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One of the newest high schools in San Diego Unified is not easily accessible to the disabled, according to a civil rights complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education in January.

Getting wheelchairs to the lower level of the multi-tiered Lincoln High School is prohibitively difficult, said Jackie Husson, vice president of the Down Syndrome Association of San Diego. Husson wrote that the elevator leading to the lower level is located inside a gym that is usually locked, and instead of giving staffers a key, Lincoln has asked special education staffers to bring students around the campus, exiting and re-entering the gated facility through padlocks.

Husson, whose son has Down syndrome, does not currently have children at the school, but learned about the problem through other parents of children with disabilities.

“It’s not only time-consuming and a long walk. Some of these children are runners,” Husson said in a July interview. “Trying to hold on to a student and push a wheelchair, then unlock these padlocks — it’s unbelievable to me.”

Access for the disabled has been a longstanding issue in San Diego Unified schools. A bond on the November ballot, Proposition S, would provide approximately $230 million to remodel high schools such as Crawford, where the bleachers and some bathrooms are inaccessible. The total cost of making all San Diego Unified schools completely accessible has been estimated at $800 million.

EMILY ALPERT

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