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Mr. Perry goes to Frankfort

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By Stephen Lega

Ron Perry, 60, of Lebanon was kicked out of a basketball game at Marion County High School Jan. 23, 2007.

That incident has triggered a chain of events that has continued for two years, and may end up with Perry testifying before the Kentucky House Health and Welfare Committee later this week.

On that night more than two years ago, Marion County Sheriff's Deputy Jimmy Clements arrested Perry for second-degree disorderly conduct and third-degree criminal trespass.

The trial in that case was continued multiple times before a jury found that Perry was not guilty of disorderly conduct but was guilty of trespassing. He was fined $100 as a result.

In between his arrest and his court date, Perry filed formal complaints with the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights against Marion County, the City of Lebanon and Marion County Public Schools.

Perry accused all three entities of violating KRS 344.130 (which deals with places of public accommodation) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

According to the complaint, Perry argued that he was being denied full enjoyment of public facilities based on his disability.

Perry stated in the complaint that all three entities had a lack of accessible parking for people with disabilities.

Perry also stated that on the night of the basketball game, he was seated near four other people with disabilities. According to the complaint, Perry spoke to the athletics director about getting students to move after the students stood up during the game.

That led to Perry being escorted from the gym. Based on the jury's findings, it's hard to know exactly what happened that night. I suspect this remains a point of contention among the parties involved in that incident.

Since Perry's initial complaint was filed, the city, county and the school district have each signed conciliation agreements. Perry only signed the agreement with the school district, however.

In a letter dated April 18, 2008, the commission notified the county that Perry's complaint (against the county) had been dismissed.

According to the conciliation agreement signed by the county, but not Perry, the county admitted no wrongdoing. The county agreed to continue following the requirements of the state and federal laws regarding public accommodation, and noted that the City of Lebanon had designated additional parking spaces for people with disabilities on Main Street near the courthouse.

The conciliation agreement with the city was nearly identical to the one signed by the county. The city's agreement noted that it admits no wrongdoing, follows federal and state requirements and has designated more parking spaces for people with disabilities downtown. Again, Perry did not sign this agreement.

The agreement with the school district - the one that Perry did sign - notes that the high school now has the requisite number of parking spaces for people with disabilities in its parking lot and that seating has been designated for people with disabilities in the gymnasium.

The school district also agreed to pay $2,000 to Perry, although the agreement also notes that the school district does not admit to any wrongdoing.

It's been two years since that unfortunate incident at the basketball game.

For better or worse, the criminal case has been resolved, and it would appear that the human rights complaint has been concluded, at least as far as the city, the county, the school district and the state are concerned.

At the same time, I know a lot of people have become frustrated by this process. My hope is that people can see something positive in all of this.

People with disabilities now have more parking spaces downtown and at Marion County High School and designated seating in the high school gymnasium. Whatever issues remain in the courthouse will be resolved once the new judicial center opens (likely, some time in 2010).

Perry contacted the newspaper Friday to inform me that he would be testifying before the state's House and Welfare Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Tom Burch, D-Jefferson County.

I called the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission to find out when Perry would be addressing the committee. According to the LRC, Burch has invited Perry to address the committee Thursday, but as of Monday morning, they had not yet received any confirmation that Perry would appear.

We'll see what happens.   Be aware of scam

Becky Buckman called the newspaper last week because of a possible scam she learned about through a phone call to her mother-in-law.

During the call, a recording indicated that the recipient of the call was being invited to take part in a civil lawsuit. The caller claimed to be from the law office of Jason Head and left 1 (888) 279-5764 as a contact number.

Buckman did some research on the Internet and learned this was just as fishy as she thought it was.

Internet searches for Jason Head PLC and the 888-number turned up several websites noting individuals who had similar complaints about that same number throughout the country.

Buckman did the right thing in researching this issue.

If you receive this call or a similar one, follow her example and do some research. If it seems fishy, call (502) 696-5300 to find out if the "business" is registered with the state Attorney General's Office.