Your quick, once-a-day look at disability rights, self-determination
and the movement toward full community inclusion around the world.

Friday, January 24, 2003
Year IV, Edition 025

This edition includes 7 news items, each preceded by a number (#) symbol.

"More residents want to leave than want to get in."

--Kenneth W. Ritchey, Director of Ohio's Department of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, announcing his state's plan to close at least one institution housing people with developmental disabilities over the next two years (First story)

"The stakes are high. The court is going to be considering the very constitutionality of the ADA."
--Ira Burnim, legal director at the Bazelon Center, on Hason v. Medical Board of California, an upcoming discrimination case before the U.S. Supreme Court (Second story)



Governor Announces Closure Of At Least One Institution

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 24, 2003

COLUMBUS, OHIO--The state of Ohio will soon have one or two fewer institutions housing people with developmental disabilities, Governor Bob Taft announced in his State of the State address Wednesday.

The governor said that in his budget proposal, to be issued next month, he will include plans to close one state prison and at least one state-run institution as one measure to deal with an estimated $4 billion shortfall in the next two-year budget cycle.

Kenneth W. Ritchey, director of the state's Department of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (MRDD), said that 1,095 people are housed Ohio's 12 institutions, here called "developmental centers". Nearly four thousand workers are employed at the facilities.

Ritchey explained Friday that many factors would be considered when deciding which facility to close, including the age of the facility and how costly each is to operate. He added that populations at the centers would not be a major factor.

Residents would have the option to transfer to another state institution or live in their communities, Ritchey said. Employees could transfer to other state institutions if a vacant position was open.

Ritchey said the trend in other states is to close institutions and help people to live in the community.

"More residents want to leave than want to get in," he explained.

Apple Creek Developmental Center in Wayne County, which has about 180 residents and 400 employees, is considered the most likely to be targeted for closure.

Unfortunately, Taft also announced Wednesday that the state would be need to restrict spending on Medicaid. His plan will call for freezing reimbursement rates for all Medicaid providers, eliminating many optional services and changing eligibility criteria for adults, a move that could end benefits for as many as 30,000 people with disabilities and low incomes.



Legal Groups Ask For Advocates To Act On ADA Case

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 24, 2003

WASHINGTON, DC--The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law and the National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems (NAPAS) are urging grassroots disability rights groups to act on an upcoming Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) case now before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case involves Michael Hason, who was denied a medical license by the Medical Board of California because he had a history of depression.

Hason tried to sue the board, which is a state agency, under Title II of the ADA which bans discrimination by state and local governments. The board argued that the 11th Amendment to the Constitution does not allow state agencies to be sued for money damages.

Hason's case is important because the Supreme Court would decide whether Congress had the authority to allow individuals to sue states for damages when it passed into law the ADA in 1990. A negative ruling might suggest that Congress did not have the power to enact many of the core protections in Title II, according to a statement from the Bazelon Center.

"The stakes are high," said Ira Burnim, legal director at the Bazelon Center, of Hason's case which is expected to be heard by the court in March and ruled on in June. "The court is going to be considering the very constitutionality of the ADA."

NAPAS and the Bazelon Center are calling on activists to ask their state lawmakers to support Hason's position. The national non-profit groups are also coordinating "friend of the court" briefs to be filed on Dr. Hason's behalf.

The state of Minnesota plans to file a brief in support of the ADA, but other states may join a brief in support of the states' rights position.

"We're counting on advocates to let their states know how important the ADA's protections are to people with disabilities," explained Sharon Masling, NAPAS director of legal services. "Briefs from the states could have a big impact on the court's decision."

Related resource:
"The Hason Case" (David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law)



District Faces Three Lawsuits Over Treatment Of Students

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 24, 2003

HOUSTON, TEXAS--The Klein Independent School District is facing three federal lawsuits filed within the last year over poor treatment of students with disabilities, the Houston Chronicle reported Thursday.

The latest of those cases involves Lisa Calvin's son Adam. On November 11, Calvin arrived at Haude Elementary School to find 8-year-old Adam lying face-down on the classroom floor -- with his hands cuffed behind him.

"I could hear him begging," Calvin told a local radio station after the incident. "He was saying, 'please take these off' and he was crying. When I saw him on the floor, he was soaked in sweat."

A district police officer had handcuffed Adam after the boy had a tantrum.

"I heard the cop tell him, 'Boy when you calm down, I'll take these off of you.' (It was) what he was saying when I was coming down the hall," Calvin said.

Calvin filed a lawsuit against the district last month. The suit seeks $10 million in actual and punitive damages for constitutional and civil rights violations.

Parents of one of Adam's classmates, a boy who has Down syndrome, filed a suit against the district last May. The boy's parents want the school to have their son attend both regular and special education classes.

In August, parents of a middle school student with autism filed suit claiming the district violated the civil rights and academics of their child. That suit is in the process of being settled confidentially, the family's lawyer told the Houston Chronicle Wednesday.

In Adam's case, school officials said the boy attacked the assistant principal and others who tried to calm him after an angry outburst.

District Superintendent Jim Surratt said Adam had bitten and scratched teachers and aides and had knocked down equipment when district police were called.

Adam has not been back to school since the incident because district officials could not promise never to use handcuffs on him again, Calvin said.



"Disability Rights Plan Welcomed"

January 24, 2003

LONDON, ENGLAND--The following four paragraphs are excerpts from a brief item in Wednesday's BBC News:

Disability rights campaigners have welcomed proposed new legislation which pledges to improve the lives of the people they represent.

Works and Pensions Secretary Andrew Smith hailed the move as "the biggest extension of rights for disabled people ever seen in this country".

He said the government intended to publish a draft disability bill later this year, which would "advance the rights and opportunities" of disabled people across the country.

Bert Massie, chairman of the Disability Rights Commission, welcomed the proposals, which he said would answer his group's call for new rights for disabled people in transport.

Full article:
"Disability rights plans welcomed" (BBC News)

Related resource:
Disability Rights Commission



Target Pays Current Worker To Settle Disability Discrimination Suit

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 24, 2003

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA--Target Corporation has agreed to pay $95,000 to an employee for discriminating against her because she has multiple sclerosis.

The lawsuit, filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), charged that Target failed to provide a reasonable accommodation to Susan Stombaugh. The EEOC said that Target refused to transfer Stombaugh to a vacant position after her disability interfered with her ability to perform her current job.

The federal agency also claimed that a Target supervisor had given confidential information about Stombaugh's disability to another prospective employer.

To settle the suit Target agreed to compensate Stombaugh, to comply with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), provide training to its management staff, and continue to maintain an anti-harassment policy.

"I really enjoy my job at Target," said Stombaugh. "I have not experienced any problems since leaving my former store, and my supervisors and coworkers have worked hard to assist and accommodate me in my current position."

The EEOC enforces a number of federal anti-discrimination laws, including Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act which prohibits disability-related discrimination against employees in the private sector and state and local governments.

Related resource:
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



N.O.D.: National Organization On Disability

The National Organization on Disability, celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2002, promotes the full and equal participation and contribution of America’s 54 million men, women and children with disabilities in all aspects of life.



# ONE YEAR AGO (From the January 25, 2002 Inclusion Daily Express


Canada's Highest Court Tosses "Wrongful Birth" Suit, In Part

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 25, 2002

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--In a 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday that a couple cannot sue their Vancouver, B.C. doctor to cover his adult services, even though the doctor failed to detect that their son might be born with Down syndrome 10 years ago.

Pam Krangle was 36 when she was pregnant with her son Mervyn Dudley. Pam's general practitioner, Dr. Stanley Morrill, did not tell her that women over 35 are more likely to have children with Down syndrome, and did not offer an amniocentesis -- a kind of genetic test. The Krangles said they would have had an abortion had they known.

Dr. Morrill was later found negligent.

The court ruled this week that the parents were not entitled to damages to pay for Mervyn's care when he becomes an adult, because the provincial government picks up those costs after a person with a developmental disability turns 19. The doctor's liability and the parents' responsibility end when the state takes over with adult services, the court said.

The court did not change a 1997 B.C. Supreme Court decision that ordered Morrill to pay the Krangles nearly $600,000 in damages, interest and costs for Mervyn's care to the age of 19.

Related article:
"Top court dismisses `wrongful birth' case" (Toronto Star)

Related resource:
"Wrongful Births" (Inclusion Daily Express)


# Join a discussion on "Institutions/Health Care" at the Inclusion Daily Express message board (last posting 1/26/03):

Tell your friends and colleagues about Inclusion Daily Express!

Inclusion Daily Express

©Copyright 2003 Inonit Publishing
3231 W. Boone Ave., # 711, Spokane, Washington 99201 USA
Phone: 509-326-5811
Dave Reynolds, Editor