MUNHALL, Pa. (AP) — A school board in western Pennsylvania voted unanimously Thursday night to deny a grievance brought by teachers seeking to prevent a special needs student from using a faculty restroom.
The Steel Valley school board voted on the matter without discussion, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
The teachers union filed a grievance last month, accompanied by a petition from 18 female teachers. The grievance said allowing the 10-year-old student to use the restroom on the lower level of Park Elementary School in Munhall violated the teachers' contract. The Steel Valley Education Association said the contract requires the district to provide "lavatory facilities exclusively for employees."
"The bathrooms that have been designated as faculty bathrooms shall be exclusively used by the faculty," the grievance said.
The student's mother, Tracy Montgomery, told the board Thursday that before she got permission to have her daughter use the faculty restroom, school officials said the girl would have to go outside and up a flight of stairs to use a student bathroom. Other students on the lower level do that.
She said her daughter Kaitlin has chronic lung disease, pulmonary hypertension and foot problems, and is also autistic.
Steel Valley Education Association President Shawn McCallister said the grievance wasn't filed to prevent the student from using the restroom, the Post-Gazette reported, but to create "a better outcome for all involved."
District Superintendent Ed Wehrer previously said federal law requires Steel Valley to meet the needs of students with disabilities. No other alternatives met the girl's needs, he said, and noted that the student is the only non-faculty member using the restroom.
District official Diane Borges, who oversees pupil personnel and special services, had said the restroom on the lower level of the school in Munhall is the only one available. Another one located in a special education room is now taken up by a ventilation unit.
Borges said that two other faculty restrooms are in the school building and that she believes the district accommodations fulfill the teachers' contract.