School Bus For Child With Disability Poses Safety ‘Threat,’ HOA Says
PORTLAND, Ore. — Lawyers for Oregon Sen. Jackie Winters and the Salem homeowners board on which she serves say that door-to-door school bus service for a girl with disabilities posed a “direct threat to the safety” of other residents, according to a new court filing.
The girl’s family filed a federal lawsuit against the Golf Course Estates Homeowners Association and its board members in May, arguing their decision to bar the school bus from entering the subdivision violated state and federal fair housing laws.
In a response filed Aug. 24, lawyers for the homeowners association said the group could legally prohibit the bus service because it threatened other residents’ safety and could cause property damage. The filing did not specify what safety risks the bus service posed.
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“The accommodation sought by plaintiffs constituted a direct threat to the safety of (Golf Course Estates) residents, and/or would result in substantial physical damage to the property of others, exempting it from Federal Fair Housing Act and Oregon Fair Housing Act requirements,” the lawyers wrote.
Erika Hernandez and Paolo Regalado filed the lawsuit after the association board voted to prohibit school buses from entering the subdivision. The Salem-Keizer School District was directed, instead, to pick up the child on heavily traveled River Road South, court documents show.
The couple’s lawsuit says the school district provides transportation to and from school due to their daughter’s “disability and the associated concern that she may run into the street.” The filing alleges the board’s actions violate state and federal fair housing laws, which require that people with disabilities be afforded with reasonable accommodations.
Winters is the ranking Republican in the Oregon Senate, and in 2011 she led the caucus in pushing for the attorney general and labor commissioner to enforce the state’s fair housing law after The Oregonian/Oregonlive reported that the city of Portland failed to act on race-based discrimination detailed in an audit.
A spokeswoman for Senate Republicans could not immediately be reached.
© 2018 The Oregonian
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