1. This matter was initiated by a complaint, received February 2, 1993, filed with the United States Department of Justice (the Department), against the Stowe Township Board of Commissioners, Pennsylvania, (the Commissioners). The complaint was investigated by the Department under the authority granted by section 308 (b) of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12131-12134. The complainants allege that, public meetings of the Commissioners are held on the second floor of the Municipal Building, an inaccessible location. Therefore, the Board of Commissioners fails to make its meetings readily accessible to individuals with disabilities in violation of the ADA.
2. The Board of Commissioners deny that the Commissioners or staff acted unlawfully with respect to the complainants. Since this complaint was filed, the Board of Commissioners maintains that it has attempted to accommodate the complainants by relocating meetings from October 1993 until September 1995, to an accessible location. For that time period the Commissioners held their regular monthly meetings at the local Church Gymnasium. However, because of difficulties with scheduling conflicts, heating the gym, acoustics, complaints from the public, and an absence of individuals with disabilities, the Commissioners decided to return meetings to the Municipal Building. In addition the Commissioners have installed an audio/visual system on the accessible lower floor of the municipal building which will allow individuals with disabilities to monitor and participate in public meetings.
3. The parties have agreed to settle this matter without resolving the factual and legal dispute regarding the lawfulness of the Board of Commissioners actions. The Department of Justice is authorized under 28 C.F.R. Part 35, Subpart F, to investigate fully the allegations of the complainants in this matter and to determine if the Board of Commissioners is in compliance with title II of the ADA and the Justice Department's implementing regulation, issue findings, and, where appropriate, negotiate and secure voluntary compliance agreements.
Furthermore, the Attorney General is authorized under 42 U.S.C. § 12133, to bring a civil action enforcing title II of the ADA should the Department of Justice fail to secure voluntary compliance pursuant to Subpart F. In consideration of the terms of this Agreement as set forth below, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation or from filing a civil suit in this matter.
4. The parties to this Settlement Agreement (Agreement) are the United States of America and the Board of Commissioners for Stowe Township, Pennsylvania.
5. This Agreement does not constitute an admission of liability and/or fault on the part of the Board of Commissioners. The parties enter into this Agreement in order to avoid litigation and hereby agree as follows:
6. Title II of the ADA and its implementing regulation prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities. 42 U.S.C. § 12131 ; 28 C.F.R. § 35.101.
7. The ADA applies to the Board of Commissioners because it is a public entity as defined in the Department of Justice's regulation implementing title II. 28 C.F.R. § 35.104.
8. The Board of Commissioners agrees to take the following actions within 15 days of the date of this Agreement:
a. The Board of Commissioners shall develop and post in a prominent location of its public areas a written policy statement indicating procedures available for persons with disabilities to a obtain reasonable modifications to Township policies, practices, and procedures.
b. The Board of Commissioners shall adopt and publish a procedure providing for relocation of all public meetings to an accessible location with reasonable notification (not more than one week notice). The policy shall provide that the Board of Commissioners will make reasonable efforts to relocate meetings when less than one week's notice is given.
c. The Board of Commissioners shall make use of the audio/visual system at all public meetings in the Municipal Building.
9. The Department may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department believes that this Agreement or any provision thereof has been violated, it may institute a civil action in the Federal District Court for Pennsylvania, or any other appropriate Federal district court. The Department of Justice may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department of Justice believes that this Agreement or any requirement thereof has been violated, it may institute civil action seeking specific performance of the provisions of this Agreement in an appropriate Federal court.
10. This Agreement is a public document. A copy of this Agreement or any information contained herein may be made available to any person. The Department shall provide a copy of this Agreement to any person upon request.
11. This Agreement shall become effective as of the date of the last signature below.
12. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties 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 shall be enforceable. This Agreement is limited to the facts as set forth in paragraphs 1 through 3, and it does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other Federal, State or local law.
For the United States:
Isabelle Katz Pinzler
Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights
John L. Wodatch, Chief
Allison Nichol, Deputy Chief
Ron Whisonant, Investigator
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 66738
Washington, D.C. 20035-6738
For the Board of Commissioners, Stowe Township, Pennsylvania:
Mr. Frank Carpelloti, Chairman
Stowe Township Board of Commissioners
February 7, 2001