SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Department of Justice has reached a settlement pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with Dunlap Community Unit School District No. 323, located in Dunlap, Illinois, ensuring that Banner Elementary School’s outdoor playground is accessible to all children, including children with disabilities.
The settlement agreement resolves an ADA complaint filed by parents of a child with a disability at Banner Elementary. The complaint alleged that a child with a disability was routinely unable to access Banner’s existing playground to play with peers and had to play alone, outside of the play area and separate from peers without disabilities. The complaint prompted an investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. Title II of the ADA prohibits places of public accommodation, including school districts, from discriminating against individuals with disabilities and requires them to remove architectural barriers to access. The ADA requires a school’s outdoor playgrounds to be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.
Under the settlement agreement, the school district has agreed to create a new outdoor playground by integrating new, accessible equipment into the existing area, effectively creating a single outdoor playground with accessible equipment and surfaces. As part of the agreement, the district will also remove all existing barriers to access, including railroad ties and other barriers, as well as remove and replace all existing pea gravel and mulch with ADA-compliant surfaces. Without admitting violating the ADA, the district also agreed to a monetary payment to the parents fully resolving the matter.
“Children and other individuals with disabilities are entitled to full access to our community, including a school’s playground,” said Douglas J. Quivey, Acting United States Attorney for the Central District of Illinois. “This settlement demonstrates the Dunlap Community School District’s commitment to providing equal access to all students it serves. We appreciate both the parents and the School District’s cooperation in resolving this matter and their dedication to ensuring all students enjoy full access. I encourage all school districts in Central Illinois to review their facilities to make sure they are accessible and fully usable by all.”
The settlement was the result of a coordinated effort by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua I. Grant represented the government during the investigation and settlement process. For more information about the ADA, please visit www.ada.gov, or call the Department of Justice’s toll-free information line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TDD). Information about filing a complaint, including instructions for filing a complaint online, can be found at https://www.justice.gov/crt/how-file-complaint.