Legislature may exempt high school press boxes from disability rules

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
jburchette@salisburypost.comState legislation could allow use of the press box at Carson High School even though it doesn’t comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
N.C. Rep. Fred Steen said he is looking at the possibility of introducing a statewide bill to exempt press boxes from the federal law.
Steen said he has been contacted by school officials and members of the Carson Boosters Club seeking a way around the regulations.
Press boxes built prior to 2006 are apparently grandfathered and not required to have wheelchair accessibility.
Under current state building codes’ interpretation of the federal law, an elevator would have to be installed to the Carson press box, which is 30 feet high.
Steen has talked with officials in the N.C. Department of Insurance and other state agencies about the impact of a statewide bill.
At this point, Steen said, it appears a statewide bill could open school systems to federal lawsuits.
Steen also noted the Obama administration is reviewing some aspects of the law, including whether a press box should fall in the category of typical public facilities.
But Steen said he hasn’t entirely ruled out out introducing a statewide bill in an attempt to help Carson and other new schools across the state.
“We’ve still got another couple of weeks” before the deadline to file bills, he said.
“The press box has been an ongoing issue since the campus was built,” Carson High Principal Henry Kluttz said Monday.
Kluttz said the original press box was eliminated, along with around $2 million in other cuts, to get the school within budget.
The school ended up with an elevated platform accessible by stairs. The Boosters Club enclosed it and added a roof.
Kluttz said he is not aware of a high school press box with an elevator.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254.