Settlement Agreement between
the United States of America and Harrison County, Mississippi

On July 26, 2007, the Department of Justice entered into a Settlement Agreement with Harrison County, Mississippi, under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134, and the Department’s implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 35. The Settlement Agreement is the 154th agreement reached under Project Civic Access, a wide-ranging initiative to improve state and local government compliance with the requirements of the ADA. The United States initiated this matter in the spirit of federal/local government cooperation to provide technical assistance to the County in complying with its obligations under title II and not as a result of a complaint alleging violations of title II by the County.

In 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita produced wide-spread flooding in Harrison County, Mississippi. As a result, many County facilities were damaged or destroyed, and extensive construction and rehabilitation of buildings and facilities are expected throughout the County over the next several years. The Settlement Agreement is designed to facilitate the County’s compliance with the requirements of Title II of the ADA with respect to (1) the construction of new facilities to replace those that were destroyed or damaged; (2) the rehabilitation of facilities that were damaged; (3) the reintroduction of programs, services and activities to buildings and facilities closed because of damage; and (4) the development of an emergency operations plan that addresses the needs of persons with disabilities.

The Settlement Agreement will help ensure that the new construction of public buildings by the County will be ADA compliant. It also provides for certain training and technical assistance to help ensure that County building officials, architects, engineers, contractors, and others involved in rebuilding public and private facilities in Harrison County are meeting their obligations to design, construct, and alter buildings and facilities so they are accessible to people with disabilities. In addition, the Civil Rights Division will provide the County with technical assistance to ensure that the County’s emergency planning and preparedness include the steps needed to address the needs of persons with disabilities, as required by Title II of the ADA.

The text of the Settlement Agreement specifies the steps that Harrison County will take to ensure access for persons with disabilities to its facilities, programs, services, and activities. Among other things, the County has agreed to:

The Department has agreed to provide technical assistance to assist Harrison County in its efforts to provide facilities that are accessible to persons with disabilities. The Department has agreed to provide:

Finally, the County will provide the Department with the County’s Emergency Operations Plan (“EOP”). The Department will provide comments to the County on modifications required to ensure compliance with title II of the ADA, and the County has agreed to incorporate the Department’s comments into its EOP and ensure that the plan is revised and implemented in full compliance with the ADA.

The Settlement Agreement will remain in effect for four years from July 26, 2007. It is available on the ADA Home Page at www.ada.gov.