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Press Releases

WHEELCHAIR USERS IN NYC EXPOSED TO HARMFUL TREATMENT BY NYPD

Albany, NY - October 22,2018: DRNY is joining a class action suit initiated by Beldock Levine & Hoffman LLP and Michael L. Spiegel, Esq, against NYPD / NYC for exposing wheelchair users to harmful and discriminatory treatment at the time of arrest. People have been forcibly removed from wheelchairs and/or left in NYPD facilities, including cells and bathrooms. Unable to have their mobility disabilities accommodated, they are exposed to indignities and physical harm during the arrest processing.

Press Release with Full Report

RENSSELAER COUNTY POLLING SITES ARE INACCESSIBLE & VIOLATE FEDERAL LAW

Albany, NY – October 11, 2018 – Disability Rights New York (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.

The June 2018 federal primary marks the fifth (5th) straight election that barriers have been found that prevent voters from voting in Rensselaer County.

Press Release with Full Report

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. ​

Comments
Press Release

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

ACCESS TO SERVICES DENIED

Albany, NY - August 8, 2018:  Disability Rights New York (DRNY) filed a lawsuit on behalf of three named Plaintiffs against New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) in the Western District of New York. DRNY alleges that DOCCS has violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12182 et seq. and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (“Section 504”), 29 U.S.C. § 794. DRNY is seeking class certification.

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.

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.

Erie County Report
NYC Report
Wyoming County Report
Press Release
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.”

Complaint 
Press Release 

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. 

Complaint 
Press Release

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.”

Decision
Press Release 

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 Disability Act and other federal laws.  

Rensselaer County Report
Press Release

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:

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

You can learn more at OPWDD local “forums”  
OPWDD Response to Comments

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.

Court Order 
Press Release

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.

Press Release 

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.

Press Release

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.”

Brief
Press Release

WORKSHOPS DON’T WORK – PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES DESERVE MORE

Albany, NY – February 8, 2018 – Despite 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."

Comments
Press Release

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.”

Comments
Press Release

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.

Appeal
Press Release

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. 

Complaint
Press Release

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.

Warning: With Graphic Abuse Pictures
Full Report
Press Release 

INVESTIGATIVE REPORT: REPORT & 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).

Full Report
Press Release

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.”

Full Report
Press Release

INVESTIGATIVE REPORT: REPORT & RECOMMENDATIONS ON ADA COORDINATORS AT NYS & LOCAL 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. 

Full Report 
Press Release

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.”

Full Report
Press Release

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 
Report

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.”

Complaint
Press Release

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. 

Complaint
Press Release

 

NEW YORK BAR FOUNDATION  GIVES DRNY $8000 GRANT

Albany, NY 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.”

Press Release

INVESTIGATIVE REPORT:  NORTH COLONIE SD TAKES CORRECTIVE ACTIONS TO ADDRESS FINDINGS OF ABUSE AND NEGLECT OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES AT BLUE CREEK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Albany, NY April 21, 2017 -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. 

Full Report
Press Release

STAFF CHARGED WITH CARING FOR A PERSON WITH A DISABILITY LEAK PRIVATE INFORMATION AND ENDORSE FALSE RUMORS ON SOCIAL MEDIA 

Albany, NY April 12, 2017 - 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.

Complaint
Press Release

DRNY FAVORABLY SETTLED FEDERAL LAWSUIT AGAINST THE SACHEM CSD THAT DENIED A STUDENT’S USE OF HIS SERVICE DOG FOR NEARLY FIVE YEARS

Albany, NY March 17, 2017 - 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.

Press Release

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

Albany, NY March 1, 2017 - 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.

AG Withdrawal Doc
Court Transcript
Press Release
Settlement 

DRNY PROUDLY ANNOUNCES OUR NEW LEGAL DIRECTOR & GENERAL COUNSEL

Albany, NY January 4, 2017 - 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.”

Press Release

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.

Complaint
Press Release
911.gov

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.”

Full Report 
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).

Complaint
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.

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. 

Full Report 
Press Release
Video

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.

Comments

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.”

DOJ Complaint
NYS AG Complaint
Press Release
Video: #FIXITNOW

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.

Full Report 
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.

Complaint
Press Release