DRM Launches its Education Website and Publishes its Student Rights Handbook
Disability Rights Montana is proud to announce the launch of our Education Website and publication of our Student Rights Handbook. The project is designed to help parents, advocates, and educators learn about the legal requirements and resources available for students with disabilities and to help ensure the civil and legal rights of students with disabilities are protected to the maximum extent of the law. The site focuses on the educational rights of children with disabilities, but also covers information applicable to students with disabilities of all ages. Our Education Website can be accessed here on our home page by clicking "Education" on the Menu Bar above or directly at http://disabilityrightsmt.org/education. The Student Rights manual can be found on the site or directly at http://disabilityrightsmt.org/education/student-rights.
On the site you will find information about DRM′s education workgroup, the legal rights of students with disabilities, resources for parents, students and educators, and sample forms to assist parents and advocates in protecting student’s rights. It is our hope that this website will be a valuable resource for everyone working to educate Montanans of all abilities.
We welcome feedback and comments for how we can improve our Education Website as well as information about resources and practitioners we should include. As always, if you have questions, please feel free to contact DRM. DRM’s Education Website and Student Rights Handbook were authored by Tal Goldin, supervising attorney for DRM’s Education Unit, with editing assistance from Kelsi Steele, DRM Education Advocate, and Laurie Danforth, DRM paralegal and executive assistant. The project was supported in part by a generous grant from the Montana Justice Foundation.
Patients Challenge Isolation, Abuse, and Failed Treatment at Montana State Hospital
On August 15, 2016, four patients at Montana State Hospital sued state officials and staff for the isolation, abusive and deficient treatment they have been subjected to at the Hospital in Warm Springs. The lawsuit alleges that officials at the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services as well as staff at the Montana State Hospital have violated state and federal law in their treatment of the four patients. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to stop these practices as well as damages for the patients for the harm they have suffered.
Two of the patients have been subjected to long-term isolation nearly 24 hours a day for more than a year. This has markedly worsened their conditions and caused them extreme psychological and emotional harm.
A third patient was subjected to a traumatic forced "take-down" in the Galen facility, which is administrated by the Montana State Hospital. This was done as punishment for his behavior, even though his behavior is a predictable result of his mental state and illness, which is why he was sent to the facility for treatment in the first place. The entire "take-down" was video recorded.
The fourth patient was subjected, like all others patients in the hospital, to a harsh, illogical, and nonsensical "level system." The "level system" forces patients to "earn" psychiatric treatment, or basic human privileges such as sleeping without the lights on. This system routinely punishes patients for infractions including small acts of kindnesses, like giving someone a cup of coffee.
"We rely on the Montana State Hospital to care for people with serious mental illnesses who need thoughtful, professional, and therapeutic interventions," said Bernie Franks Ongoy, executive director of Disability Rights Montana, which is representing these patients. "Instead these patients have been the victims of abusive, antiquated, and unprofessional treatment, which has made their conditions worse than when they arrived at the facility in the first place."
After the case was filed, District Court Judge Kathy Seeley set a hearing at which the defendants must show cause why a temporary restraining order should not be issued against them. This hearing was held September 19 - 20 and will continue on December 13, 2016.
A copy of the complaint can be obtained by clicking here.
Raffle Winner Donates Trip
The drawing for the Disability Rights Montana raffle was held on June 14, 2016. The raffle for a fishing trip was valued at $500, and included a licensed, insured, professional guide, boat and shuttle service, fishing instruction, terminal tackle such as flies, leaders & tippet, and lunch, all donated by God's Country Outfitters of Lincoln, Montana.
The winning ticket holder, Mark Kelley, of Helena, donated the trip back to DRM to be given to a person with a disability. Names were submitted by DRM staff and then drawn out of a hat. The lucky winner was Melvin Noon, who has a passion for fishing.
The fishing trip took place on the Blackfoot River on August 4th. Mel caught nine fish! He had a good time laughing and joking with his staff and Shane Erickson, the fishing guide. He thoroughly enjoyed his day on the Blackfoot River.
Thank you to all that supported Disability Rights Montana by purchasing raffle tickets. A special thank you to Mark Kelley for donating the trip to a person with a disability and to Shane Erickson, owner and guide with God's Country Outfitters of Lincoln, Montana. A total of $2900 was raised through the raffle and will be used to support Disability Rights Montana and its work to protect the rights of Montanans with disabilities.
Disability Rights Montana License Plate now available
Disability Rights Montana's specialty license plate is now available. You can purchase the plate by visiting your county treasurer's office. A one-time administrative fee and production cost for the specialty plate will be collected along with the standard vehicle registration fee and sponsor donation fee.
$20 Yearly Tax-deductible Donation to DRM
$10 One-time Administration Fee
$10 One-time Production Cost
Please show your support with the DRM license plate! Your purchase of the plate includes a $20 tax-deductible donation to support DRM and its work to protect the rights of Montanans with disabilities.
DRM releases its September issue of its Transition Newsletter. You can access the Newsletter by clicking here. Articles include: What is the PABSS Program and how can PABSS help schools and students and their families?; and What is the Client Assistance Program and Transition services mandated in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). There is also a calendar of upcoming events.