Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Edmunds Middle School Accessibility Article

A Feb. 18, 2009 Seven Days cover story by Aimee Picchi...

Middle schoolers whiz through the halls, laughing and talking, books in their swinging hands. It’s a change of period at Edmunds Middle School, and the students are pounding up and down stairs to make it to their classes on time.

Most of them may not give the 19th-century building’s layout a second thought. But Burlington resident and parent Michael Wood-Lewis does. His oldest child uses a wheelchair. Chris Giard, director of property services for the Burlington School District, is winding up a tour of the property, pointing out to Wood-Lewis why students with mobility problems can’t attend the Edmunds schools: stairs, stairs and more stairs.

For much of the tour, Wood-Lewis — the founder and owner of neighborhood email listserv Front Porch Forum — has been quiet. But in the stairwell, pausing amid the mingling scents of cafeteria food and stale gymnasium, he voices the question he’s been asking since his third-grader, who was born with cerebral palsy, first entered the school system: When will the Edmunds schools be made accessible to people with disabilities?

“This is the most prominent school in the state of Vermont, and yet we’re segregating our kids,” Wood-Lewis tells Giard. His voice contains a touch of resignation, as if he may not expect an answer. “Everyone has been kind, but when is it going to get done?”...

Click here to read the entire piece.

UPDATE: Read two excellent letters to the editor in response to this article.

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