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Monday, 14 September 2015 06:00

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE INVESTIGATION DETERMINES MERCED COUNTY GOVERNMENT HAS EXCLUDED PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES AND HAS SUBJECTED THEM TO DISCRIMINATION

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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE INVESTIGATION DETERMINES MERCED COUNTY GOVERNMENT HAS EXCLUDED PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES AND HAS SUBJECTED THEM TO DISCRIMINATION

Merced County LogoMERCED, CA - The United States Department of Justice, in a scathing lawsuit settlement vs. Merced County government, says county residents with disabilities, “are excluded from participation in or are denied the benefits of many of Merced County’s programs, services, or activities or are subjected to discrimination in violation of the (ADA).”

The County was subjected to an investigation into the disability access and county policies for a litany of physical locations and county programs.

The Department of Justice listed them as follows: “Animal Shelter, John Latorraca Correctional Center, Public Health Administration, and Delhi Senior Citizens Center, Work Release Center, Winton Park, F D Ballico Park, Merced County Sheriff's Office/Main Jail, Los Banos Fairgrounds, Los Banos Library, Shattuck Educational Center, Workforce Investment, Human Services Agency, Planada Community Recreation Building, Merced County Library, Del Hale Community Recreation Building, O'Banion Park, Hagman Park, Cherish Senior Center, Transportation Center, Le Grand Branch Library, Merced County Main Library, Administrative Services, and Lake Yosemite County Park. The following polling places: F D Winton Station, La Planada Community Recreation Building, Dos Palos Y, Le Grand Community Services, and Stevinson Fire Station. This review was limited to the areas of the facilities used by the voting public: parking, the route from the parking area to the area used for voting, and the area used for voting.”

Furthermore, the DOJ, “reviewed Merced County's emergency management and disaster prevention policies and Merced County's sidewalk maintenance policies to evaluate whether people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to utilize these programs. Merced County's Sheriff's Department's policies and procedures regarding providing effective communication to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.”

In particular the Department of Justice noted that in order to avoid further investigation and litigation, Merced County “has begun modifications to the Human Services Agency and the Merced Main Library.”

As part of the agreement, Merced County must retain an Independent Licensed Architect to ensure they are building to ADA compliance.

The settlement noted, “Merced County will bear all costs and expenses of retaining and utilizing the ILA, including the costs and expenses of any consultants and staff. Merced County will compensate this ILA without regard to the outcome.”

The settlement indicates that Merced County has an ADA coordinator. According to the Superior County of Merced County the ADA Coordinator is now Dana Hartfelder, who was recently designated.

To read the settlement click here: http://www.ada.gov/merced_co/merced_sa.html

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