Federal Court Approves Settlement Providing Accessible Restroom and Other Accommodations to NYC Educator

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Symbol of a wheelchair user in motion
Symbol of a wheelchair user in motion (via Wikimedia)

 

December 2, 2021 – New York, NY – The New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) will provide desperately needed reasonable accommodations for a Bronx middle school teacher, according to an offer of judgment approved by the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York earlier this week. Read the approved judgment here.

This judgment concludes the federal lawsuit filed in March 2021 by Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), a national nonprofit legal center, against the largest public school district in the nation, the New York City Department of Education (DOE). The lawsuit challenged the DOE’s failure to provide a Bronx middle school teacher with necessary and reasonable accommodations as required under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the New York City Human Rights Law. 

Dayniah Manderson, a tenured English teacher who has over 15 years of teaching experience in New York City public schools, uses an electric wheelchair and had been unable to use a restroom at her middle school building in the Bronx for the past eight years due to the DOE’s failure to provide a facility that meets her access needs.

Per the court-sanctioned judgment, the DOE will:

  • Provide seat risers enabling Ms. Manderson to use the restroom safely at work;
  • Commit to maintaining and promptly repairing the restroom’s automatic door opener;
  • Commit to ensuring that Ms. Manderson has access to an unobstructed and secure evacuation space in the event of an emergency, and to training DOE staff regarding maintaining this clear path of travel;
  • Allow Ms. Manderson’s students to write in online journals so that she does not have to physically carry up to 90 journals home from work.

Dayniah Manderson expressed, “Small steps are key to lasting change.  The NYCDOE has done just that; taken a small step in creating a more equitable and safe work environment for people with disabilities.  Correcting the oppressive systems within public education doesn’t happen at the snap of a finger, but this judgment is a step in the right direction.”

Emily Seelenfreund, a Staff Attorney at DRA, said, “Ms. Manderson’s skills inside the classroom benefit her students tremendously. We are thrilled that the DOE is providing the necessary reasonable accommodations so that Ms. Manderson can focus on educating and not the accessibility barriers that have unjustly burdened her for far too long.”

About Disability Rights Advocates
Founded in 1993, Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) is the leading national nonprofit disability rights legal center. Its mission is to advance equal rights and opportunity for people with all types of disabilities nationwide. DRA represents people with the full spectrum of disabilities in complex, system-change, class action cases. DRA is proud to have upheld the promise of the ADA since our inception. Thanks to DRA’s precedent-setting work, people with disabilities across the country have dramatically improved access to health care, employment, transportation, education, disaster preparedness planning, voting and housing. For more information, visit www.dralegal.org.

Contacts

Emily Seelenfreund: eseelenfreund@dralegal.org 510-529-3429

Rebecca Sobie: rsobie@dralegal.org 332-217-2350