Updated: Crumb rubber will be replaced this weekend

The Playground Underlayment Committee plans to replace the crumb rubber playground surface material at Friday Harbor Elementary School the weekends of March 6-8 and 13-14.

The committee raised $7,000 to purchase and install engineered wood fiber, to replace the crumb rubber at no cost to the district. The San Juan Island School Board is expected to approve the crumb rubber replacement at a special school board meeting today, 6 p.m., in the Friday Harbor High School library.

The school district paid $10,000 for the crumb rubber surface last year at the request of the elementary school PTA, which raised money for the new playground equipment, Big Toy. But after the material was installed, some parents complained that the crumb rubber's smell; others complained that children with mobility issues had trouble getting to the playground equipment.

Nine complaints were filed with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, which reached a voluntary agreement with the San Juan Island School District to resolve the access issues. While the access issues could be resolved without replacing the crumb rubber -- a mat could be placed across the surface -- the parents wanted the material replaced.

In addition, the school board on Feb. 25 approved revisions to its policy, "Education of Students with Disabilities and Program Accessibility for Students, Staff and Visitors under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973."

The policy includes the language, "students, staff and visitors with disabilities may not be denied the opportunity to participate in or benefit from programs, activities and services offered by the district because they have a disability-related need."

The policy also states that the district will provide accessibility options for handicapped students, by redesigning equipment, providing services at an alternate site, or assigning an aide to help disabled students benefit from activities and programs.

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