After disabled students at Brookline High School raised concerns about a long delay in fixing a broken elevator, their advocacy may have paid off.
Assistant head of school Hal Mason on Friday said the elevator is expected to be back up and running when school resumes next week. “The elevator in question will return to operation on Monday,” Mason said in an e-mail, in response to the Globe’s request for comment.
The issue came into public view during the March 3 meeting of the Brookline School Committee.
The student representative to the panel, senior Claire Gallion, read letters from two students who questioned why the elevator has been working off-and-on since the start of the school year.
They were upset that officials didn’t act until another student got stuck in the elevator for more than an hour shortly before the February school vacation.
“Everyday is just elevator roulette to see if I’ll be in pain, or whether I might be able to just get to my classes normally as a disabled person,” junior Mir Stojanov, who has been using a cane since January, said in the letter. “I can’t speak on behalf of all my disabled peers, but I feel completely disregarded and let down by BHS.”
Sophomore Zoe Soroka, who often uses a wheelchair, relies on the elevator to get to the fourth floor for her classes in the School Within a School program. When it hasn’t been working, teachers have carried her wheelchair up the stairs, she said.
School officials “gave excuse after excuse after excuse to how it was the elevator company’s fault and not theirs, which may be true,” she said in her letter.
Still, she felt awkward following behind teachers who carried her wheelchair, “being gawked at and being made late for class,” her letter said.
In an interview, Soroka said she’s lately been using crutches to get up the stairs at school.
“I’m lucky that it doesn’t cause me pain to walk up the stairs or down the stairs. But for others it definitely does. So then they’re stuck in pain while they’re trying to get to the classes and then it just affects their entire day,” she said.
By speaking out, she hopes school officials will pay more attention. “I deserve accessibility in my school,” Soroka said.
During the meeting, Gallion, the student rep, also weighed in on the issue.
“I am not somebody who needs to use an elevator to get to the fourth floor, but I have even seen the deeply harmful effects the broken elevator has had on many students,” she said. “It is frankly outrageous and disappointing from a school that claims to care so deeply about including all students.”
Charlie Simmons, director of public buildings for Brookline, told the committee that the elevators have been having problems since the start of the school year.
But he’s been working with both the manufacturer and a construction contractor working at the school to resolve the issue. After the student got stuck in the elevator, Simmons said he spoke with a consultant about what may have gone wrong.
If the problem continues, a lift could be installed between the third and fourth floor. School Within a School classes could temporarily move to a lower level, he said.
But Mason, the assistant head of school, hopes the elevator problems may be solved.
“The cause of the most recent trouble was not as complicated as first thought and therefore the fix was simpler and shorter,” he wrote in Friday’s e-mail. “We are also exploring a secondary means of access if the elevator continues to be unreliable.”
Madison Mercado can be reached at email@example.com.