New wheelchair lift installed so flutist can play with band

July 31, 1991|By Baltimore County Bureau of The Sun

A Catonsville High School flute player who uses a wheelchair may be able to practice with the school band, thanks to the loan of a device that will give her access to the building's basement.

An organization representing handicapped children will lend a portable wheelchair lift to the Baltimore County schools for the use of Randi Wixom, 16. She sued the school system last April because she was unable to get down a flight of steps to practice with the band.

Samuel Edwards, president of the Columbia-based Society of Underprivileged and Handicapped Children of Maryland Inc., said the device, called a Garaventa Stair-Trac, usually costs about $7,000.

An instructional aide at the high school will operate the lift, said Leslie R. Stellman, an attorney representing the county schools.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis told lawyers representing the county school system to work with attorneys from the National Disability Law Center to find a way to allow Randi to practice with the band.

In a conference call to the judge Monday, lawyers agreed to report back by Aug. 15 on whether the portable lift would be acceptable.

The school system had offered to bus Randi to Owings Mills High School, where all areas are accessible, or to give her a private tutor.

Randi said she would have preferred a stair lift, which is more expensive, but that she is satisfied. "If it will get me to the class, I'm happy about it," she said.

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