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

Wednesday, February 26, 2003
Year IV, Edition 040

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

"These were facilities that were built in a time when they put people away. . . People with disabilities can live in the community."

--Mary Lou Maloney, legislative liaison for Arc Massachusetts, about Gov. Romney's plan to close Fernald Developmental Center, the oldest publicly-funded institution in the Western Hemisphere housing people with developmental disabilities (First story)

"Sometimes I'm judged because people think of me that way (as handicapped), but I think everyone's judged. Having my own place just makes me feel more confident."
--Anna Burkholder, 45, who is living on her own for the first time in her adult life (Fifth story)



Governor Orders Oldest Institution To Close

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 26, 2003

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS--Fernald Developmental Center, the oldest publicly-funded institution housing people with developmental disabilities in the Western Hemisphere, is to be closed under a budget proposal from Governor Mitt Romney.

Fernald is to be shut down as part of Romney's plan to close a $3 billion budget gap for the 2004 fiscal year. Its 309 residents would either be moved to other facilities or homes in the community, under the governor's proposal.

The governor will seek to close the state's other five institutions housing another 800 residents in the future, a spokesperson said Tuesday. Officials are already considering options for selling the buildings and properties, including the 200 acres at Fernald.

Social reformer Samuel Gridley Howe founded the institution with a $2,500 appropriation from the state legislature in 1848. Originally called the "Massachusetts School for the Feeble Minded", the facility was renamed the Walter E. Fernald State School in 1925 after its first resident superintendent.

"These were facilities that were built in a time when they put people away," Mary Lou Maloney, legislative liaison for Arc Massachusetts told the Boston Globe. "People with disabilities can live in the community."

Arc Massachusetts has been pushing for the state's six facilities to be shuttered since 1990. Most of the institutions have not admitted new residents for more than 25 years because of court orders following complaints of overcrowding.

In his budget proposal, Romney also plans to close Worcester State Hospital which houses people with mental illness, and to increase health care fees for about 150,000 Medicaid recipients.

If Fernald's closure is approved by the legislature, several families of residents have said they would sue the state to stop it.



State Medical Board May Drop ADA Fight

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 26, 2003

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA--This Friday, the Medical Board of California will vote on whether to pull its ADA suit against Michael J. Hason that is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.

"It is my belief as Attorney General that the greater public interest of the State of California would be furthered by a withdrawal of the petition for certiorari in this matter," California Attorney General Bill Lockyer wrote to the state medical board last week.

If the board chooses to withdraw its petition for certiorari, the Supreme Court would be prompted to dismiss the case, a ruling on which could further limit people from suing state agencies under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

Governor Gray Davis has said he "simply will not be party to any lawsuit that could put the Americans with Disabilities Act in jeopardy."

The case involves Michael J. Hason, a doctor who sued the California Medical Board after it refused to grant him a medical license because of his disability.

Hason, who experiences depression, argued that the board should have given him a reasonable accommodation by offering him a probationary license and requiring him to go through therapy. A psychiatrist told the board that Hason should be allowed to practice medicine because he was not a danger to patients.

An appeals court ruled that Hason could sue the state board under the ADA, but the board claimed that a 2001 Supreme Court ruling protects it from suits filed by individuals.

In that ruling, Alabama v. Garrett, the court determined that state workers could not use the ADA to sue their employers for damages.

Four Supreme Court rulings last year further limited the scope of the ADA. The Hason case is considered to have the highest potential for a negative ruling this term.

Related article:
"CA Atty. Gen., other officials urge state medical board to drop Hason appeal" (Ragged Edge Online)

Related resource:
"University of Alabama vs. Patricia Garrett & Milton Ash" (Inclusion Daily Express)



Few Residents Interested In Tracking Bracelet

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 26, 2003

CARMEL, NEW YORK--In 1998, Putnam Sheriff Donald Smith purchased an $1,800 Care Trak Mobile Locater.

The system is designed to track people who wear a small transmitter and battery attached to a bracelet. It has helped authorities and rescuers track hundreds of people across the country.

In Putnam County, however, the system currently has just two users, both of whom have autism.

That's not enough, Smith told the New York Journal News.

Related article:
"Putnam device that tracks lost people finds few takers" (The Journal News)

The above article did not mention whether or not people in Putnam County are concerned about the lack of privacy such a device would allow. Would you want law enforcement to know where you are?

What's your opinion?
Express yourself on the Inclusion Daily Express Discussion Board:



School Settles Suit For Inappropriate Segregation

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 26, 2003

BETHLEHEM, PENNSYLVANIA--The parents of a 17-year-old student with disabilities have received a $150,000 payment from his school to settle a federal lawsuit claiming he was inappropriately segregated from other students.

The Liberty High School board approved the payment Monday that was voted on during a closed session January 13.

The lawsuit, filed in 2000, claimed that the Bethlehem Area School District denied the student his right to a free public education.

The high school senior, who was not named to protect his privacy, was diagnosed with a number of disabilities including Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder and autism, according to the Express-Times.

His parents contend that their son attended mainstream classes through the 6th grade, but that his behavior problems increased while he was in 8th grade. He was placed in a partial hospitalization program, which his parents said was not appropriate. They claimed the school did not allow him to have contact with the general student population and that he was provided segregated busing, lunches, physical education and art class.

The paper noted that this school year, the student was placed in a mainstream curriculum program with one period per day during which he receives assistance with organization and social skills.



"On Their Own, Not Alone"

February 26, 2003

GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA--The following three paragraphs are excerpts from a recent story from the News & Record:

Ginny Dalton is becoming a wizard with Hamburger Helper but she admits that leftovers are her specialty.

Up until two weeks ago, Dalton, 25, had never cooked for herself. She had never managed her own money. She had never arranged her own schedule. Now she's learning to live on her own, in her one-bedroom apartment, filled with the pig and dog collectibles she loves.

"It's a little scary these new responsibilities and doing them on my own," Dalton says. "But doing things on my own, figuring out what I want for dinner and being able to watch what I want to watch on TV, I like it. It feels good."

Her parents took care of most decisions in Dalton's life.

Full article:
"On their own, not alone" (News & Record)


# TODAY'S FEATURED WEBSITE resources by and for persons on the autistic spectrum

The purpose of the project is to connect autistic people with the services we need to live whole and happy lives. The immediate goal of is to build a global database of information and resources by and for persons on the autistic spectrum.

The project is primarily by and for autistics, not parents of autistic children, though family members and professionals may find this website helpful.



Quote worth noting:

"No one has the right to sit down and feel hopeless. There's too much work to do."
--Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement


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Dave Reynolds, Editor