Justice Dept. investigating Cannon schools

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In response to a complaint, the U.S. Department of Justice (the "Department") is investigating a complaint that the Cannon County School District is in the process of constructing a sports facility on county-owned property located at 10 Park Circle, Woodbury, Tennessee, which is not in compliance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the "ADA"), and/or the Department's implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 35. Pursuant to the ADA, the Department is authorized to investigate alleged violations of Title II.

At the same time, Cannon County Director of Schools William Curtis has responded to multiple questions about the facility he received from a Cannon County commissioner, Jeanine Floyd of the First District. It is not known if Floyd is the person who filed the complaint with the Justice Dept.

Curtis sent the following e-mail to all commissioners and the media on Thursday:

"Cannon County Commissioners,

Commissioner Jeanine Floyd recently (Monday, April 22nd, 2019) sent me a list of questions concerning the CCHS Baseball Facility. I believe that each Commissioner would be interested in our answers to these questions.

Thank you for your recent set of questions. I would like to apologize for the delay, as I wanted to be very specific with researched answers, and our Budget Director was out of the office for a meeting yesterday. I will be glad to furnish you specifics as it relates to the CCHS Baseball Facility project.

FLOYD QUESTION: 'These plans are very hard to read. Do have anything more specific?'

RESPONSE: This is what the architect completed for us. This can be downloaded and then zoom in for closer inspection.

FLOYD QUESTION: 'Also, do the locker rooms have showers or bathrooms? Why is there just one locker room? I thought this would host traveling teams as well.'

RESPONSE: Restrooms are included in the plans, however showers are not part of this plan. Athletes most always shower at home after the games, which is not just Baseball, but includes all sports, with the exception of Football. Visiting Baseball Teams are usually dressed upon arrival, however, restrooms and additional locker rooms and restroom facilities are available at the Cannon County Community Center as suggested by the County Commissioners at a previous meeting. CCHS Baseball Coach Colin Jones has been provided a key for this purpose. As a High School Baseball Parent and former broadcaster of 4 years, I know of NO facility in the Upper Cumberland Region that allows use of their practice facility by any visiting teams.

FLOYD QUESTION: 'Don't you have more specific plans? These plans do not look complete as there are no specifications for height, width, wall size, measurements of doors, electrical and elevations.'

RESPONSE: This is what the architect completed for the CCHS Baseball Facility and was used by Mr. Russell Davenport of DavCo Construction Company during the construction of the facility. Please contact Mr. Davenport at davco@dtccom.net or phone 615- 849-6836 for additional specifications. A Certificate of Elevation was required by the Town of Woodbury Planning Commission and was generously provided as a donation to the project by Mr. Michael C. Roberts, RLC of Robert Land Surveying of Woodbury, Tennessee. A copy of this Certificate of Elevation is attached to this letter.

FLOYD QUESTION: 'Are girls going to be able to use this? Are you favoring boys sports over girls sports?'

RESPONSE: Procedures are currently being discussed and analyzed by CCHS Athletic Director Matt Cagle and CCHS Baseball Coach Colin Jones to permit use of the facility by CCHS Softball and Cannon County Middle School Softball Teams, as well as, the Cannon County Middle School Baseball Team when the facility is available. Additionally, the Cannon County Schools Veterans Gym will now be available MORE to all the above teams (CCHS Softball, CCMS Softball, CCMS Baseball) since CCHS Baseball has an indoor facility. There is NO "favoring" ANY Team over another one.

FLOYD QUESTION: 'How much money is being spent?'

RESPONSE: CCHS Baseball Account is running all expenditures through their account at CCHS. The expected expenditure for this project after everything is completed is estimated at approximately $48,000.00. All of which was donated by the donors, Citizens of Cannon County, and fundraising efforts by the CCHS Baseball Program.

FLOYD QUESTION: 'Have you gone over your $20K allotted for architects this year? Are there encumbrances on that line item.'

RESPONSE: The architect fee for the CCHS Baseball Facility was $0.00. The architect service drawing was donated by the Town of Woodbury through the city architect as their contribution to the project. As to the Budget Line Item 76100-304 (Architect's Fees) it has NOT gone over the Budgeted Amount of $20,000.00. The current amount is $18,747.45. There are NO encumbrances on that line item.

FLOYD QUESTION: 'Has the Fire Marshall approve these plans?'

RESPONSE: The Tennessee State Building Inspector for this region has inspected the footer, slab, and roughed in plumbing, which all passed his inspection. He is in the process of inspecting the framing and the electrical wiring. The Tennessee State Fire Marshall for this region, Jennifer Harmon, was contacted and sent the architectural drawings. She stated that one pull station is required at any exit, approved fire extinguishers be placed in the Locker Room and Practice Area, and that Exit Signs with Emergency Lighting be installed.

FLOYD QUESTION: 'Are wood or steel 2x4's used? Will there be heating and air in this building? How are these plans showing that this facility is ADA compliant?'

RESPONSE: Wood 2X6's were used on the outer stud walls and Wood 2X4's used on interior walls, as well as, engineered stamped trusses. Arrangements are currently being made for air conditioning and heating for this facility. Architect has reviewed these plans for ADA Compliance, all doors are 3 feet wide, and the bathroom plans are drawn out as handicap accessible. Mr. Russell Davenport of DavCo Construction is a licensed contractor and is knowledgeable via his training and construction experience on ADA Compliance.

FLOYD QUESTION: 'Did you use any county money to fund this building project?'

RESPONSE: The Cannon County Board of Education voted previously to fund $14,400.00 to pay for the Concrete on the facility from Capital Outlay Account # 76100. There was a slight overage on the concrete of $791.00 that the School System also paid on the project from this account.

I received an email on Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019 from the US Department of Justice, Assistant District Attorney Kara F. Sweet for the Middle District of Tennessee regarding an ADA complaint that was received by their office. I am attaching a copy of this letter addressed to me. Here are the first two paragraphs regarding the complaint:

The complete copy of the letter including the10 points that the Cannon County Board of Education will reply to is attached. I contacted the Cannon County Board of Education's Legal Counsel, Mr. Michael R. Jennings of Jennings Law in Lebanon, TN on Tuesday evening, April 23rd, 2019 to address our response to the Department of Justice - Middle TN District regarding this ADA Compliance issue. Also, please see the attachment received with the email of ADA Update: A Primer for State and Local Governments. This booklet could be utilized as a resource for each Commissioner and specifically the ADA Committee.

I appreciate the opportunity to answer your questions. The Cannon County High School Baseball Team Boosters will be conducting a fundraiser on Friday, April 26th, 2019 at the front entrance of the Cannon County Courthouse from 11:00 AM - 2:30 PM featuring a Taco Salad lunch, drink, and cookie for $7.00. Please come out and support these student athletes!

As the Chief Executive Officer employed by the Cannon County Board of Education, my role is to serve as the spokesman for the School System and Board, and to promote our schools' MISSION - "Preparing All Students for Their Future" through our VISION - "The New E3 - Engaged in Excellence Every Day." I am doing just that, and asking for your support of those citizens that are in our schools, which you were elected to represent. Working together we can make a difference in the lives of EVERY student in Cannon County Schools, and have the best possible school system for generations to come."

Following is the letter Curtis received from the Justice Dept.:

Mr. William F. Curtis
Director of Schools
Cannon County School District
301 West Main Street
Woodbury, TN 37190

Re: Americans with Disabilities Act Investigation - DJ# 204-71-76

Dear Director Curtis:

The U.S. Department of Justice (the "Department") is investigating a complaint that the Cannon County School District is in the process of constructing a sports facility on county-owned property located at 10 Park Circle, Woodbury, Tennessee (the "Facility"), which is not in compliance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134 (the "ADA"), and/or the Department's implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 35. Pursuant to the ADA, the Department is authorized to investigate alleged violations of Title II. 28 C.F.R. § 35.172. We also are authorized to take appropriate action, including filing suit in federal court to compel the enforcement of Title II of the ADA if voluntary compliance is not achieved, as well as to seek injunctive relief and monetary damages as appropriate. See 28 C.F.R. § 35.174.

The complaint alleges that the Facility does not comply with ADA accessibility requirements, including as to ramps, restrooms, locker rooms, parking, braille indicators and other accommodations that are required by the ADA. See 28 C.F.R. §§ 35.151; 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. We understand that the Facility is intended to be used by the Cannon County High School's baseball team, as well as for other events.

Among other things, Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by public entities, and the ADA requires that newly constructed buildings, such as the Facility, comply with certain standards for accessible design. The text of the ADA, the Department's regulation, and many technical assistance publications can be accessed on our ADA Home Page at www.ada.gov. <http://www.ada.gov>. We have attached for your reference a publication from the Department providing guidance for State and Local Governments on the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

As part of our investigation, we have been informed that you are aware of the ADA requirements and potential violations as related to the Facility. We further understand that you have indicated alternatively that the Facility is not required to comply with the ADA and that the Facility is ADA-compliant, without providing any specificity.

The Department would like to resolve this matter expeditiously, and requests that you provide responses to the following, in writing, within 30 days of the date of this letter:

1. The name, address, and telephone number of the individual to whom this office should direct any future questions and correspondence concerning this matter, if to someone other than you. If you are represented by an attorney in this matter, please provide the attorney's name, address, and telephone number. Please also confirm whether the individual has settlement authority.

2. Whether Cannon County receives any federal funding, and if so, the name of the federal agency that provides the funding, and the name(s) of all programs that receive that funding or to which any of that funding is distributed;

3. The date construction of the Facility commenced and the current status of construction;

4. The purpose of the Facility and its intended use;

5. Photographs, videotapes, architectural plans, other materials, and any narrative or description that would assist us in understanding the configuration of (a) the entrance(s) into the Facility, including the number of steps to each entrance; description of the main entrance door hardware, and if a ramp is provided, a description of the ramp, including length and slope; (b) number of wheelchair seating spaces and companion seating spaces; (c) configuration of dressing, fitting, and locker rooms; (d) accessible routes; and (e) public restrooms, including the width of the door, amount of force required to open the door, and amount of turn around space in the restrooms;

6. A description of the number of floors within the Facility and the offices, programs, and services available on the various floors;

7. A description of how wheelchair access is provided to all levels of the Facility, including stairs, elevators, ramps, and lifts;

8. A description of how the parking area and grounds surrounding the Facility comply with the ADA accessibility requirements;

9. Any steps you have taken to ensure that the Facility complies with the ADA; and

10. Your response to the allegations of the complaint set forth above and any additional information you consider relevant to resolution of the issues raised herein.

Please be advised that to the extent that you intend to take any corrective action in response to the ADA complaint addressed herein, you should consult with this Office to ensure that any proposed modifications comply with Title II of the ADA and its architectural standards. Please note that any modifications you undertake that are not in compliance with ADA requirements may need to be redone before this complaint can be resolved.

Please be further advised that it is unlawful to retaliate, discriminate or coerce any individual who has opposed any act or practice made unlawful under the ADA, and that such behavior would constitute an additional ADA violation.

We look forward to your prompt and complete response to the issues raised herein and are hopeful that we may resolve this matter without the need for litigation.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the above, please feel free to contact me at (615) 401-6598.

United States Attorney for the
Middle District of Tennessee
Assistant United States Attorney

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