Upgrades ordered at APS for disability needs

State says district not compliant with standards

News Photo by Julie Goldberg Alpena High School students work in the school’s welding lab on Tuesday.

ALPENA — Alpena Public Schools must upgrade its Career and Technical Education program to adequately serve students with disabilities, the Michigan Department of Education says.

District officials say they will complete the upgrades at Alpena High School and the district administration building to meet Education Department’s standards.

Mandated upgrades include new parking spaces, lifts or ramps, and other changes, according to documents provided by the district.

The state mandated the fixes after Alpena and surrounding school districts were collectively awarded over $1.9 million in state grants in December for career- and college-ready programs. Matt Poli, director of innovation for APS, said the money for the upgrades will come out of the district’s general fund because the state grant money can’t be used.

It wasn’t immediately clear Tuesday how much the renovations might cost.

The district has already completed some work, but more needs to be completed, Poli said. The district will send photos documenting the work to the state.

At the district administration building, the district must install signage to include a standard handicap-accessible parking space and must create a new designated van-accessible space, must lower items in the bathrooms to the appropriate height, and other changes.

The administration building is included in the plan because if complaints are filed, that’s where people will go, Poli said.

At the high school, the district must install 10 standard handicap-accessible parking spaces and two van-accessible spaces. The district must also install lifts or ramps at both the auto and welding labs, and must install correct signage for bathrooms.

“The only one that we’re going to need some time on is accessibility to both the auto and welding lab,” Poli said. “Right now, the students would have to go outside, in a sense, to use those facilities.”

Poli said the school will help students who need access to the auto and welding labs before lifts or ramps are installed.

The National Center for Educational Statistics says 8.9% of Alpena’s students have a disability.

All projects have to be completed by next summer, Poli said, but the district can receive an extension.

The district Board of Education has to approve the compliance plan at its meeting on Monday.

Julie Goldberg can be reached at 989-358-5688 or jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com. Follow her on Twitter @jkgoldberg12.

Mandated upgrades

A look at the list of projects Alpena Public Schools has to complete for the Michigan Department of Education Office of Career and Technical Education Civil Rights Compliance Plan.

District administration building

∫ One standard handicap-accessible parking space and one van-accessible space.

∫ A hook in girls bathroom stall and a paper towel dispenser, both lowered to 48 inches.

∫ Installation of universal signage for the boys handicap-accessible bathroom.

∫ Pipe cover in boys bathroom for accessible sink area.

Alpena High School

∫ Areas where items prevented students from accessing the sink area in auto lab will remain free of obstructions.

∫ An accessible restroom stall door will have latch that operates with a closed fist.

∫ Girls and boys bathrooms will have pipe coverings installed on accessible sinks.

∫ Installation of 10 standard handicap spaces and two van-accessible spaces.

∫ Lowering the eye wash station in the agriculture room, coat hook and paper towel dispenser in girls bathroom, the dispenser in boys bathroom, the dispenser in the mechatronics room, the first aid kit and soap dispenser in the auto lab, and the paper towel dispenser, fire blanket, and eye wash station in the welding lab all to 48 inches.

∫ Installing universal signage for the girls accessible bathroom.

∫ A paper towel dispenser in the welding lab will be replaced with an automated/hands free device.

∫ Provide mobility access to the auto and welding labs

Source: Alpena Public Schools