News from the September 2003
Mike Castle, a Delaware Republican,
shepherded a dangerous IDEA Reauthorization bill to passage in the U.S.
House of Representatives. “It’s about discipline,” he
says. One of the parties in need of discipline is the pesky parent with
the greedy attorney.
Probably he can’t imagine why parents would need attorneys
to deal with their friendly neighborhood school districts anyhow. So he
got the House to cap legal fees and put a two-year statute of limitations
on cases, with a 90-day limit for filing appeals.
Then there’s that silly old paperwork. Parents would receive exactly
one —count ’em, one— notice of procedural safeguards
annually, just one opportunity to learn of their kid’s rights.
The focus for Parent Training Information centers would be on
“improving parent-teacher collaboration.” (Question: Will
a kid have an advocate if everyone’s busy collaborating?)
Anyhow. The only hope is the Senate, where Sen. Jim Jeffords, one of the
original heroes of IDEA, has gone on record saying the Castle bill is
“a bad bill.... This is not just some policy situation,” he
told NPR. “It’s a matter of the constitutional rights of a
child with a disability.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Call your Senator and ask him or her
to watch over the Conference Committee where the House and Senate bills
will be reconciled. Our kids need your help and your senator’s help
• Joey Salas has CP and when he arrived at the University of Texas
to earn his degree in criminal justice, his fellow students wouldn’t
have known what to do with a fellow student who couldn’t even feed
himself. So he taught them, inviting classmates to compete in a pie-eating
contest with hands tied behind their backs. He reports that since then,
“A lot of people have helped me.”
The Rogue of Rogue Bayou
• How the mighty are brought low—now that the FBI has got
the hang of prosecuting health care fraud. Melville Borne of St. Tammany
Parish, Louisiana, was indicted in July for bilking the residents of his
three nursing homes, misusing his employees’ retirement savings,
and “diverting” $6.5 million in Medicare and Medicaid for
patient care to upkeep of his homes and estates, one of them a 150-acre
estate on Rogue Bayou that has four ponds, exotic swans, and two groundskeepers.
Meanwhile, residents at his nursing home hellholes went without air conditioning,
hot water, and clean clothes.
Borne bought himself a corporate jet, too, although all his nursing homes
are located in Louisiana’s backwaters. He faces as many as 125 years
in prison and $16 million in fines.
Refuses the Borgs
• Emma Sullivan, an IL hero of ours who fights the good fight in
Indiana, was recently invited to join the board of a national sellout
group which shall remain nameless here. “No thanks,” she said.
“I don’t want to be assimilated.”
Death by Committee
• Bemoaning the fact that several people previously incarcerated
in state “developmental” institutions are currently in hospitals
on expensive life support, the New Jersey Department of Human Services
has issued new rules to allow a state “ethics” committee to
determine when plugs should be pulled. Joe Young, director of the state’s
Protection and Advocacy System, did some actual P-ing and A-ing, snapping
back as follows: “There is a flippancy that people in poor health
don’t want to be alive... The misperception is, since the person
is cognitively impaired, of course they might want to terminate their
• South Carolina’s Governor Mark Sanford praised the state’s
Disabilities and Special Needs Department in July, saying he “gets
nothing but compliments” about its programs. The same article noted
that 1,600 people in the state are currently on waiting lists for services.
They’re not complaining?
A New Regime
A good place to start getting involved in next year’s elections
is a website, www.moveonpac.org. One of its downloadable posters reads,
REGIME CHANGE BEGINS AT HOME. Time to get involved as if your life depended
on it. More than ever before, it does.
Yoshiko Dart issued a call to action on the anniversary of Justin’s
death, saying “We congratulate all the patriots who have worked
so hard to defend democracy. We need you now more than ever. Democracy
is under attack. Although democracy has seen an explosion of positive
change unequaled in the history of humanity, it is broken, weak and fragile.
We who love democracy must mobilize to save it.”
U.S. to U.N.: Forget About It
• Although it “supports the concept of rights for people with
disabilities,” the United States says it won’t sign any disability
rights treaty issued by the U.N. An ad hoc committee there is gathering
statistics, and “refining the definition” of who’s disabled
and who’s not.
Tomas Lagerwall, secretary general of Rehabilitation International, calls
for a U.N. convention on our rights similar to its successful convention
on the rights of women and children.
“Different is Cool”
• Luke Jackson, a fourteen-year-old British boy with Asperger Syndrome,
looks back on his youth and says, “Until I was about nine years
old, I thought the rest of the world was weird. And maybe I was right!”
He asked everyone reading this to remember, “Different is cool.”
Submit and Re-Submit, Inc.
• The Chicago regional office of the Social Security Administration
“accidentally” tossed out the SSI and SSDI applications of
“at least 570 people” from six states. An audit of its Milwaukee
office found hundreds of backlogged appeals cases, and 700 pieces of unopened
mail dating back months.
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