Homeowner’s Association Bars School Bus Service To Special Needs Girl

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The girl has an “inability to assess dangers” and may run onto busy streets. But the HOA manager reportedly ordered the bus to pick up the girl on a road with heavy traffic.

 

In a supreme example of lack of compassion and total cruelty, an Oregon homeowner’s association barred a young special needs girl’s school from giving her door-to-door bus service.

Now, the parents of the child are suing Oregon Senate Republican Leader Jackie Winters and the Salem homeowner’s board, on which Winters serves.

The lawsuit, filed by Erika Hernandez and Paolo Regalado, states their daughter “has developmental disabilities and attends a special needs school.” To accommodate her, the Salem-Keizer School District has a plan for the girl that mandates she be provided transportation directly in front of her house as she has an “inability to assess dangers” and may run onto busy streets.

When the family first moved into the community in February 2017, the school bus came to pick the girl at her house. However, eight months later, the HOA manager Sharon Bowker allegedly ordered the school district not to send a bus to the child’s home. She then reportedly told the bus to pick up the girl on a road with heavy traffic.

Hernandez sent a letter to the board explaining why she needed the bus to come to the front door to pick up her daughter. She also cited the federal Fair Housing Act so that the board would accommodate her child. The board allowed the bus to pick up the girl from her home briefly but then voted unanimously to stop the door-to-door service, the lawsuit said.

The HOA lawyer Mark Hoyt said the streets are privately owned but managed by the association. He also wrote, “In light of that, the HOA had directed that public school buses should use the school district's own assigned bus stop on River Road and not enter onto the private streets of the development because of, among other reasons, potential liability issues, pedestrian safety hazards.”

"And the daily wear and tear on the streets from the weight and frequency of public school buses, which may result in the streets having to be repaired sooner than planned at the HOA's expense,” Hoyt wrote.

The district's transportation director, Michael Shields, said if garbage and postal trucks are allowed to enter into the division and such concerns are not raised over them, then a school bus should also be allowed in. However, the district eventually complied with the homeowners’ request.

The couple are now saying forbidding the school bus from picking up their daughter from the front of their home, violates state as well as federal laws regarding fair housing opportunities and the board members were neglectful and failed “to acquaint themselves and their agents with fair housing laws and the prohibitions against discrimination based on an individual's disability.”

The parents are demanding the Golf Course Estates Homeowners Association reinstate the door-to-door bus service and provide them with unspecified damages as well as legal defense. They also want the association to make a plan about equal access for people with disabilities. They also tried to speak directly with Sen. Winters but did not get a response.

Lawyer Hoyt said the association’s insurer at first refused to pay the legal fee but has since agreed to pay the defense cost. In the meantime, the board has allowed the district to resume the bus service.

Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Pixabay

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