Handicapped spots open to visitors without permit, not students with them


Jamie Bikales

A car without a permit sits parked in a handicap spot outside of the cafeteria. According to PPS district policy, all handicap spots on campus are designated for staff with handicap passes and visitors, not students with a disability.

Limping on her crutches with a backpack weighing her down, the only thing Portia Wilder wanted to do was park her car and make it to class on time.

Wilder, a senior, who has a handicap parking pass, tried to park in one of the handicap parking spots on Lincoln’s campus- behind the cafeteria or in the pit along 14th Ave.

However, Wilder was disappointed to find that all the spots had been taken by cars without handicap passes. She had to pay for parking on the street, a five to 10 minute walk away from school.

I find myself not being able to find any parking at school, even if I have a handicap sticker,” says Wilder.

There is a reason why there are handicap spots, for those that are injured and for old people, hence the symbol of a wheelchair,” she says.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) National Network, the US department of Justice issued regulations under the ADA in 2010 that affects “state and local governments, as well as public accommodations and commercial facilities. The ADA states that a lot with 101-150 spots is required to have five accessible parking spaces and one van accessible parking space.   

According to Rules of the Road for Drivers, section 811.615 OregonLaws.org states that “A person commits the offense of unlawful parking in a space reserved for persons with disabilities if: The person parks a vehicle in any parking space that is on private or public property and that is marked or signed to provide parking for persons with disabilities and the vehicle does not conspicuously display a disabled person parking permit described in ORS or a disabled parking permit issued by another jurisdiction.”

After Wilder could not find parking, she went to the main office to find out who parked in the handicap spots and to see if she could park her car there. She talked to Helen Yoo, principal Peyton Chapman’s secretary, who according to Wilder was surprised that there was someone parking in the handicap spaces without a pass.

While Wilder felt that her complaint led to inaction by the administration, “I was definitely not happy how it was handled because as a person who does have a disability I think the administration should’ve been more supportive.”

Yoo says that she followed district policy. She “reported it [to the administration] and they checked the cars.”

According to Stan Caples, Lincoln’s campus monitor, who handles parking and other campus related issues, there are  policies that regulate parking on campus.

“Like any other private property, Portland Public Schools is private property belonging to the district and on the private property they have handicap parking [that is regulated by the district],”says Caples outlining policy.

This means that city patrol and ticketing officers won’t come onto school property to issue a ticket for illegal parking. However, the school administration can call the main district office who can then call for a towing company to remove the vehicle.

“The next thing to understand is that handicap spots are designated for visitor parking, which means temporary parking, not all day parking,” Caples says.

The only people who can permanently park there are staff with handicap passes. “Essentially, all of the parking on the school premises is reserved for staff only, that is the most important thing to remember,” he explains.

“As a courtesy to some of our students, who have become injured, we allow depending on the degree of their injury to park in one of the handicap spots for a short period of time,” he adds.

Caples says that students may be allowed to park for up to three weeks or sometimes more depending on the circumstances. However, the amount of time where a student can use the spot depends on the administration.

“[The administration] doesn’t want to inconvenience any student, but at the same time we don’t want to abuse the use of a handicap spot,” Caples says.

A student with a permanent disability and a legal handicap pass still cannot park in a school parking lot spot. “We can’t provide parking for them, unless it is on a temporary basis,” Caples says.

Jill Ross, Lincoln’s business manager, who is in charge of parking at the school, affirmed the policies Caples outlined. She explains that the lack of parking spaces on campus makes it difficult for teachers and substitutes to have a parking spot, let alone having any for students. All parking is only designated for staff, and handicap spots not used by staff with legal passes are reserved for visitors.

Currently one of the handicap spots behind the cafeteria is used for one of the office secretaries who works part time, and the other is held for any visitors.

As the student body has grown, so has the number of faculty working at Lincoln. However, the number of parking spots and lots haven’t grown at all. Now those handicap spots are designated for staff need.  

According to Ross there are 220 people working in the school- including teachers, coaches, student teachers and other faculty – who need parking. However, there are only 115 parking spots on campus. There are officially three handicap spots, and two are in the pit.

Due to the limited parking on campus the school monitors these spots. If a student or anyone else not allowed to park on campus does park there, the school can issue a set of warnings.

If a staff spot has been taken by an unauthorized person, that faculty member is supposed to take a picture of the license plate and immediately report it to the office. The office then reports the information to Caples, who calls the main district, and the security there can run the plate number to identify who the car belongs to.

Like any other private entity the administration can’t do anything except put a nasty sticker on the car when they’re not supposed to be there and give our own Lincoln ticket,” Ross says.

If it doesn’t belong to anyone with a relation to the school, Caples tags the car with a bright orange parking tag, placed on the driver’s side window. This sticker serves as a warning for towing in the future. The administration records the information, so if it happens again, they can determine if they need to call the district for a towing.

In the event that a student does park on campus, the administration tags their car too. After the first warning, including  contacting parents, if there’s continual parking issues the student can receive a fine up to $50- in any parking spot on campus.

“This year I’ve started giving a warning because I think it’s nicer. I haven’t had to give a ticket this year, but I have had to email parents,” Ross says.

Parking at Lincoln has become a hassle for the administration.

“The first hour of the day is juggling handicap [and all other] spots,” says Ross.

The design of the parking lot in the pit makes some parking spots inaccessible. The two handicap spots in the pit are deigned in a way where if one car parks there it blocks the other one too. Because of this, when the parent of a current student who uses a wheelchair drops off their child, they park behind Ross’s car, blocking her car in during the drop off and pick up.

“We will let people who need to block our cars if needed,” Ross says.

Wilder says, “I think throughout this experience it’s pretty discouraging  that the school isn’t making a effort to help out those in need, instead they’re helping people who don’t want to pay for parking.”

“I feel like the administration is lacking support for those that are “disabled” compared to those that are not. I feel like there is no respect within the Lincoln community plus the administration throughout this process.”

While the administration isn’t pleased with the current situation either, they point to  the challenge of the urban setting of the school.

Ross says she has “mixed emotions: because when you go to work you should be able to park. However, we really do work downtown. It’s mixed emotions because [many] people who work downtown don’t get parking- it’s lucky that we get 115 spots.”

Ross and Caples hope that the new school will bring improvements to parking.

“When we build the new school I think there should be adequate handicap parking for students,” Caples says.