MUNHALL, Pa. – A Pennsylvania teachers union filed a grievance recently after officials allowed a special needs student to use one of three faculty only restrooms at Munhall’s Park Elementary School.

The district superintendent initially denied the grievance, and the union pushed to take the issue to the school board, which upheld the superintendent’s decision in a meeting last night.

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The Steel Valley Education Association said in a grievance filed last month that allowing disabled student Kaitlin Montgomery to use a staff bathroom at the school violates the teachers union’s contract with the district, and it wants officials to reverse the decision, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

The student’s use of the bathroom “is a violation of Article VII Teaching Hours and Conditions, Section D Exclusive Employee Facilities,” according to the grievance, filed Feb. 13.

“That section of the contract reads: ‘The board will provide lunchroom, lounge, and lavatory facilities exclusively for employees use in accordance with its past practice except in the administration building the lunch room can be used by others except students,’” the Post-Gazette reports.

The grievance centers on the Steel Valley school district’s decision to let special needs student Kaitlin Montgomery use a teachers restroom on the bottom floor of Park Elementary School. Kaitlin, 10, suffers from chronic lung disease, pulmonary hypertension, foot problems and other health complications that make it impossible for her to climb the stairs to the school’s main level, where student bathrooms are located.

The grievance was signed by a majority of the school’s female teachers, including two special education teachers, according to the news site.

“I thought teachers were supposed to be for the students,” Kaitlin’s mother, Tracy Montgomery, told the Post-Gazette. “I was especially upset to see that some special education teachers signed the petition.”

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The SVEA initially filed the grievance with Steel Valley superintendent Ed Wehrer, who rejected the complaint citing federal laws that require the district to accommodate students with special needs. But union officials wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer, and moved to put the issue before the school board.

Montgomery told the Post-Gazette that the grievance is especially especially egregious considering that teachers have two other restrooms at Park Elementary all to themselves.

“I think they have two other bathrooms in the school that are staff bathrooms, so I don’t see why the teacher can’t go to another bathroom,” Montgomery said. “It’s not like my child can climb three sets of stairs to go to the bathroom.”

Diana Borges, director of pupil personnel, special services and elementary education, told the Post-Gazette district officials attempted to find other ways to accommodate Kaitlin, but options are limited. The school used to have a student restroom in the basement for special education students, but a ventilation issue forced officials to use the space for something else.

Officials also considered building an outside ramp to the upper level, but it wouldn’t serve the student well during inclement weather, Borges said.

“Mrs. Borges also said there are two other faculty bathrooms in the building and she believes that fulfills the district’s contractual obligation to provide a faculty-only restroom. She reiterated Mr. Wehrer’s stance that federal law requires the district to provide accessible facilities for students,” according to the news site.

School board members last night voted unanimously to reject the union’s grievance, the Associated Press reports.