Good evening Dr. Renken,
members of the Board, administrators and fellow residents of Freeport.
Approximately 2 years ago I appeared
before you to shed light on an issue that is very close to my heart. The
issue, equal access for the physically challenged and in this case, access
to public buildings. Tonight, I am once again before you in regards to the
Board of Educationís administration building, as well as other buildings
under its control.
It is my understanding that under your
proposed 40 million dollar bond issue, you have not decided to make the
Freeport School district buildings 100% handicapped accessible. I am very
pleased to learn that progress has been made regarding accessibility to
the first floor of the administration building. Unfortunately, it is my
further understanding that the total situation has not yet been remedied.
Although you may have complied with the letter of the law, it is the
intent of the law that matters the most. It is one thing to be able come
in out of the rain, but itís another to be able to get to your
destination. The second floor of the administration building, that which
houses the offices of the superintendent and the two assistant
superintendents, might very well be someoneís destination.
Letís suppose a physically challenged
person has business on the second floor of the districtís administration
building. How would he or she be accommodated? Perhaps you would use a
first floor meeting room, but only if it wasnít occupied at the time.
Perhaps you would use the office of an employee, who might become annoyed
and disgruntled at the inconvenience. Or perhaps you would conduct
business in the hallway. Believe me when I tell you that I have
experienced all of these situations throughout my lifetime. It is no
picnic. The hallway treatment is the worst and most degrading. I compare
it to being force to ride in the back of the bus. Should a job opening
become available in the offices of one of the assistant superintendents,
you may as well post a notice that reads, Physically challenged need not
In 1865, President Lincoln put forth the
emancipation proclamation and for the next one hundred years the people it
was supposed to help remained 2nd class citizens. Please, donít let the
Americans with disabilities act linger on in the same manner. Ladies and
gentlemen, I think itís a shame when the Board of Education itself needs
to be educated about this. Until someone tries to recreate the master race
again, the physically challenged community is here to stay. Look around
the room. At any time someone here could become disabled. Wouldnít it be
nice to have things in place to assist that person in this district?
In a few short days we will be moving into
the 21st century. The dark ages are well behind us. Letís leave them
there! Always bear in mind that the expense of doing the right thing
tomorrow will be far greater that the cost of doing it today.
I will close with a quote from my previous
address. "Somewhere it should be written: Every new building that
rises, every existing edifice, is a monument to mankind, in as much as it
reflects the attitude, beliefs and standards of its time."
Thank you and good night.
ed. -- Alfred Cimaglia and his wife Judy,
due to bad luck, are both wheel chair bound. Neither one of them can visit
or work on the second floor of the school district administration
building. They have three lovely children and two granddaughters, one
brand new. After
the December 15th school board meeting, I discussed the need to make all
the school districtís buildings 100% handicapped accessible with Board
VP Renken. While Renken agreed that it was important, he would still not
commit to making them 100% handicapped accessible now. -- LILKER