FAILURE TO DISCHARGE ADULTS FROM RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS KEEPS NEW YORK STATE RESIDENTS AND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS OUT OF STATE: NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities leaves numerous eligible adults languishing in institutional settings.
Albany, NY, November 30, 2017 – DRNY filed a complaint in the United States District Court in the Eastern District of New York today citing pervasive discriminatory practices on the part of New York State and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (“OPWDD”).
In violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, OPWDD fails to timely plan and implement discharge of eligible adults remaining in inappropriate residential schools. Currently, there are nearly 100 adults stuck in residential schools, many of whom are denied access to adult programs and services such as employment skills training. By law adults over the age of 21 are ineligible for residential educational placement yet OPWDD continues to spend millions of dollars keeping them in these institutional settings.
Read Press Release: http://bit.ly/2AmgJc5
Read Complaint: http://bit.ly/2AjGWI3
Investigative Report: ABUSE & NEGLECT OF NYS RESIDENTS AT WOODS SERVICES IN PA
Albany, NY - October 30, 2017 - DRNY released a report detailing disturbing abuse, neglect and human rights violations of New York children and adults at Woods Services (“Woods”) in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. DRNY initiated an investigation into Woods in June 2016 after receiving multiple complaints of abuse and neglect. DRNY found an excessive use of physical restraints resulting in serious injuries to residents. Woods often used these illegal restraints as a substitute for appropriate behavioral programming. There were also assaults on residents, including a young female who was beaten with a shoe. Finally, DRNY uncovered poor sanitation, employment abuses, and substandard internal investigation practices.
"Woods Services and the New York State agencies that continue to fund these placements must be held accountable," said Timothy A. Clune, DRNY's Executive Director.
Read Full Report: http://bit.ly/2hlRURH
Read Press Release: http://bit.ly/2hnccuh
LANDLORD THREATENS EVICTION OF FAMILY WITH SERVICE ANIMAL:
Brooklyn, NY - May 16, 2017 – DRNY filed a lawsuit to prevent landlords, Joseph Nikifor and Kathleen Nikifor (the Nikifors), from initiating an eviction proceeding against a family who has a service animal. The Nikifors refused to renew the family’s lease without a pet deposit and threatened eviction if the deposit was not paid Monday. The family has a golden retriever service dog, named Jax. The service dog was prescribed for E.C. and O.C., two young boys with Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, by their physician to ameliorate the symptoms of their disabilities. Their mother, M.C. has spent the last three months trying to explain to the Nikifors that Jax is a service animal and not a pet.
“I told my landlord repeatedly that Jax is prescribed by the boys’ doctor as a service animal and not a pet. My landlord insisted I pay a pet deposit or leave,” said M.C. “Having to suddenly leave our home and uproot our family would be traumatic for my children.”
“Landlords may not extort an extra fee from people who need a service animal,” said DRNY Executive Director Timothy A. Clune.
Read Press Release: http://bit.ly/2rdhNJN
Read Complaint: http://bit.ly/2rdehPC
NEW YORK BAR FOUNDATION
GIVES DRNY $8000 GRANT
April 28, 2017 – The New York Bar Foundation presented a grant of $8,000 to Disability Rights New York (DRNY). This grant will be used to support the Know Your Obligations & Know Your Rights Sign Language project.
DRNY will educate health care providers and people who are deaf or hard of hearing about their rights and obligations under both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the New York State Human Rights Law.
“Many medical providers are unaware of their obligation to provide sign language interpreters to their patients,” said Timothy A. Clune, Esq., Executive Director. “This funding will enable DRNY to conduct statewide education and ensure that people can obtain interpreters to effectively communicate with their doctors.”
Read Press Release:http://bit.ly/2qo2SIB
INVESTIGATIVE REPORT: NORTH COLONIE SD TAKES CORRECTIVE ACTIONS TO ADDRESS FINDINGS OF ABUSE AND NEGLECT OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES AT BLUE CREEK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
4-21-17 -DRNY issued a public report documenting abuse and neglect in a special education classroom at Blue Creek School and the corrective action taken by the North Colonie School District (North Colonie) to address its more troubling practices. DRNY launched an investigation in 2013 after receiving multiple complaints of improper use of physical restraints, failure to notify parents and guardians of the use of physical restraints, and other misconduct threatening the safety and wellbeing of elementary age students with significant disabilities at Blue Creek Elementary School. North Colonie initially refused DRNY access to the school, students, and requested records and DRNY brought a federal lawsuit Disability Rights N.Y. v. N. Colonie Bd. of Educ.. In 2016, the District Court upheld DRNY’s investigative authority.
Read the Full Report: http://bit.ly/2pWfjfj
Read Press Release: http://bit.ly/2pWpT5S
STAFF CHARGED WITH CARING FOR A PERSON WITH A DISABILITY LEAK PRIVATE INFORMATION AND ENDORSE FALSE RUMORS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
4-12-17 - DRNY filed a suit, Allan Walley v. Casey Holtslander and Terri Holtslander, against two Broome Developmental Center staff that allegedly purposefully shared private information about a person with a disability who they were charged with protecting. “We are sending a clear message that there are consequences when you violate our client’s rights,” said Timothy A. Clune, Esq., DRNY Executive Director.
DRNY FAVORABLY SETTLED FEDERAL LAWSUIT AGAINST THE SACHEM CSD THAT DENIED A STUDENT’S USE OF HIS SERVICE DOG FOR NEARLY FIVE YEARS
3-17-17 - After nearly five years of litigation, a child with autism is now able to have his service animal with him in class and at school activities at Sachem Central School District (Sachem) in Ronkonkoma, NY. DRNY favorably settled a lawsuit against Sachem for illegally denying the child the use of his service dog in school and at school functions. The federal lawsuit, filed on behalf of the child and his parents in the Eastern District of New York on May 19, 2015, charged that Sachem, as well as the District’s Board and Superintendent, discriminated against the child by repeatedly refusing to allow the service dog on school property.
Read Press Release: http://bit.ly/2mXDysF
NYS JEOPARDIZES THE RIGHTS OF OVER 5,000 PEOPLE IN ADULT HOME CLASS ACTION & THE NYS ATTORNEY GENERAL SEEKS TO WITHDRAW FROM REPRESENTING THE STATE
3-1-17 - New York State took actions which appeared to be calculated to scuttle a settlement, which DRNY helped reach, that gives over 5,000 people with mental illness the opportunity to leave institutions and live in the community. The State’s Office of Mental Health and Department of Health have jeopardized the viability of the settlement, reached in January 2014, by agreeing to a five month stay of a state regulation limiting admissions of adults with serious mental illness into these highly impacted adult homes.
Read Press Release: http://bit.ly/2lE5rEs
Read Settlement Stipulation:
Read AG Withdrawal Doc:
DRNY PROUDLY ANNOUNCES OUR NEW LEGAL DIRECTOR & GENERAL COUNSEL
DRNY is proud to announce that Jennifer J. Monthie, Esq. has been appointed as Legal Director. Ms. Monthie has spent the last 14 years representing individuals with disabilities, joining Disability Advocates, Inc., (DAI) in 2003 as a staff attorney, before advancing to senior staff attorney and then as DRNY’s Director of the Protection and Advocacy (P&A) for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (PADD), P&A for Assistive Technology (PAAT), and P&A for Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury (PATBI) programs. Her efforts have strengthened the rights of people with disabilities to make their own life choices, learn and live in their community and be free from abuse and exploitation. Ms. Monthie brings her tremendous energy and unwavering commitment to DRNY’s mission of advocating for the civil and legal rights of New Yorkers with disabilities. “It has been an incredible honor to be a part of this important civil rights organization for the last 14 years. I am privileged to be given an opportunity to serve as DRNY’s Legal Director.”
After twenty-seven years of dedicated service, Cliff Zucker, Esq., will step down as Legal Director and continue his service to DRNY as General Counsel. From 1989 until June 2013 he was the founding Executive Director of DAI before DRNY transitioned to the Statewide Protection and Advocacy System for New York State. Mr. Zucker has served as Legal Director and General Counsel of DRNY since 2013. Mr. Zucker has a long and distinguished litigation career with several landmark disability rights cases. He was a lead counsel in two lawsuits against New York State to enforce the integration mandate of the Americans with Disabilities Act on behalf of thousands of persons with mental illness in nursing homes and adult homes which resulted in settlements that will give thousands of people the opportunity to live and receive services in supported housing and other integrated setting in the community. He also represented DAI in litigation against the State of New York which resulted in greatly expanded mental health treatment for state prisoners with serious mental illness and created humane and secure treatment settings for many prisoners with serious mental illness who had suffered in Special Housing Units (solitary confinement). “I’m looking forward to continuing to work with DRNY to advance the rights of people with disabilities.”
Read PDF Release: http://bit.ly/2jAktNw
NEW YORKERS WITH DISABILITIES SEEK IMPLEMENTATION OF TEXT-TO-911 SERVICE FOR ALL
Brooklyn, NY, January 5, 2017 – Nick Dupree, a Queens County resident who cannot speak because he has a tracheotomy and uses a ventilator, and Deborah LoGerfo, a Suffolk County resident who has a hearing impairment, filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York against the City of New York, Nassau County and Suffolk County, seeking an order to compel these municipalities to provide text-to-911 services, which have been available since 2014. Their failure to act is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504). The case has been assigned to Judge Joan M. Azrack and Magistrate Judge Anne Y. Shields.
BELLEVUE HOSPITAL’S USE OF RESTRAINTS IS ALARMING!
DRNY & MHLS CALL FOR ACTION NOW
Albany, NY, November 1, 2016 - In a joint investigation by the Mental Hygiene Legal Service for the First Judicial Department (MHLS) and DRNY, evidence was uncovered demonstrating an unusually high usage of mechanical restraints on patients at Bellevue Hospital Center as compared to other public hospitals in New York City. The report, titled, “Investigation Report: Use of Restraints on Psychiatric Patients at Bellevue Hospital Center,” was published on November 1, 2016. Bellevue’s high incidence of mechanical restraint usage on psychiatric patients is a significant area of concern. As Bellevue’s own policy states, restraint use “has the potential to produce serious consequences, such as physical and psychological harm, loss of dignity, violation of an individual’s rights, feelings of isolation and even death.”
DRNY SEEKS FEDERAL INJUNCTION DECLARING ARTICLE 17A GUARDIANSHIP UNCONSTITUTIONAL
Albany, NY September 26, 2016 – DRNY filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, against New York State; the Unified Court System of The State of New York, Honorable Janet Difiore, as Chief Judge of the New York State Unified Court System; and Honorable Lawrence K. Marks, as Chief Administrative Justice of the New York State Unified Court System, seeking to enjoin the state from appointing guardianships pursuant to Article 17A of the Surrogate Court Procedure Act (Article 17A), because the statute violates the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504).
Albany, NY, September 19, 2016 – Workers with disabilities have unemployment rates double the rate of those in the general workforce and earn as little as half of what people without disabilities earn. Disability Rights New York’s (DRNY), investigation and study, conducted by labor economist Marc Bendick, Jr., Ph.D., demonstrates that these outcomes often arise not because these workers can’t do the job, but instead because employers don’t give them a chance. The first of its kind study in retail fashion employment found an alarming 41% of retailers discriminated against people with disabilities. Read the DRNY Press Release for more.
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/jQ4U5Y3OYSc
DRNY COMMENTS ON NYSED RULE: SUPERINTENDENT’S DETERMINATION OR LOCAL DIPLOMA
Albany, NY, August 2, 2016 - In June, the New York State Department of Education (NYSED) enacted emergency regulations creating a new pathway only for students with disabilities to earn a local high school diploma through a “Superintendent’s Determination.” Before becoming a permanent regulation in September, NYSED must consider PUBLIC COMMENTS SUBMITTED BY AUGUST 22. The potential permanent regulation has very significant implications for students with disabilities, but the public notice of this change has been minimal. There is an overview of the proposal and listed the benefits and concerns, as well as potential modifications to address specific concerns provided by stakeholders. NYSED must consider all comments submitted by the public before making the regulation permanent. Therefore, your voice really matters.
DRNY strongly encourages stakeholders to submit a public comment by email or letter.
RENSSELAER COUNTY POLLING SITES ARE NOT ACCESSIBLE AND IN VIOLATION OF FEDERAL LAW
Albany, NY, August 1, 2016 – Disability Rights New York (DRNY), filed complaints with both the U.S. Department of Justice and the NYS Attorney General’s Office regarding inaccessible polling locations in Rensselaer County that prevent people with disabilities from voting. DRNY found that 29 of the polling sites surveyed were not accessible and in many cases Ballot Marking Devices (BMD) used by people with disabilities were not ready to use or were malfunctioning.
“It is inexcusable that Rensselaer County is still using inaccessible polling locations and voting systems that don’t work,” said Timothy A. Clune, DRNY Executive Director. “If you can’t get in, you can’t vote. Rensselaer County was advised of these problems a while ago and has not taken any action to fix them.”
DRNY FINDS PROBLEMS WITH SOLITARY CONFINEMENT REFORMS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
Albany, NY, July 28, 2016 – Disability Rights New York (DRNY) finds that the NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) and Office of Mental Health (OMH) failed to adequately serve incarcerated people with disabilities. DRNY issued a report following its 2014-2015 monitoring and investigation of the Correctional Alternatives Rehabilitation Unit (CAR) at Sullivan Correctional Facility, which DOCCS opened in May 2014. The report includes findings of abuse and neglect and makes recommendations to DOCCS.
THE JUSTICE CENTER IS FAILING TO PROTECT PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES - DISABILITY RIGHTS NEW YORK CALLS
Albany, NY, July 18, 2016 - In 2013, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo created the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs (Justice Center), with the promise that this agency would effectively investigate and prosecute abuse and neglect of people with disabilities. Over three years later, New York has failed to deliver on that promise.
MAKING HARD TIME HARDER:
REPORT OUTLINES NEED FOR ACCOMMODATIONS FOR INMATES WITH DISABILITIES
Albany, NY, July 1, 2016 - More than 600,000 inmates with disabilities in prisons across the country spend more time in prison, under harsher conditions, than inmates without disabilities, according to research. Today, Amplifying Voices of Inmates with Disabilities (AVID), a nationwide project of disability protection & advocacy organizations, released Making Hard Time Harder: Programmatic Accommodations for Inmates with Disabilities Under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The report outlines lack of accommodations for inmates with disabilities.
DISABILITY RIGHTS NEW YORK SEEKS PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION IN FEDERAL LAWSUIT AGAINST SERVICE PROVIDER FOR FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH REQUESTS BY DRNY TO INVESTIGATE ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE AND NEGLECT
Albany, NY February 19, 2016 – DRNY filed suit against Northern Rivers Family Services, Inc., John Henley, Chief Executive Officer of Northern Rivers Family Services, and Northeast Parent and Child Society, Inc., for illegally denying DRNY access to a residential treatment center and the records of DRNY clients who were residents of this facility. The lawsuit was filed in the United States District for the Northern District of New York.
DRNY's advocacy efforts are highlighted throughout New York State in the media. DRNY works to educate the public on discriminatory practices and other rights violations of New Yorker's with disabilities. DRNY also educates policy makers on the impact of public policy on individuals with disabilities.
Lawyers from a watchdog agency and the state Mental Hygiene Legal Service say they've found that patients on the psychiatric units at Bellevue hospital in Manhattan are physically restrained and forcibly injected with sedatives at dramatically higher rates than patients at other public hospitals in the city. They also found that the hospital allegedly under-reports these incidents, in apparent violation of state policy directives and federal law.
The Justice Center has failed at its core mission, which is to protect individuals with disabilities. It is now apparent that structural reforms are needed to remedy the problems and ensure that the Justice Center provides the essential protections it was intended to give to those who need it most. Read the DRNY Press Release for more: Justice Center
DRNY won its case against Northeast Parent and Child Society! The decision reaffirmed DRNY’s right to access to the facility and the residents to monitor and investigate allegations of abuse and neglect. Please read two recent articles from the Washington TImes and Albany Times Union regarding the decision from the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York.
Washington Times: NY group home operator sued in probes of alleged abuse
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced an agreement today with the City School District of Albany to ensure that the District’s discipline policies and practices do not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin or disability status. With this Agreement, both the Attorney General and the City School District of Albany reaffirm their commitment to fostering safe and effective school climates.
Associated Press Reports on DRNY's Investigation of the Death Investigation. Read more, Handling of Disabled Teen's Death in NY State Care Blasted
DRNY's conducted an investigation of the death of an individual with intellectual and developmental disability.DRNY released a report of its investigation of the death of M.H., who lived in Saint Dominic’s Home, Dominican Hall (“SDH”), a New York Intermediate Care Facility for people with developmental disabilities. DRNY’s investigation concluded that M.H. was seriously neglected in the months preceding his death, causing him great suffering and likely contributing to his death. New York State’s investigation of the matter by its Justice Center for Protection of People with Special Needs (Justice Center) was seriously deficient. Despite overwhelming evidence of neglect, the Justice Center inexplicably failed to find that M.H. was neglected and completely failed to remedy the systemic problems that caused the neglect. Read, Press Release Investigative Report
NY Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a plan to phase out sheltered workshops to comply with a Supreme Court ruling that ensures everyone the right to work in an integrated setting. Jennifer Monthie, Esq. of DRNY, appeared at a public hearing at the University of Buffalo's Center for Tomorrow as a speaker and supporter of competitive employment for individuals with disabilities. Read more, Hearing on Sheltered Workshops. To read DRNY's Jennifer Monthie's, Esq., entire public testimony at the Hearing on Sheltered Workshops, read more at, Public Testimony
Department of Justice files a Statement of Interest supporting DRNY's authority in the North Colonie School Case. Read more, North Colonie School Case
A Statement of Interest was filed in DRNY v. North Colonie that argues that the PAIMI Act should be enforced to protect students with mental illness from abuse or neglect in public schools.
Read more, Statement of Interest Article
New York State Ending Admissions to Sheltered Workshops
New York State ended new admissions to sheltered workshops as of July 1, 2013, and will stop funding for them in 2020 -- the result of the state's April 2013 agreement with the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Read more, Sheltered Workshops Article
DRNY Finds Fault with Program at Ferncliff Manor, School for Adaptive and Integrated Learning.
DRNY conducted an investigation of at Ferncliff Manor, School for Adaptive and Integrated Learning and issued a preliminary report. Read more, Ferncliff Article
DRNY participated in the broadcast. For full details of the "Capitol Pressroom" broadcast, please clink on: Capitol Pressroom
Capitol Pressroom host Susan Arbetter led a one-hour show on Sunmount, a facility which cares for individuals with intellectual disabilities in Tupper Lake, New York to shed more light on recent occurrences at Sunmount.
DRNY filed a lawsuit on March 12th in the Eastern District of New York claims the New York City Department of Corrections (DOC) withheld important records from a federally-mandated disability advocate after they learned guards had brutally attacked a developmentally disabled juvenile inmate at the Robert N. Davoren Complex on Rikers Island. For more information about this article read, DOC Article.
Amid an ongoing federal lawsuit by DRNY over the treatment of students with disabilities, the North Colonie school district is coming under review by the state. For more information about this article read, North Colonie Article
The Special Ed Task Force recently offered a forum on a proposal in the Governor’s budget bill that would set up a procedure where schools could seek a wavier of certain State special ed requirements. The Southern Tier Task Force held its forum which was covered by local media. To view this video click on New 12 coverage.
DRNY, an advocacy group charged with safeguarding disabled New Yorkers is locked in legal combat with the North Colonie school district over whether the group should be allowed to investigate allegations that special education students suffered abuse and neglect in their elementary school. For more information about this article read, North Colonie Article.
Two disability rights attorneys and an institutional abuse survivor participated in a panel discussion entitled “Human Rights Aren’t For Us: Disability & Legalized Abuse,” the third in Lydia Brown‘s (COL ’15) Lecture & Performance Series on Disability Justice that is being held and sponsored by various University and external organizations throughout the academic year. For more information about this article read, Institutional Abuse Article.
Orange was the color to wear at the Bruce M. Wright Memorial Conference Center as dozens gathered at a bullying prevention conference sponsored by the Northern Regional Center for Independent Living and presented by DRNY. For information on this bullying prevention event read, Bullying Prevention Conference.
DRNY threatened to take legal action against the city if it does not develop a plan within 100 days to fix its sidewalks, create and fix curb cuts and install signs so people with disabilities have equal access to the downtown business district. For more information about this article read, Mechanicville Access.