MUNHALL, Pa. – A teachers union said a special needs student at a Pittsburgh-area elementary school shouldn't be allowed to use a faculty restroom even though school officials said it's difficult for the girl to climb steps to reach a student restroom on another floor.
The Steel Valley Education Association filed a grievance last month, accompanied by a petition from 18 female teachers. The grievance says allowing the 10-year-old to use the restroom on the lower level of Park Elementary School in Munhall violates the teachers' contract. The grievance states 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 says.
The Steel Valley School Board planned to take up the issue Thursday night, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
District Superintendent Ed Wehrer considered the grievance but said the girl could still use the lower-level restroom. He 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.
The student's mother told the newspaper her daughter has chronic lung disease, pulmonary hypertension and foot problems, and is also autistic.
District official Diane Borges, who oversees pupil personnel and special services, 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.