“For God’s sake, build a ramp!!!”

Sometimes legal advice is influenced by non-legal factors. This is particularly true with regard to school law, where public support for the school district is so important.   Here’s a good example. It must have been sometime in the late 1990s that I got a call from a superintendent and principal regarding the high school graduation which was scheduled for the following week. 

The ceremony was going to be on the football field, where a temporary stage had been constructed. The plan was for the graduates to walk up a few steps to the stage, shake hands with the board president and principal, receive the diploma, and then walk back down to the field. But there was a problem. One student was in a wheelchair. What to do?  Here’s how I sorta remember the conversation:

Law Dawg: Maybe you could get a ramp.

Principal: Not sure about that.  We were thinking maybe the student in the wheelchair could just remain seated and we would call attention to him as we announce his name.

Law Dawg: Well, that’s not what the other kids do.  It would be good if you could get a ramp so he could go across the stage like everyone else. 

Superintendent: I don’t know about that ramp. We were thinking maybe we could have a couple of students lift his wheelchair onto the stage….

Law Dawg: Well, some folks might find that embarrassing. Do you think you could build a ramp?  Do you have a shop class?

Principal: Well, we’re not sure that would work.  Not sure we have enough time or space for a ramp. 

Superintendent: But we’re concerned about it because we think we’re going to get some media coverage due to our graduation speaker.

Dawg: Who’s your speaker?

Principal: Governor Bush.


That’s how I know it was the late 90’s. 


Tomorrow: Toolbox Tuesday!!  Here comes DOE!