SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
BETWEEN
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
AND
THE ARIZONA INTERSCHOLASTIC ASSOCIATION, INC.
UNDER THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT


    I. Background

  1. This matter originated with a complaint filed under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. 12181-12189, and its implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 36, with the United States Department of Justice ("United States") against the Arizona Interscholastic Association, Inc. ("AIA"). The complainant alleges that AIA discriminated on the basis of disability against an individual with a disability by refusing to permit the use of a sign language interpreter during tennis matches.
  2. The Attorney General is authorized to enforce Title III of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. 12188(b). The Attorney General may commence a civil action to enforce Title III in any situation where he has reason to believe a pattern or practice of discrimination exists or a matter of general public importance is raised. 42 U.S.C. 12188(b)(1)(B).
  3. Title III of the ADA prohibits public accommodations from discriminating against an individual on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of the public accommodation. 42 U.S.C. 12182(a); 28 C.F.R. 36.201(a).
  4. Such discrimination includes:
    1. a failure to provide an individual with a disability with an equal opportunity to benefit from the goods, services, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of the public accommodation;
    2. a failure to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures, when such modifications are necessary to avoid discrimination unless the entity can demonstrate that making such modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of the good, service, facility, privilege, advantage, or accommodation being offered; and
    3. a failure to take such steps as may be necessary to ensure that no individual with a disability is excluded, denied services, segregated or otherwise treated differently than other individuals because of the absence of auxiliary aids and services, unless the entity can demonstrate that taking such steps would fundamentally alter the nature of the good, service, facility, privilege, advantage, or accommodation being offered or would result in an undue burden. 42 U.S.C. 12182(b)(1)(A)(ii), (b)(2)(A)(ii) & (iii); 28 C.F.R. 36.201, 36.302 & 36.303.
  5. Ensuring that individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can fully and equally participate in interscholastic extracurricular activities is an issue of general public importance. 42 U.S.C. 12188(b); 28 C.F.R. 36.503(b).
  6. II. Investigation

  7. AIA leases or operates places of recreation for purposes of interscholastic tennis tournaments and is, therefore a place of public accommodation subject to the nondiscrimination mandates of Title III of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. 12181(7)(C), (I), (L); 28 C.F.R. 36.104.
  8. AIA fully cooperated during the course of this investigation. Following investigation, the United States has made the following factual determinations:
    1. Kiara Chapple is deaf and uses sign language for communication.
    2. For effective communication with Ms. Chapple during a tennis match, a qualified sign language interpreter is required.
    3. Ms. Chapple played on the Desert Ridge High School's tennis team, and prior to the tournament at issue in this investigation, sign language interpreting services had been provided during all school-sponsored tennis matches.
    4. During an AIA-sponsored tournament, the AIA Director, in response to an opposing coach's protest, prohibited a sign language interpreter from providing interpreting services during the game, except between the sets or before and after the match.
    5. After the AIA Director's ruling, Ms. Chapple was unable to communicate effectively with her partner and opposing players during the game.
  9. AIA maintains that it is, and has always been, committed to full compliance with the ADA.
  10. AIA denies any and all allegations of discrimination and disputes the findings and factual determinations of the United States. Further, the AIA denies that it violated Title III of the ADA, or discriminated against Ms. Chapple because of her disability.
  11. AIA has agreed to implement policies and procedures, set forth below, that are designed to afford individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing a benefit equal to that provided to others, and to ensure that appropriate auxiliary aids and services will be provided where necessary to afford effective communication with individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing during AIA-sponsored tennis matches. This Settlement Agreement shall not be construed as an admission of liability by AIA.
  12. In consideration of the terms of this Agreement, and in particular the provisions in Sections III-V, the Attorney General of the United States agrees to refrain from undertaking further action in this matter, except as provided in Paragraph 20.
  13. In order to secure compliance by voluntary means and avoid the costs of litigation, the parties agree to resolve this matter as set forth below.
  14. III. Terms of Agreement

  15. At the next AIA Board of Directors meeting, AIA shall amend the Tournament Guidelines to include the following language:
    An interpreter shall be allowed to stand or sit at a side of the playing area so as to facilitate effective communication among the players and others.
  16. Within four (4) weeks of the effective date of this Agreement, AIA shall designate one person as AIA's ADA Coordinator ("ADA Coordinator"). This individual shall have knowledge of and receive training about Title III of the ADA, shall attend the ADA Title III training described in Paragraph 17 below, and shall, at least once a year, review AIA's compliance with this Agreement, Title III of the ADA (42 U.S.C. 12181-12189), the regulation enforcing Title III of the ADA (28 C.F.R. Part 36), and the ADA Title III Technical Assistance Manual. The ADA Coordinator's contact information shall be included in the AIA Guidelines and posted on AIA's website.
  17. The ADA Coordinator shall ensure that auxiliary aids and services, including qualified sign language interpreters, are available to players who are deaf or hard of hearing. The ADA Coordinator shall also be responsible for ensuring that AIA responds promptly and properly to any request for reasonable modification or auxiliary aid.
  18. When AIA receives a request for a reasonable modification or an auxiliary aid, the ADA Coordinator shall communicate directly with the requesting player, or the requesting player's representative, to discuss the request. If, after careful consideration of the request, AIA denies a request for modification or auxiliary aid, the ADA Coordinator shall document the denial and the reason for the denial. The ADA Coordinator shall make every effort to work with the player to find an alternative that will allow the player to participate fully and equally in AIA-sponsored games.
  19. Within three (3) months of the date of this Agreement, AIA shall schedule training on Title III of the ADA for all members of the AIA Board of Directors to be held at the next Board Meeting. The training shall address ADA compliance regarding individuals with disabilities including, but not limited to, reasonable modification requests and requests for auxiliary aids, including qualified interpreters.
  20. Within four (4) weeks of the first Board Meeting following the effective date of this Agreement, AIA shall notify, via email, AIA officials and participating coaches of the above changes to AIA Guidelines and tournament registration materials. AIA shall also post such notification on its website within two (2) weeks of the effective date of this Agreement.
  21. Six (6) months following the effective date of this Agreement, and every six months thereafter for the duration of this Agreement, AIA shall provide a written report to the United States regarding its efforts to comply with this Agreement. The report should describe each request by a player with a disability, or their representative, for a reasonable modification or an auxiliary aid, and AIA's response to such request. The report should also include names and contact information for the individuals involved in making the request and all AIA Officials who participated in any decision-making related to responding to the request. Finally, the report shall contain a written statement of any decision on requests for auxiliary aids or services or modifications and, in the case of a denial of any modification or auxiliary aid, an explanation of the reasons for such denial. The Department may request to review relevant documents underlying a report and AIA agrees to provide such documents promptly upon request. AIA is authorized to provide this information without medical releases, as, pursuant to 45 C.F.R. 164(e)(3)(i)(B), the releases are unnecessary where the information is sought by Department to determine ADA compliance.
  22. V. Enforcement

  23. The United States may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the United States believes that AIA has failed to comply in a timely manner with any requirement of this Agreement, the United States will so notify AIA in writing and will attempt to resolve the issue or issues in good faith. If the United States is unable to reach a satisfactory resolution of the issue or issues raised within thirty (30) days of the date it provides notice to AIA, the United States may institute a civil action in federal district court to enforce the terms of this Agreement or the requirements of Title III of the ADA.
  24. Failure by the United States to enforce this Agreement with regard to any deadline or any provision herein will not be construed as a waiver of the United States' right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
  25. A copy of this document or any information contained in it will be made available by AIA or the United States to any person on request.
  26. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the United States and AIA on the matters raised herein, and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement (including its Attachments, which are hereby incorporated by reference), will be enforceable. This Agreement does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other federal law. This Agreement does not affect the AIA's continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of the ADA.
  27. This Agreement shall be binding on AIA, its agents and employees.
  28. This Agreement will remain in effect for three (3) years.
  29. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.

 

FOR THE ARIZONA INTERSCHOLASTIC ASSOCIATION, INC.

FOR THE UNITED STATES

THOMAS E. PEREZ
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights

By:_________________

CHARLES SCHMIDT, CAA
President, Arizona Interscholastic Association
7007 N. 18th Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85020


EVE HILL
Senior Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General

ALLISON J. NICHOL, Chief
KATHLEEN P. WOLFE
Special Litigation Counsel
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division

 

__________________________
ROBERT J. MATHER, Trial Attorney
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20530
Telephone: (202) 307-2236
Fax: (202) 616-6862
robert.mather@usdoj.gov

 

Dated:  

 

Dated: March 30. 2012

 


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