Disability Connection – August 2018

Discussion of the Disabled Persons Protection Commission’s (DPPC) Sexual Assault Response Unit (SARU) with Attorney Susan Vickers, Director, and Peer Support Leaders, Patricia Quatieri, and, Leigh-Ann Barry.

DLC Finds Abuse & Neglect at Tri-County Schools in Easthampton

Young student writing. Disability Law Center Investigation Report Tri-County Schools Easthampton, Massachusetts.

 

BOSTON, August 2, 2018 – The Disability Law Center (DLC) issues a Report today announcing the results of its abuse and neglect investigation at Tri-County Schools (TCS) in Easthampton, Massachusetts. DLC substantiated abuse and neglect at TCS. The school is closing for approximately a year in order to reassess and reopen the school’s operation with a focus on a trauma-informed care model.

TCS is a private, day special education school in Easthampton, Massachusetts run by a non-profit, Northeast Center for Youth & Families (NCYF) and approved by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. TCS has the capacity to serve up to 115 special education students, who primarily struggle with social, emotional and behavioral manifestations of their disabilities.

During the early spring of 2018, DLC received complaints regarding the treatment of students with disabilities at TCS. As part of its investigation, DLC reviewed three student records, viewed restraint video and interviewed 19 parents. DLC also reviewed records from local police, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF), conducted a site visit and interviewed TCS administrators.

DLC’s investigation found TCS staff engaged in abuse by repeatedly using excessive force in restraints and engaging in improper time-out and disciplinary practices. For example:

  • One 14-year-old student, whose record DLC reviewed, was restrained seven times in a seven week period. He was injured in four of the seven restraints (accidentally kneed on the left side of his face by a staff member on one occasion and a variety of cuts and abrasions on his side, arms and face during the other restraints).
  • A parent reported her 8-year-old son’s finger was broken during a behavioral incident in June 2018. She, like several parents we interviewed, noted that he was restrained almost daily and “came home with bruises on his arms and back almost every day due to holds.”
  • A parent of an 11-year-old student reported that his son was restrained daily as well and often came up with scrapes down his side, lower back and with bruising in the shape of finger prints.

DLC also found TSC neglected students with disabilities by failing to provide a safe environment by not maintaining adequate numbers of trained staff, which resulted in the over-criminalization of disability-related behavior and the failure to properly implement effective social/emotional services and supports. For example:

  • TCS staff called the police alleging a student-on-student fight. When police arrived, they discovered no student fight, but only three students who had attempted to repeatedly escape improperly administered restraints. All three of the students were charged with “Disturbing School Assembly.”
  • A DCF investigation into four missing students revealed that the students’ unlicensed teacher was a substitute from a temp agency and her Instructional Assistant (IA) was new and on a probationary period. The IA could not explain the protocol for different student safety statuses (one student who led the escape was supposed to be in arms-length of staff at all times). The teacher could also not explain how the student left the room without staff. During the month-long investigation period, the teacher was terminated, the IA quit and the Director of Operations resigned from her role.

“The pattern and practice of forcibly restraining and containing — and then arresting — students for disability-related behavior at a special education school is extremely troubling.” says Marlene Sallo, DLC’s Executive Director. “This treatment causes both physical harm and long-term psychological trauma.”

DLC supports TCS’ decision to close, reassess its operation and re-open with a trauma-informed care focus. In support of that effort, DLC seeks a remedial plan from TCS in advance to address these findings.

DLC, as the designated Protection and Advocacy System for Massachusetts, is authorized under federal law to investigate incidents of abuse and neglect of individuals with disabilities. The investigation was conducted and the report was written by Colleen Shea, Attorney/Skadden Fellow and Stanley J. Eichner, Litigation Director.

Contact: Executive Director Marlene Sallo (617)-723-8455 x145; msallo@dlc-ma.org

DLC Tri-County School Investigation Report

Man and his caretaker found dead at two Holiday Inns

A severely disabled man was found dead in a room at the Holiday Inn on Ariadne Road in Dedham on Tuesday, July 10, 2018. Staff Photo by Faith Ninivaggi

A wheelchair-bound severely disabled man was found dead in a Dedham hotel room, and the woman who cared for him for much of his life apparently committed suicide in another hotel Monday, according to authorities who called the deaths related.Venture Community Services on Lantern Lane contacted Dedham police about 7 p.m. Monday to report that one of its employees, Mary E. MacKinnon, had failed to return with Jeffrey N. Goldstein, a 41-year-old resident with whom she had worked for many years, prosecutors said.

Source: www.bostonherald.com

REV UP! Training August 28, 2018

REV UP! Register - Educate - Vote!

Come learn more about using your power to vote to make change!

Tuesday, August, 28, 2018
2:00pm-4:00pm
Worcester Public Library
3 Salem Square
Worcester, MA 01608

REV Up aims to increase the number of people who vote

Many supports, services and civil rights have been under attack

More people with disabilities and the Deaf/Hard of Hearing/ Late-Deafened/Deaf Blind communities need to vote

Make change – VOTE!

PLEASE REGISTER!
Contact Ellen Perkins at:
Voice: 508-502-7576
VP: 508-762-1164
eperkins@centerlw.org

ASL Interpreters and CART will be provided.
Please request other communication access

BEFORE August 7th.

Disability Connection June 2018

DLC Staff Attorney Caitlin Parton talks about the challenges facing persons who are deaf or hard of hearing in accessing services from medical providers, in public accommodations and in housing.

Rev Up! Conference a Big Success!

The federal and state election officials left us all with the feeling that they all are trying very hard to ensure that all polling locations are accessible to everyone.  In spite of their efforts, we are not at 100%, but they were knowledgeable on the issues, and seemed intent on continuing to fix barriers.

Going forward, we have two important and related goals – to register people with disabilities to vote, and to Get Out The Vote in November.  We also need to continue to be vigilant and ensure all events and venues are accessible to everyone.  Our emails will provide opportunities to become active as we determine how to best achieve these goals.

Thank you very much to the panel members who made the effort to attend, to update us on current efforts, and to listen to our concerns.

DLC Issues Public Report on the Efficacy of Service Delivery Reforms at Bridgewater State Hospital

Photo of Bridgewater State Hospital

May 18, 2018 – A  Report  to  the  President  of  the  Senate,  the  Speaker  of  the  House  of  Representatives, and the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Mental Health  Substance  Use  and  Recovery,  the  Joint  Committee  on  the  Judiciary,  the  Senate  Ways  and  Means  Committee,  and  the  House  Ways  and  Means  Committee,  submitted  pursuant  to  the  FY  2018  Budget  (Acts  of  2017,  Chapter 47, Item #8900-0001.)

Read the Report

 

DLC Finds Residential School Effectively Remedied Abuse & Neglect Concerns

Meadowridge Academy

DLC Finds Residential School in Swansea Effectively Remedied Abuse and Neglect Concerns

BOSTON, April 11, 2018 – The Disability Law Center (DLC) issues a Report today announcing the results of its abuse and neglect investigation at Meadowridge Academy (Meadowridge) in Swansea, Massachusetts. DLC substantiated abuse and neglect at Meadowridge, but also found it has comprehensively remedied the abuse and neglect concerns.

Meadowridge is a private, residential special education school, which is a part of the Justice Resource Institute (JRI) network, and approved by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Meadowridge serves as a placement for up to 36 students with significant mental health issues, behavioral difficulties and complex trauma histories.

During the winter of 2016, DLC received complaints regarding the treatment of students at Meadowridge. As part of its investigation, DLC reviewed records from Meadowridge, multiple state oversight agencies and local police. DLC also interviewed families, conducted two site visits and interviewed the Director of Meadowridge and JRI staff.

DLC’s investigation substantiated abuse and neglect against students with disabilities from 2014 through 2016. Specifically, in 2015, one residential supervisor abused a 17-year old student by engaging in a sexual relationship with her. Additionally, from January 2014 to October 2016, DLC found several staff members engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior with students. All employees involved in any misconduct were terminated or resigned. DLC also found Meadowridge neglected students by failing to provide a safe environment (e.g. 142 police incidents at Meadowridge from 2014-2016, including peer-on-peer assaults and runaways).

DLC also found Meadowridge has engaged in extensive corrective action measures to prevent further harm to students with disabilities. For example:

  • Meadowridge installed 58 cameras in all common areas that can be accessed remotely 24/7;
  • Windows were installed in all doors to increase visibility;
  • Unscheduled night-time site visits are now conducted on a regular basis;
  • Reporting mechanisms were changed so lower-level employees can report potential boundary violations about their supervisors to other administration;
  • Staff training changed from lecture-style model to practical application model, including full-day shadowing;

These changes have decreased runaways dramatically and eliminated staff boundary violations at Meadowridge. Due to the proactive and broad nature of Meadowridge’s remediation, DLC does not seek any additional remedies, but will continue to monitor the school for compliance.

“The misconduct at Meadowridge was egregious” says Marlene Sallo, DLC’s Executive Director. “However, we commend Meadowridge for assessing every aspect of their operation and engaging in thoughtful and effective corrective action at every level.”

Read the Report


Contact: Stanley J. Eichner, Litigation Director

617-723-8455

seichner@dlc-ma.org

From a wheelchair, Lowell man’s a force for accessibility

Dino Theodore
Dino Theodore of Lowell, paralyzed from the waist down after an accident in 1981, has worked with attorney Nicholas Guerrera to sue more than 50 companies for failing to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. They see themselves as activists, while some business owners see them as nuisances. SUN / TODD FEATHERS

 

 

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