: In response to second request for this public information, district continues to refuse to provide a single documents and submits an opinion request with Office of the Attorney General to attempt to withhold the information from requestor.
April 2006: State of Texas Office of the Attorney General ruled and ordered the district to produce the public information. The district continued to withhold the information.
December 2007: 16 months later and only with the assistance of the County Attorney David Escamilla, Eanes ISD produces the documents including but not limited to the 2003 SHW Facilities Assessment Review referenced below.
April 2007: District representative Bill Bechtol convened the ADA Task Force. When one member informed the group that the ADA reports existed, the entire Task Force specifically requested data, including the most recent ADA facility assessment report, in order to begin their work.
May 2007: At the second of two meetings, District representative Bill Bechtol informed the ADA Task Force that each committee member must pay $90.00 to receive a copy of one report, the 2003 SHW ADA Facilities Assessment Review. A taxpayer submitted a $90.00 check to Eanes ISD the following day. His check was never cashed and he did not receive the report. The 2003 SHW ADA Facilities Report provides detailed lists of ADA compliance problems at every Eanes ISD school. The report includes specific information regarding emergency egress problems, playground and recreational field barriers, restroom barriers, and numerous other ADA violations.
August 2007: Several members of our community speak out at the regular board meeting. In response to a direct question from a board member regarding these issues, Nola Wellman, superintendent denies community and parent assertions. LISTEN HERE - Note: please listen to entire segment to hear all community speakers and Eanes board and superintendent response.
To date, Eanes ISD has not provided the 2003 SHW ADA Facilities Assessment Review to the ADA Task Force. Eanes administrators have actively and repeatedly withheld this report from stakeholders, and now have paid more consultants to generate more reports.
Support Parent Task Force Efforts To Address ADA Violations
On August 29th, parent volunteers of the Eanes ADA Task Force asked the Board of Trustees to appoint a member to serve on a Task Force to work positively and effectively with the district to remove architectural barriers and eliminate ADA compliance violations dating back to the 1990's.
In a statement during Open Forum, the Task Force spokesperson told the Board of Trustees that many serious and urgent access problems exist across Eanes facilities, including but not limited to children in wheelchairs not evacuated during fire drills, children blocked from recreational fields, and children excluded from recess due to architecture and that eight months of attempts to work with the Superintendent had been unsuccessful, as administrators had refused to provide the Task Force with documents, refused to schedule meetings, and reneged on the mutually agreed upon deadline.
Trustee Robert Durkee asked Superintendent Nola Wellman if this was true, and she said, "no."
Brick and mortar facts say otherwise, as does the 2003 SHW Facilities Assessment Review. The district fought hard to withhold this report, and released it only after being ordered to by the Texas Attorney General and Travis County Prosecutor. In this study, ADA violations at every Eanes ISD school were outlined in detail and budgeted for repair. Why five years have passed without them being addressed is another question.
ADA Task Force parents maintain that removing barriers that segregate children should be the highest and most urgent priority for the current $53 million bond, as it is an issue of safety, legal compliance, and direct instructional/curricular support.
Eanes ISD does not accept minimum standards, and this goes for architectural code compliance as well. Parents and taxpayers should not accept anything less than Exemplary status when it comes to providing access for all children. These problems have gone decades without being fixed and real children have been affected by them for far too long. The time is here. And so is the money.
Your action is needed! Please email (or call) trustees at trustees.eanes.k12.us and tell them you support the ADA Task Force and Eanes ADA compliance as an urgent priority and make plans now to attend the Board of Trustees Work Study Session September 17 at 6:30 p.m., during which this issue and the bond in general will be addressed.
3/20/07 - Warning! Pay for the fields and then KEEP
OFF! Eanes ISD
Board just authorized the expenditure of millions of our
tax dollars to "change the scope" of the 2006
Bond Program and "authorize artificial turf and
lights for Westlake High School athletic fields.
See more below ...
At the same time,
community members are concerned about other
issues ... such as safety, and the district's
compliance with the Americans with Disabilities
Act. The following documents were
obtained using the Texas Public Information Act
and reflect specific issues by campus.
The ADA documents do not stand alone.
Rather, they a part of a voluminous report on
these issues including the Facility Analysis
Note: I requested these
reports pursuant to the Texas Public Information Act in September 2005 and
January 2006. I finally obtained a portion of the reports over one
year later after a formal complaint to the County Attorney when the district
did not produce the public information as the Office of the Attorney General
Information obtained includes the following and has been shared with community as appropriate:
Facilities Assessment Report (reflects ADA issues)
2001, 2002 -
SHW Facilities Assessment Report (reflects ADA issues) - Part 1 Part 2
Part 3 Part 4 Part 5
2003 - SHW
Facilities Assessment Report (reflects ADA issues)
2004 - EANES ISD "ADA ISSUES" - JUNE 11, 1004 - This oversized, color-shaded summary of past reports was produced SIX MONTHS after Nola Wellman began working in Eanes ISD.
Click here to inspect more ADA noncompliance reports funded by our tax dollars. Please note the dates span 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003.
May 8, 2008 -
Practice fields imperfect for disabled
A complaint alleging
discrimination against disabled people could lead Katy
school district officials to improve access to football
practice fields at a high school campus to comply with
The Office of
Civil Rights, a branch of the U.S. Department of
Education, ensures that programs or activities that
receive federal money comply with the Rehabilitation
Act. Violations could result in withholding of funds or
of the department's press office in Washington, said
Tuesday there is no timeframe for resolving the
complaint but reviews are typically completed in six
Full Story Here