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Cassandra Cleaveland son Gus not allowed to use flotation device at Whitewater Junction

Cassandra Cleaveland, of Sherrard, continues to go to Whitewater Junction Aquatic Center in Rock Island even though it will not allow her son, Gus, 5, to use his inflatable ring at the water park. The state's attorney general's office will investigate her complaint that the facility is not ADA compliant. 

ROCK ISLAND — The Illinois Attorney General’s Office has informed Cassandra Cleaveland it will investigate her complaint that Whitewater Junction’s Aquatic Center is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Cleaveland was notified in a July 9 letter.

Cleaveland filed a complaint after her 5-year-old son, Gus, was not allowed to use his inflatable flotation device, though he had used it the previous four years at Whitewater Junction on opening day and one other occasion.

Whitewater Junction’s rule this year requires all personal flotation devices (life jackets) to be U.S. Coast Guard approved.

She sought a resolution based on a doctor’s recommendation that called for him to use the inflatable ring he had used in the past.

Cleaveland said, based on communication with the AG's office, it would first try to get Whitewater Junction to allow Gus to use his rings, and then come up with a policy.

“The goal is to have them follow ADA regulations,” Cleaveland said, “which by default would make them accommodate Augustus.”

The family has not hired an attorney as of yet, nor has it filed a lawsuit against Whitewater Junction or the City of Rock Island. “I am not sure we will get an attorney,” Cleaveland said, adding she is waiting to see what the state’s investigation renders.

“When we spoke with the state, there was no doubt in their mind that (Whitewater Junction) was violating their regulations because they have to allow accommodations of policy unless it fundamentally changes the integrity of the goods or services that they provide,” she said. “And the swim ring does not fundamentally change the fact that it’s still a pool.”

Meanwhile, the Sherrard family has a season pass at Whitewater Junction, and has continued to go to the Rock Island pool, including four times last week before going on vacation.

“I want them to see my family and see that we are not going away,” Cleaveland said. Her son, meanwhile, follows the new rules and does not use his inflatable ring.

John Gripp, Rock Island Parks and Recreation executive director, said Tuesday he welcomes the investigation. Whitewater Junction has no plans to make  changes, he said.

“Everything is going to stay the same,” Gripp said. “Whitewater Junction is ADA compliant. We have not blocked the pool to anyone with ADA needs. There’s access from the entry point, the locker rooms, the zero-depth entry pool, drinking fountains, restrooms, you name it,” he said.

“We will obviously comply (with the investigation) and see what comes of it,” he said. “I welcome the investigation and would like to see some closure to this.”

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