A former school board member chastised Limestone County officials for failing to make the South Jefferson Street annex accessible to people with disabilities.

Joel Glaze of Athens was one of three speakers — one of them wheelchair bound — who addressed the matter Thursday at the Limestone County school board meeting.

Glaze, who served as a school board member from 1980 to 1998, said he has tried to get county commissioners to make the annex accessible for two decades.

“It’s been a long, lonely, 20-year battle,” said Glaze, whose wife has multiple sclerosis and is wheelchair bound.

He recalled how several years ago he was about to receive a send off from the school board after 18 years of service. He said no one from the commission showed up to help his wife to the second floor ceremony, despite his requesting help several weeks in advance. He said a high school principal helped him bring his wife to the second floor.

Glaze said he thought things would change when lawmakers passed the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, which made it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities. However, repeated plans to make the South Jefferson Street annex accessible were repeatedly rejected by commissioners due to costs or other reasons. In short, the ADA law was not enough to persuade officials to make changes.

“That, too, has failed due to them ignoring the law and the moral obligation the past 11 years,” Glaze said.

He gave board members a draft of his written complaint to Attorney General Troy King and added that unless he saw officials making headway on the problem by August 1, he would mail it.

“I hope not to have to send it,” he warned. “I’d rather see tax dollars spent here than on litigation.”

An architect and construction manager have been hired to find out if it is feasible to add an elevator to the South Jefferson Street annex.

Glaze suggested that in the meantime the school board use either the basement of the South Jefferson Street annex or the Clinton Street annex, which has an elevator.

With her wheelchair bound younger brother by her side at the meeting, Paula Phillips asked board members to bring their influence to bear in the matter.

Benny Evans lost the use of his legs after a motorcycle accident in 1981.

She recounted how the county’s lack of an elevator in the South Jefferson Street annex prevented Evans from being able to see his daughter, Sarah Evans, receive a poetry award at the May 1 board meeting.

That triggered the complaint from Glaze at Thursday’s board meeting.

Superintendent Barry Carroll, at Mrs. Phillips request, had changed the location of Thursday’s meeting to the Clinton Street annex, which is accessible.

Carroll has said that he would move meetings to provide handicap accessibility anytime it is specifically requested, but it would not be convenient to move every meeting to another location. Carroll has also said that, “We need an elevator desperately. But this is a county commission concern. They own the building.”

At Thursday’s meeting, Phillips said that she does not believe that her brother has been the target of “intentional” discrimination, however, she still wants the problem remedied.

Phillips urged the commission and any other interested public bodies to meet with Larie Ross Hunter, network administrator of the Independent Living Center in Birmingham, with whom she said she could arrange a seminar for early fall. She said Hunter would discuss the ADA and the rights of the handicapped and responsibilities of public officials.

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