Bridgehampton School Elevator story
In 1992 the American with Disabilities Act became law and required that all schools including the Bridgehampton School afford access to all parts of its facility to all.
In 1997 a mother of a child in a wheelchair attending the Bridgehampton School called the EEDG asking for help. Apparently for the many years her son had been attending Bridgehampton School he had never been able to get to the classes such as Science or Library because they were not on the first floor and there were only stairs, no elevator to those floors, NO access to those classes for him. All her families’ pleas for many years had fallen on deaf ears at the school, they needed help.
East End Disabilities Group representing the boy in the wheelchair, with his family’s permission went to the next Bridgehampton School Board Meeting to speak on behalf of the child and all people with disabilities that might want to visit or be part of or attend the Bridgehampton School.
We gathered in a crowed Gymnasium with many people and press attending from the community. When it was EEDG’s turn to speak Glenn Hall and Richard Rosenthal got up to represent the child in the wheelchair, demanding his right to full access to all the facilities, to all programs his classmates were able to participate in that he was being denied. Demanding, not asking, that this child and all be afforded the rights guaranteed under Federal Law, the American with Disabilities Act.
Initially some member of the school board pushed back saying it was expensive that they didn’t have the money it was a small school they were doing all they could. EEDG’s position was that they had had 5 years to comply with the law and a lawsuit in Federal court was our next course of action.
EEDG was asked to meet after the Board meeting to discuss and hopefully work out the issue.
In a private meeting after the public School Board meeting EEDG was informed that the elevator needed was in the planning stages. That it would cost a great deal of money and the school had saved up almost 75 percent of the required monies. They agreed that this issue needed to be resolved and if EEDG would hold off on a law suit they would take immediate action to install the elevator.
By the next school year the elevator was installed and the child who had never been to any floor but the first was able to attend all the classes that his classmates were going to.
This boy went on to graduate Valedictorian of his class in Bridgehampton in 2003!