A Legal Victory for Students with Disabilities

In 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District RE-1 that the “IDEA demands more” and requires providing a level of instruction reasonably calculated to permit advancement through the general curriculum. Where that is not a reasonable expectation, the IEP must be “appropriately ambitious” and provide the child the “chance to meet challenging objectives.” The Court remanded the question of whether the school district in the case had met this newly articulated standard. Last week, in a victory for students with disabilities nationwide, the U.S. District Court in Colorado issued a decision finding that the school district did not provide an adequate education to Endrew and must reimburse the family for his private school tuition. The court noted that the IEP provided by the District “was not appropriately ambitious” under the new standard articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court because it did not provide Endrew with the chance “to meet challenging objectives under his particular circumstances.” The Arc filed amicus briefs in support of the plaintiff at both the Supreme Court and District Court levels. Read more about the recent decision here.

Marking the FMLA Anniversary with a Call for Paid Leave

February 5th marked the 25th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The Arc has been excited to take this opportunity to celebrate what the FMLA means to people with disabilities and their families, and to highlight the need for the next step: a comprehensive, inclusive national program of paid family and medical leave. Join us in marking this important month! Invite your members to share their paid leave stories with The Arc; share Debbi and Josh’s FMLA story on social media, and check out our recent op ed in The Hill.

Chapter Benefits Spotlight

A dynamic, diverse, and determined Board of Directors is an enormous asset to a chapter. From expectations for board members including fiduciary responsibilities to succession planning for Board leadership, The Arc’s Standards for Excellence offers high quality resources to help you establish and maintain progressive leadership. Contact Karen Wolf-Branigin or the For Chapters section of The Arc’s website.

Disability Day of Mourning Vigils — March 1

On March 1, the disability community will gather across the nation to remember people with disabilities murdered by their family members or caregivers. For the last six years, ASAN, ADAPT, Not Dead Yet, the National Council on Independent Living, the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, and other disability rights organizations have come together to mourn the lives lost to filicide, bring awareness to these tragedies, and demand justice and equal protection under the law for all people with disabilities. We encourage chapters of The Arc and your members to attend these vigils to mourn the lives of those lost and bring awareness to this horrific trend of violence against our community. Find a vigil site near you. ASAN also has an anti-filicide toolkit available.

America’s Direct Support Workforce Crisis: Report to the President 2017

The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID) has released their 2017 report on the DSP workforce crisis.

The intended outcome of this Report is to ensure that the Administration is “fully aware of and understand the effects of the direct support workforce crisis and the opportunities to address it in ways that strengthen the ability of people with intellectual disability to both participate in and contribute to their communities and the American economy. Not only does the crisis facing this workforce threaten people with intellectual disability and their families; it also undermines the stability, efficiency and ability to grow much needed long-term services and supports and, therefore, undermines the overall U.S. economy.”

Our DSP Toolkit is highlighted in the report (page 34), as well as a quote from The Arc of New London County (page 31). The full report includes:

  • Overview of the direct support workforce
  • Critical challenges faced by the long-term services and supports industry
  • Effects of the workforce crisis
  • Economic and other factors that have influenced the crisis
  • Promising practices to address the direct support workforce crisis

Read the full report.

Your Chance to Show Off your Chapter!

Has your chapter created print or digital products utilizing The Arc’s brand that you’re proud of? We want to see them! Materials can include email headers, social media graphics, building signs, flyers, business cards, you name it! You can email any digital materials to Ashley DuPont, Senior Graphic Designer. Any print materials can be mailed to Ashley at 1825 K Street NW Suite 1200, Washington DC 20006. We can’t wait to see all your amazing work!

NDRN Seeks Participants for Four Focus Groups on Federal Disability Rights Enforcement

The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is conducting a study for the National Council on Disability about the enforcement of  federal disability rights laws and needs the viewpoint of people with disabilities. NDRN will conduct four focus discussion groups, two in February and two in March, for up to 12 – 14 participants. To find out more about the focus groups, and to see if you, or someone you know, would be a good fit to participate, please go to the following link: NDRN Focus Groups.

The Arc Files Amicus Brief in Support of Prisoners Seeking Medical Treatment

The Arc recently participated in an amicus brief before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case Postawko v. Missouri Department of Corrections. Here, the plaintiffs filed a federal class action lawsuit in 2016 on behalf of Missouri prisoners seeking life-saving medical treatment while in prison, alleging that the Missouri Department of Corrections refuses to treat thousands of inmates with Hepatitis C in defiance of medical standards and in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Class certification was granted in 2017 and defendants appealed. The Arc participated in a brief supporting class certification for plaintiffs and asserting the importance of class action lawsuits as an important tool for civil rights enforcement.

President’s Day Recess Advocacy Tools

Members of Congress will be back home this week for the President’s Day recess – and they need to hear from you! This recess, please urge Congress to support community living funding through the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program. This vital program has provided federal funds to states to transition individuals with disabilities and the aging population out of institutional settings and back into their communities. The program expired in late 2016 and the programs are being dismantled across the country, we must act now to extend this program!

Below are tools and resources to support your advocacy:

  1. Promote the Action Alert
    Share this action alert with your networks to direct calls to Members of Congress to sponsor and support the bill.
  2. Share Stories about Community Living
    Stories about community living strengthen The Arc’s advocacy! Ask activists to share their stories about what community living means to them and their families. They can share their stories here.
  3. Go to Town Hall Events & Ask Questions
    Getting a group of advocates together to attend a Town Hall event hosted by a Member of Congress can be a strong way to show community support for an issue. Find Town Hall events near you at townhallproject.com! Print this branded sign with The Arc logo and fill it in with your own message, or “Support Community Living.”

Please tell us about your recess advocacy by filling out this short form. Thank you for your advocacy!

The Arc Responds to House Passage of the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Education and Reform Act

Washington, DC – Today, the House of Representatives passed HR 620, the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Education and Reform Act, a bill that would create additional requirements for filing lawsuits under the ADA. The Arc released the following statement in response to the passage of the bill:

“Individuals with disabilities have faced decades of discrimination, abuse, segregation, and neglect which the ADA was designed to help counter. This sham of a bill weakens the civil rights protections people with disabilities rely on and undermines the opportunities for inclusion made possible by the ADA. The disregard that the authors and supporters of this bill have shown for people with disabilities is an assault on civil rights and an attack on citizens with disabilities.

“Our nation leads the world in respecting and valuing the lives of people with disabilities, fighting tirelessly to promote their rights through landmark legislation like the ADA. This bill is the first step in a dangerous direction and it is unknown where it may lead us. To erase decades of progress is a shameful betrayal of our nation’s values. While there is not a Senate version of this bill yet, we call on our Senators to do the right thing and oppose any attempts to roll back the protections of the ADA. They are our last line of defense against this attack on the civil rights of individuals with disabilities in America,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

If HR 620 becomes law, a person with a disability who is denied access to a business would have to send a letter notifying the business that it is inaccessible and out of compliance with the ADA. The business would then have 60 days to respond and 120 days to make “substantial progress” toward fixing the problem. Only if the business failed to acknowledge the notification or make substantial progress in fixing the violation, could the business be sued. This shift in responsibility for a law that has been on the books for more than 27 years is unacceptable. Complicating and lengthening the notification requirement, thereby restricting the rights of all people with disabilities to have the ADA enforced, further delays their access to and participation in their communities.

HR 620 was drafted in response to concerns about a small number of individuals who have filed ADA lawsuits for financial gain. It is important to note, however, that no monetary damages are available under the ADA; rather, damages are provided under state laws. Thus, HR 620 simply does not solve the problem it is intended to address. It’s only real impact is to dissuade and delay people with disabilities from enforcing their right to be free from discrimination. Excessive lawsuits filed for attorney fees should be addressed through other means aimed at the unscrupulous attorneys involved, not by diminishing the rights of people with disabilities.

 

The Arc advocates for and serves people wit­­h intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 650 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.