WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced a comprehensive settlement agreement with McNeese State University and the Board of Supervisors of the University of Louisiana System under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The settlement agreement resolves a compliance review initiated by the United States in 2008. The United States initiated an investigation of the university after the state attorney general’s office took the position – in private ADA litigation against the campus – that it was not required to have an accessible toilet room in its primary student union building. Under the agreement, McNeese, a public university located in Lake Charles, La., will continue its efforts to come into compliance with the access provisions of Title II of the ADA. The university will take a number of steps to improve access for students, visitors and employees with disabilities including:
- Bring all newly constructed facilities into compliance with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design;
- Develop and implement a campus wide Physical Access Plan to bring all covered facilities into compliance with the terms of this agreement and Title II of the ADA. The Physical Access Plan will include specific remedial actions and time tables to ensure that the university’s programs, services and activities afford program access by no later than Sept. 1, 2016;
- Display information on its website about disability access and create and/or update its campus-wide emergency evacuation, sheltering, and shelter-in-place plans for individuals with disabilities; and
- Designate an ADA coordinator, to ensure that the university meets the terms of this Agreement and the requirements of the ADA.
In addition to the specific remedial work required by this agreement, the board of supervisors (in conjunction with the Louisiana Division of Administration/Office of Facility Planning) has commenced procedural changes to emphasize ADA accessibility rules and regulations for capital outlay projects for the University of Louisiana System.
"Full access to all programs and services is a civil right enjoyed by all, including individuals with disabilities. We are pleased that McNeese is taking steps to ensure that individuals with disabilities are guaranteed full access to its programs, services and activities, and we applaud the board of supervisors for taking steps to ensure access at all of the University of Louisiana campuses," said Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
"This a positive move by McNeese and the board of supervisors. Their efforts reflect a commitment to ensuring that all individuals with disabilities have full access to the university," said Stephanie A. Finley, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana."
It is a top priority of the U.S. Attorney’s Office to enforce the laws that guarantee that persons with disabilities have equal opportunity to pursue their education."
The ADA protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in all activities of state and local government entities, including those activities housed in public schools and universities. For more information about the ADA call the department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TDD), or access the ADA website at www.ada.gov