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WOLFF v. SOUTH COLONIE CENT. SCH. DIST.

March 25, 1982

Phyllis WOLFF, as Parent and Natural Guardian of Jean Wolff, A Minor, Plaintiffs,
v.
SOUTH COLONIE CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MINER

I.

Plaintiffs, Phyllis Wolff and her handicapped infant daughter Jean, bring this action under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794, to enjoin the South Colonie Central School District from preventing Jean's participation in an upcoming school-sponsored trip to Spain. Jurisdiction is pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Plaintiff's application for a preliminary injunction was consolidated, by stipulation of the parties, with the trial of the action on the merits pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(a)(2). *fn1" The following are the findings of fact and conclusions of law mandated by Fed.R.Civ.P. 52.

II.

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. Plaintiff, Jean Wolff, a 151/2 year old student attending the 10th grade at South Colonie High School, has a congenital limb deficiency. Her legs are approximately 1 foot in length; her right arm has been amputated above the elbow and fitted with a prosthetic device. At the end of her left arm, which is shorter than normal, are two partially functional digits. Jean is approximately 31/2 feet in height.

 2. Defendant South Colonie Central School District (hereinafter "School District"), a municipal corporation organized pursuant to the laws of the State of New York, operates the high school Jean attends and is an entity receiving federal financial assistance.

 3. In September, 1979, plaintiff Phyllis Wolff contacted School District officials concerning Jean's attendance in the South Colonie school system and requested that a van or automobile be supplied to transport Jean to and from school. She also requested that an "aide" be supplied to help Jean in school to perform her daily school activities.

 4. At a meeting of the South Colonie Board of Education on September 18, 1979, a resolution was passed approving the creation of a 61/2 hour school monitor position (hereinafter "aide") at the Sand Creek Jr. High School to provide for Jean's individual safety and welfare. In addition, arrangements were made for a special van to transport Jean to and from school. The School District has continued to supply the special van and aide during Jean's attendance at the High School and plaintiff Phyllis Wolff has not applied to discontinue these services.

 5. The special van, which has no riders other than Jean, transports Jean daily from the door of her house to the school entrance. The van is specially equipped with lower than usual access steps.

 6. The aide, Mrs. Dorothy Kulzer, meets Jean at the entrance of the school. During the school day she takes Jean's books out of a locker and carries them from class to class. She also protects Jean from inadvertent harm from her fellow classmates by walking behind Jean and to her left, thereby blocking any onrushing students. In addition, the aide guards against slipping or falling when Jean ascends or descends stairways.

 7. However, there are occasions when students have bumped into Jean in the hallways during the passing of classes as well as occasions when she has stumbled and fallen. Jean is allowed to use a "short cut" to class through normally restricted hallways. She usually is late for the class to which she has the longest walk with a stairway en route.

 8. In order to climb stairs, Jean must place one foot on the next level step and then, using the bannister for leverage, haul the rest of her body up to that level. This procedure is repeated until she reaches the top. Jean descends stairs in the same manner, hopping from stair to stair if no bannister is available.

 9. Jean is capable of walking at a speed of approximately one half that of a normal adult for at least three miles, and is capable of "running" for between 5 and 10 minutes. On a short field trip through the Pine Bush, Jean was unable to keep up with the class.

 10. This Court has had the opportunity to observe Jean during the course of these proceedings and notes the difficulties she encountered with such tasks as seating herself on the witness chair. Otherwise, Jean appears to be above average in ...


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