RENSSELAER COUNTY POLLING SITES ARE INACCESSIBLE & VIOLATE FEDERAL LAW
DRNY issued a new report today highlighting Rensselaer County's violations of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA guarantees voters with disabilities the right to fully accessible polling places.  DRNY surveyed eight (8) polling sites in Rensselaer County during the June 26, 2018 federal primaries. Seven (7) of the eight (8) sites surveyed were found to have at least two (2) significant accessibility barriers.
Rensselaer County Report
Press Release


DRNY COMMENTS ON OPWDD MEDICAID MANAGED CARE ORGANIZATION PLAN

​Albany,  NY - October 3, 2018 - DRNY  submitted comments  on  the Draft  New  York  State  Medicaid Managed  Care  Organization  I/DD  System  Transformation  Requirements  and  Standards  to  Serve  Individuals  with  Intellectual  and/or  Developmental  Disabilities  in  Specialized  I/DD  Plans.

Comments

Press Release



DRNY COMMENTS ON EMERGENCY REGULATION 14 NYCRR § 629.1

​Albany,  NY - September 28, 2018 - DRNY has submitted comments on the Emergency Regulation 14 NYCRR § 629.1 enacted by OPWDD.  DRNY has an interest in ensuring that people with disabilities are able to receive the support they need to live independently in their communities through the Home and Community Based Services (“HCBS”) Waiver.

Comments

Press Release



​RAISE THE AGE PROPOSED REGULATIONS HARMFUL TO YOUTH WITH DISABILITIES

Albany,  NY - August  31,  2018    DRNY  has  submitted  comments  on  the  “Raise  the  Age”  detention  regulations  proposed  by  the  State  Commission  of  Correction  (SCOC),  urging  revisions  to  protect  youth  with  disabilities.      There  are  critical  gaps  in  the  proposed  standards  for  youth  with  disabilities  who  will  be  confined  in  the  new  Specialized  Secure  Juvenile  Detention  (SSD)  facilities.  This  new  type  of  juvenile  detention  facility  will  house  older  youth  as  the  state  begins  to  implement  Raise  the  Age  legislation  to  end  the  prosecution  of  all  16-  and  17-year  olds  as  adults.  The  SCOC  must  recognize  the  disproportionate  number  of  youth  with  disabilities  who  will  be  housed  in  SSD  facilities  and  implement  appropriate  standards  of  care  to  safeguard  their  health  and  safety.  ​

Press Release

Comments


ACCESS  TO  RECORDS  DENIED BY DOCCS

Albany, NY – August 15, 2018 –  ​DRNY filed  a  lawsuit  against  the  New  York  State  Department  of  Corrections  and  Community  Supervision  in  the  Northern  District  of  New  York.    DRNY  has  filed  this  litigation  to  enforce  its  authority  under  the  Protection  &  Advocacy  (P&A)  Acts  to  obtain  access  to  the  records  of  32  inmates  with  disabilities,  plus  one  inmate  who  died  in  DOCCS’s  custody.  DOCCS  has  obstructed  DRNY  access  to  these  records. 


“DOCCS  appears  to  be  intentionally  thwarting  our  efforts  to  investigate  a  death  and  other  rights  violations  by  failing  to  timely  provide  the  requested  records,”  Timothy  A.  Clune,  DRNY  Exec.  Dir.,  “They  are  clearly  violating  federal  law.”

Complaint

Press Release


DOCCS & OMH SYSTEMIC DEFICIENCIES CONTRIBUTE TO INMATE SUICIDE​

Albany, NY – July 30, 2018 –  On November 7, 2017 Disability Rights New York (DRNY) issued a findings letter to NYS Department of Corrections & Community Supervision (DOCCS) and NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) regarding the suicide of Benjamin Van Zandt. 

In October of 2014, Mr. Van Zandt was a twenty one (21) year old patient with serious mental illness residing in the Special Housing Unit (SHU) at Fishkill Correctional Facility. After an altercation with another patient on October 19, 2017, Mr. Van Zandt was moved to a confinement cell pending a disciplinary hearing. In less than twenty-four (24) hours he told staff he felt suicidal. 

Over the course of the next eleven (11) days, both DOCCS and OMH ignored Mr. Van Zandt’s mental health history and his voiced fear of feeling unsafe and suicidal. On October 30, 2014 Mr. Van Zandt was returned to SHU and attended a Tier II disciplinary hearing where he received a sanction of thirty days of keeplock confinement. Mr. Van Zandt committed suicide just a few hours after DOCCS imposed the confinement sanction. 

“Benjamin should be alive today. He specifically told DOCCS & OMH staff that he did not feel safe in solitary confinement and was afraid he would hurt himself. Instead of taking steps to help him, they ignored his pleas and kept him locked in solitary confinement,” said Tim Clune, DRNY Exec. Dir. “What did they expect would happen?”


DOCCS & OMH have continually rejected recommendations to change procedures dating back as far as 2007. Recommendations citing that ICP patients transferred to SHU experienced exacerbation of mental health symptoms and that housing alternatives to SHU were necessary. 

Despite follow up inquires by DRNY, over the past eight months, neither NYS DOCCS nor NYS OMH have responded to this letter. 

Read Press Release


NEW YORK STATE POLLING SITES ARE INACCESSIBLE & VIOLATE FEDERAL LAW​

Albany, NY – July 19, 2018 –  DRNY issued new reports today highlighting counties in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA guarantees voters with disabilities the right to fully accessible polling places. In total, DRNY surveyed 79 poll sites throughout NYC, Erie and Wyoming counties during the September 2017 Primary Elections and the November 2017 General Elections.


DRNY found a variety of access barriers in all counties reported on. These barriers include blocked or narrow paths to voting booths and voting machines with screens that were visible to people in the voting area. Screens that are visible to others compromises voter privacy, thereby restricting access to voting.

Read Erie County Report

Read NYC Report

Read Wyoming County Report

Read Press Release

Watch Spectrum News on Reports



DRNY SUES LANDLORD FOR DENYING ACCESS RAMP
Brooklyn, NY – May 29, 2018 –Donna Rubin has been unable to leave her home, without being lifted out, because her landlord refuses to let her install a wheelchair-accessible ramp. She has secured all of the funding to pay for the ramp. After spending over $30,000 to be lifted out of her home, and exhausting her money, she couldn’t even afford to visit her fiancé’s bedside prior to his death. 
“The landlord’s refusal to allow Ms. Rubin to build a ramp will not go unaddressed,” said Tim Clune, DRNY Exec. Dir. “There is no excuse and this is just pure discrimination.”
Read Press Release: http://bit.ly/2L4dCGj
Read Lawsuit: http://bit.ly/2L5gyTk



DRNY FILES CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT OVER INACCESSIBLE DOLLAR GENERAL STORES

Albany, NY – May 15, 2018 – DRNY filed a class action suit against the Dollar General Corporation for failing to make their New York stores accessible to people with mobility disabilities. Jennifer Rossman, a wheelchair user, wants to shop at her Dollar General store. However, large stocking carts, cardboard displays and merchandise stacked in aisles and outside the store’s entrance prevented her from shopping. Jennifer is not alone. DRNY found similar problems in 75 other New York Dollar General stores.
“When your stores are inaccessible, it is not just a bad business decision, it is against the law,” said Tim Clune, DRNY Exec. Dir. 
Read Class Action Suit: 
http://bit.ly/2Ihoeoh
Read Press Release: http://bit.ly/2rK9bcx


NYS COURT OF APPEALS DECISION PROTECTS NYC TENANTS WITH DISABILITIES
Brooklyn, NY – May 14, 2018 –In a recent decision, the Court of Appeals preserved the rights for all New York City tenants with disabilities and ensured that Irene Politis, a senior with a mobility disability, could access her apartment.  Marine Holdings, LLC, et al., v. New York City Commission on Human Rights, et al., a case that Disability Rights New York (DRNY) supported with an Amicus Brief, was taken to the highest Court in New York after Ms. Politis’ landlord refused to install a wheelchair-accessible entrance and ramp to her apartment. Access to accessible housing is critical for tenants with disabilities and many must seek modifications from the landlord to their apartments to accommodate their needs. DRNY argued that to refuse an accommodation the landlord must prove hardship. Not only does the law explicitly place this burden on landlords, but the negative consequences of imposing such a burden on tenants like Ms. Politis would be dramatic. 
“People are often forced out of their homes because their landlords refuse to make them accessible,” said DRNY Executive Director Timothy A. Clune. “The Court of Appeals has affirmed a well-established responsibility of landlords and protected tenants with disabilities.”
Read the Court Decision here:
  https://www.nycourts.gov/ctapps/Decisions/2018/May18/45mem18-Decision.pdf

​Read Press Release: http://bit.ly/2wyIi0e



​RENSSELAER COUNTY POLLING SITES REMAIN INACCESSIBLE​
Albany, NY – April 16, 2018 – DRNY filed a second complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) against Rensselaer County for preventing people with disabilities from voting.  In 2016, after DRNY filed a similar complaint, the DOJ demanded Rensselaer County take corrective action to remedy violations. Despite these demands, for the third straight election, DRNY has found inaccessible polling places in Rensselaer County. During the last election, 90% of the sites surveyed by DRNY violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal laws.  
Read DRNY’s Rensselaer County Report: 

http://bit.ly/2K4Gkai

Read Press Release: http://bit.ly/2K1cbJ7


DRNY COMMENTS ON OPWDD HCBS WAIVER TRANSITION PLAN

NYS is fast tracking a major overhaul to the HCBS Waiver program, which covers almost all Medicaid services under OPWDD, and begins on July 1, 2018.  The new 1115 Waiver Transition Plan is extremely complex and lacked ample input from parents, advocates and individuals.  DRNY has provided ongoing comments on the proposal:

DRNY Comments on 3-19-18
DRNY Comments on 1-5-18
DRNY Comments on 8-21-17
DRNY Comments on 8-4-17

You can learn more at OPWDD local “forums” in April, see list here: https://on.ny.gov/2pJ8wac
Read OPWDD Response to Comments: https://on.ny.gov/2pFqieE



FEDERAL COURT RULED LSAT TEST PROVIDER DISCRIMINATED AGAINST PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
Albany, NY – March 21, 2018 -  The Law School Admission Council routinely denied testing accommodations & flagged test scores of people with disabilities when scores were sent to law schools. The Court said that despite over 5,000 requests in the 2017-18 testing cycle, LSAC processed only 8 appeals.
Read Press Release: http://bit.ly/2FZ00dD
Read Court Order:
 http://bit.ly/2HM01BZ


NYS AGREES TO IMPROVE PROCESS FOR HELPING NYC ADULT HOME RESIDENTS WITH MENTAL ILLNESS TRANSITION INTO THE COMMUNITY
Brooklyn, NY – March 14, 2018 - In the case of O’Toole v. Cuomo, DRNY is co-counsel to the class of thousands of adult home residents who have the opportunity to move to the community if they so choose. In a new supplemental agreement, NYS has agreed to provide as many supported housing units as necessary to afford all adult home residents with serious mental illnesses the opportunity to live in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs, and provide and maintain community services and support.
Read Press Release:
 http://bit.ly/2Fz3vey



JUDGE SHARPE GRANTS SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN DRNY V. WISE (JUSTICE CENTER)

Albany, NY – February 28, 2018 - Early yesterday morning, Senior Judge Gary L. Sharpe found that the New York State Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs (Justice Center), knowingly violated federal law by redacting information from records provided to DRNY, withholding records DRNY relies up to conduct investigations, and failing to timely comply with disclosure obligations.

The court held that the Justice Center's conduct deprived DRNY of its federal right to promptly access un-redacted records.

“The Justice Center must now comply with federal law and stop undermining our Congressional mandate to protect and advocate for people with disabilities.” Tim Clune, DRNY Exec. Dir.

Read Press Release: http://bit.ly/2FgC7ky



DRNY FILES AMICUS BRIEF TO PRESERVE REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS IN NYC HOUSING

Albany, NY – February 21, 2018 – A critical protection for New York City (NYC) tenants with disabilities is at risk. Because affordable accessible housing is very rare in NYC, tenants with disabilities must request that their landlords modify their apartments to accommodate their needs. The NYC Human Rights Law explicitly requires that landlords prove an undue hardship to deny the accommodation. Despite this clear language, a New York appeals court ignored the statue and required the tenant to show that the request was not overly burdensome.  

The decision is being appealed to New York State’s highest court.  Disability Rights New York (DRNY) has been granted permission to file an Amicus Brief in this case.  If this decision is not reversed, many NYC tenants with disabilities will go without needed accommodations and be forced out of their homes.

“Placing a greater burden on people with disabilities to have the accommodation they need to remain in their home is unacceptable,” said DRNY Executive Director Timothy A. Clune. “The law is clear and the Courts need to make sure it is followed.”

Read DRNY’s Brief:
http://bit.ly/2CccIXQ

Read Press Release:http://bit.ly/2CdtFS7



WORKSHOPS DON’T WORK – PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES DESERVE MORE
Albany, NY – February 8, 2018Despite Federal laws rejecting the unnecessary segregation of individuals with disabilities, New York State maintains a below minimum wage workshop system. These segregated programs have been operating for decades under a false assumption that people with disabilities must participate in intensive segregated pre-employment training to be employable. Nearly 9000 New Yorkers are in sheltered workshops, making
such things as orange road flags for construction projects, with minimal opportunity for inclusive employment while
being paid sub-minimum wages. A DRNY investigation of over 40 New York sheltered workshops found that appropriate employment opportunities were not being provided to individuals.
The State planned on closing all sheltered workshops by 2019, but then pushed that date to 2022. Now the State has proposed regulations attempting to eliminate certain requirements on providers of sheltered workshops. By doing so, the State interferes with the plan to transition New Yorkers out of sheltered workshops and into competitive employment. DRNY filed comments on the proposed regulations.
“New York’s Sheltered Workshop system doesn’t work and this failed policy must end immediately. It is unconscionable that the State extended the program for another 3 years,” said DRNY Executive Director Timothy A. Clune. “People need real work opportunities now, not sub-minimum wages with reduced accountability, which is what these amendments offer."

DRNY’s Comments: http://bit.ly/2sahLnF

Read Press Release: http://bit.ly/2FU8XEv



​DRNY FINDS PROPOSED NYS JAIL REGULATIONS ON SEGREGATED CONFINEMENT LACKING​

Albany, NY, January 10, 2018 – DRNY identified serious deficiencies in New York State’s proposed amendments on “Inmate Confinement and Deprivation” in jails. Specifically, the proposed regulations fail to address the needs of people with disabilities and the significant risk of harm when placing people with disabilities in segregated confinement. Inmates with serious mental illness are disproportionately punished in jails with segregated confinement.  Once in these segregated settings, many experience mental health deterioration from the isolating conditions and the lack of mental health treatment.

“These regulations fail to address the extreme hardship that segregated confinement causes those with serious mental illness and other disabilities,” said DRNY Executive Director Timothy A. Clune.  “While DRNY’s recommendations will improve the regulation, ultimately, New York State should be taking steps to eliminate the use of segregated confinement for people with disabilities and provide critical mental health services.”

Press Release: http://bit.ly/2CMZUnG

​DRNY Comments: http://bit.ly/2D8XZuM



DRNY APPEALS ABSTENTION RULING IN ARTICLE 17A GUARDIANSHIP CASE

Albany, NY, December 18, 2017 – DRNY filed its brief challenging the dismissal of DRNY v. New York State, et. al. DRNY seeks to stop the state from terminating all decision making rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities under Article 17A of the Surrogates Court Procedure Act (Article 17A) without due process or equal protection of the law. In August 2017, the District Court ruled that it would abstain from hearing DRNY’s case because DRNY could bring this action in State court.  A key responsibility of the Federal Courts is to determine when State laws, like Article 17A, violate the United States Constitution and Federal laws. Without such Federal Court review, citizens cannot challenge State laws that violate their fundamental rights.  DRNY will continue to challenge this archaic and unconstitutional law.

Press Release:  http://bit.ly/2CzmlMu
Appeal: 
http://bit.ly/2CA91HH



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, 2017DRNY 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

(Warning: With Graphic Abuse Pictures)
Read Press Release:  http://bit.ly/2hnccuh



Investigative Report:  Report and Recommendations Concerning Attica Correctional Facility’s RMHU

Albany, NY - September 12, 2017 - DRNY issued a public report highly critical of how the State operates a mental health program at Attica Correctional Facility. DRNY found that the State has abused and neglected prisoners in Attica’s Residential Mental Health Unit (RMHU). The State’s operation of the program violates the “SHU Exclusion Law,” a law intended to protect individuals with serious mental illness from the harmful effects of solitary confinement. The RMHU is jointly operated by the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) and Office of Mental Health (OMH).
Read Report:
 http://bit.ly/2vScvCw
Read Press Release: http://bit.ly/2vS7lqb



84% OF ERIE COUNTY POLLING PLACES SURVEYED BY DRNY ARE INACCESSIBLE TO VOTERS WITH DISABILITIES!
Albany, NY - September 11, 2017 - DRNY issued a public report based on surveys conducted during the State General Elections on 11-8-16 that found an alarming 84% of the polling sites violated the ADA.
The right to vote is one of the most important rights of all Americans. “It is inexcusable that Erie County is still using inaccessible polling locations and voting systems that don’t work for people with disabilities,” said Timothy A. Clune, DRNY Executive Director. “If you can’t get in, you can’t vote.”
Read Report:
 http://bit.ly/2fdOH5E 
Read Press Release: http://bit.ly/2fdKkrl



​Investigative Report:  Report & Recommendations on Americans With Disabilities Act Coordinators at New York State and Local Government Entities

Albany, NY - July 19, 2017 - DRNY issued a public report after surveying 156 city, town, and village governments in New York State and concluded that 74% were out of compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).  Under the ADA, public entities with 50 or more employees must designate an employee to coordinate ADA compliance. The ADA Coordinator is the primary contact for people with disabilities who must ensure equal access to public services and programs. DRNY has demanded immediate action to correct the deficiencies identified in its Report. 

Read the Full Report: http://bit.ly/2sZsIVe
Read Press Release: http://bit.ly/2vk5nPE



NIAGARA REHABILITATION AND NURSING CENTER ABUSES AND NEGLECTS RESIDENTS:
Albany, NY - July 11, 2017 - DRNY issued a public report documenting abuse and neglect at Niagara Rehabilitation and Nursing Center (NRNC), a skilled nursing facility in Niagara Falls, NY. DRNY launched its investigation of NRNC in Nov. 2016 after receiving multiple complaints of the poor conditions of the facility and the inferior care provided to residents.
“DRNY uncovered serious systemic practices that put residents at risk of physical and emotional harm,” said DRNY Executive Director Timothy A. Clune, Esq. “NRNC must immediately remedy these issues. We will continue to monitor NRNC.”
Read Press Release: 
http://bit.ly/2sQuGaf
Read Full Report: http://bit.ly/2sQcXjj



INACCESSIBLE POLLING SITES IN GREENE COUNTY VIOLATE FEDERAL LAW:
Albany, NY - June 9, 2017 - 80% of the polling places surveyed by DRNY in Greene County were inaccessible to voters with disabilities. DRNY issued a public report of its findings from the 2016 Elections.
The right to vote is one of the most important rights of all Americans. “It is inexcusable that Greene County is still using inaccessible polling locations and voting systems that don’t work,” said Tim Clune, DRNY Executive Director. “If you can’t get in, you can’t vote.” 
Press Release:
 http://bit.ly/2r36eRW
Full Report: http://bit.ly/2r2KmGj



HIGH SCHOOLER WITH DISABILITIES DENIED RIGHT TO PLAY BASKETBALL
Albany, NY - May 17, 2017 - B.M., a HS student with disabilities, filed a lawsuit challenging the denial of eligibility to play basketball by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA), and Section IV of NYSPHSAA. B.M. loves basketball and has been a proud member of his high school’s team for four seasons. However, his disabilities have limited his play, including only playing eight minutes in one season. “I've played basketball since I was in first grade and enjoy being part of a team,” said B.M. “Being competitive motivates me to want to go to school even when I'm hurting.”
Read Press Release:
 http://bit.ly/2pUUfoZ
Read Complaint: http://bit.ly/2pUL3kI



LANDLORD THREATENS EVICTION OF FAMILY WITH SERVICE ANIMAL:
Brooklyn, NY - May 16, 2017DRNY 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.

Read Press Release: http://bit.ly/2nGcFN8
Read Complaint: http://bit.ly/2nGadGA



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:

 http://bit.ly/2lE9pNc
Read AG Withdrawal Doc: 

http://bit.ly/2lE4Z9m
Read Court Transcript: 
http://bit.ly/2lDTOxg



DRNY PROUDLY ANNOUNCES OUR NEW LEGAL DIRECTOR & GENERAL COUNSEL

1-4-17 - 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.


​Text-To-911 Complaint: http://bit.ly/2iZ9eeF
Press Release: http://bit.ly/2iZc2Zg 
911.gov: www.911.gov/textto911.html



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.”​

Read Full Report Here

Read Press Release



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).

Read Full Complaint Here

​Read Press Release




EMPLOYEES WHO USE WHEELCHAIRS ARE OUT OF FASHION IN NEW YORK!
NEW STUDY FINDS “NO FOOT IN THE DOOR” FOR QUALIFIED JOB SEEKERS AT 41% OF NEW YORK CITY FASHION RETAILERS.


Watch Video:

Unfashionable Hiring Practices


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

​​Read Full Report Here



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.

Read DRNY Comments Here



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.”

Press Release

Watch DRNY Video: #FIXITNOW

DOJ Complaint

NYS AG Complaint



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.

Read Full Report Here

Press Release




THE JUSTICE CENTER IS FAILING TO PROTECT PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES - DISABILITY RIGHTS NEW YORK CALLS

FOR REFORMS

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.

Press Release



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.

Press Release

AVID Project Website



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.

Read Complaint Here

Press Release​​

DRNY PRESS RELEASES

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.

DRNY in the News

ACCESSIBILITY IN POLLING PLACES COMING UP SHORT

By Capital Tonight Staff  |  July 25, 2018​


Polling places in New York are still coming up short on accessibility, according to a report from Disability Rights New York.


The group looked at polling sites in New York City and in Erie and Wyoming Counties to make sure the stations were set up so a disabled person would be able to vote with full privacy.


92 percent of the Erie County locations did not meet the standards, and 100 percent of the sites in Wyoming had issues.


Here to talk more about the problem and how to fix it, is DRNY Executive Director Tim Clune.


Watch Spectrum News Interview


Five years in, critics say NY agency offers little justice for disabled

By Bethany Bump, July 23, 2018


ALBANY — Over a recent three-year period, 10,117 vulnerable New Yorkers died while in state care or the care of a program overseen by the state.

They were loved ones with intellectual or physical disabilities, forgotten souls battling addiction, troubled children and teens, and adults who bore the weight of mental illness.

In 287 of those deaths, an allegation of abuse or neglect at the hand of a caretaker, employee or authority figure was reported and subsequently investigated. In at least 140 of those, the state Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs determined abuse or neglect likely occurred.

Not a single criminal charge was brought in response.

It's this track record — documented in annual reports to the governor and legislature from 2015 to 2017 — that has kept lawmakers and advocates questioning the investigative agency's willingness to hold wrongdoers accountable over the five years since it was created.

Read Full Article



Report: Bellevue Restrains Mentally Ill Patients Excessively & Erratically​

​By Ben Hattem, Gothamist.com | Nov. 28, 2016


​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.

Read Full Story Here



THE JUSTICE CENTER IS FAILING TO PROTECT PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES - 
DISABILITY RIGHTS NEW YORK CALLS FOR REFORMS​


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 Wins Northeast Parent and Child Society Case


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

Times Union: Disability group wins fight to enter Schenectady facility



A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN ANNOUNCES AGREEMENT TO DISMANTLE SCHOOL TO PRISON PIPELINE IN ALBANY SCHOOLS

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.​


Read more, Agreement to DisMantle School to Prison Pipeline in Albany Schools.


DRNY Finds Fault with State's Death Investigation


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 Investigative Report: The Death of M.H.


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


DRNY Testifies before a Senate Hearing in Buffalo Regarding Sheltered Workshops


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 


Federal Department of Justice Interested in North Colonie School Case


Department of Justice files a Statement of Interest supporting DRNY's authority in the North Colonie School Case.  Read more, North Colonie School Case


Department of Justice files Statement of Interest in DRNY v. North Colonie Board of Education, et al.


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 Appears on "Capitol Pressroom"


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.  


NYC DOC Allegedly Withholds Records on Violence Against Developmentally Disabled Juvenile Inmate


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.



State Reviewing North Colonie School Program


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



Special Education Task Force Event


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.



Advocacy Group Fights District


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.



Disability rights advocates speak to students about institutional abuse and torture in America


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.



Bullying Prevention Conference


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 warns Mechanicville on access for disabled


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.