NEW ROCHELLE — I have been asking readers to assist in a crowdsourcing project to review Annual Visual Inspection documents obtained over the past several months under a Freedom of Information request.
Several readers have begun to take me up on that including Richard Feltenstein, the father of Jennifer Feltenstein graduated from New Rochelle High School in June, 2013, who is perhaps best well-known as one of two students left behind during a fire emergency at the high school in 2013.
Richard Feltenstein noted problems with the Accessibility section of the Annual Visual Inspection for New Rochelle High School for 2013
87. Accessibility/Exterior Route (H)
People with disabilities should be able to arrive on site, approach the building, and enter as freely as everyone else. At least one route of travel should be safe and accessible for everyone, including people with disabilities. This route must
include handicapped parking, curb cuts, ramps, and automatic door operators as necessary to enter the building.
a. Is there an accessible exterior route as specified above? District answered “Yes”.
Feltenstein: For the entire time Jennifer Feltenstein was a student at New Rochelle High School she was never able to get into the school by herself. The entrance by the “embassy area” had an automatic controller to open the doors but in her four years at the high school the door controller never worked. To get in and out, her father had to walk her into the school; her aide had to walk her out of the school.
88. Accessibility/Interior Route, Access to Goods and Services, and Restroom Facilities (H)
The layout of the building should allow people with disabilities to obtain materials or services and use the facilities without assistance. This should include access to general purpose and specialized classrooms, public assembly spaces (such as libraries, gymnasiums, auditoriums), nurse’s office, main office, and restroom facilities. Services include drinking fountains, telephones, and other amenities.
a. Does the building provide and accessible interior route and access to goods, services and facilities as specified above? District answered “Yes”.
b. If the building is multi-story, are all levels of the structure accessible by elevator? District answered “Yes”.
Feltenstein: For the entire time Jennifer Feltenstein was a student at New Rochelle High School she was never able to get into the school library through the main entrance. The route into the library from the main school building includes two sets of steps, one that leads down from the main building into a hallway and then another that leads up into the library.
For Jennifer Feltenstein to enter the library she and her aide would go to a side door, not a regular entrance and knock on the door. They would then wait until someone heard the knocking, obtained the key and unlocked then opened the door. This often took several minutes and sometimes longer. Despite this going on for four years — and a clear set of violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act =– neither Jennifer Feltenstein or her regularly assigned aide was ever given the key to the lock on the side entrance door.
Jennifer Feltenstein, for the entire time she attended New Rochelle High School was unable to enter a principal’s office or any other office or classroom. She is left-handed and must control her power wheelchair by manipulating a device with her left hand. She cannot use her right hand. So, it was impossible for Jennifer to hold a door open for herself and enter a room.
The nurses office at New Rochelle High School cannot accommodate a wheelchair like the one required for Jennifer Feltenstein. She could only be accommodated in the back area of the nurse’s office and was unable to use the bathroom in the nurse’s office.
In response to a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”), Director of Special and Alternative Education Yvette Goorevitch wrote a letter, dated June 18, 2012, to Erin Gimbel, Compliance Team Leader of the OCR handling the investigation into the complaint. As we reported last month, Goorevitch made a series of misleading and, in some cases, material false statements to the OCR.
Among those false statements is her claim that the bathroom in the nurse’s office at New Rochelle High School is fully accessible.
Attachments# 1, 2, and 3 shows the Floor Plans of the, 1st Floor, 2nd Floor. 3rd Floor with the Handicapped Accessible Faculty Bathroom identified in yellow and the Accessible Girls Restroom identified in orange and the Accessible Restroom in the Health Office identified in blue. All accessible Restrooms in the building meet ADA Accessibility guidelines.
Goorevitch has a well-documented history of making false and misleading statements.
The City School District of New Rochelle lost a lawsuit with U.S. Department of Justice and is now being sued in U.S. Federal Court for $26 million over the District’s failure to remove to wheelchair-bound students during a fire emergency at the school. In press a statement issued immediately after the event, Yvette Goorevitch, the Director of Special and Alternative Education, issued a statement to the press in which she made numerous false and deceptive statement and repeated those statements to the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights.
We recently documented how Goorevitch lied to the OCR about a wheelchair lift at the Linda Kelly Theater at New Rochelle High School and published video documenting her false statements.
We previously documented howGoorevitch routinely parks her car in a parking space atop an oddly shaped bit of sidewalk, painted with a blue stripe around it. It is either a handicapped parking space or an access aisle for a handicapped parking space. It is not a regular parking space. Regardless, Goorevitch has for many years treated this space as “her” space.