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DISABILITY ORGANIZATIONS GIVE NEW BUDGET FAILING GRADE FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

The Survival Coalition of Wisconsin Disability Organizations representing more than 40 member groups is giving the new biennial budget failing grades in its support of Wisconsin’s most vulnerable citizens.

Today’s report card assesses impacts on people with disabilities based on funding and policy decisions contained in the new budget. Funding for community-based long-term adult care and public education both received F grades; funding for long-term community-based supports for children, transportation, mental health, and county-based programs all received D’s.

“This budget was sold to the public as necessary in balancing our state’s budget,” says Lynn Breedlove, Survival co-chair. “In reality, there is an imbalance in shared sacrifice here. While people with disabilities have been disproportionately hurt by significant cuts in education and long-term supports, the budget contains new or expanded tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy at a cost of more than $90 million in this budget and $1.6 billion over the next 10 years.”

Policy experts from multiple groups representing the interests of people with disabilities analyzed the new budget for impacts on people with disabilities. They say this budget contains the worst consequences for people with disabilities in recent years.

Click here to view the 2011-2013 Legislative Report Card.

Survival Coalition is a cross-disability coalition working in partnership with local organizations, coalitions, consumers, advocates, and families statewide to promote policies, programs, and practices that advance integrated, individualized, community-based supports and services.

DRW Managing Attorney Monica Murphy Honored as one of 2011′s Women in the Law

Monica and the other Women in the Law honorees were selected based on their work with difficult cases, their balance of work and family, their mentoring of other attorneys, and for furthering the role women play in the legal community. Click here to read the article from the Wisconsin Law Journal.

Congratulations, Monica!

Survival Coalition Shares Concerns about Florida Special Education Voucher Investigation – Cautions Wisconsin

A Florida investigation into fraud and abuse released on June 22 serves as a warning to the Legislature as they plan to push through special education vouchers in Wisconsin. Disability advocates say a plan to create vouchers for students with disabilities in Wisconsin is flawed on many levels, but has now risen to a level of crisis concern for families. Read this release by the Survival Coalition of Wisconsin Disability Organizations.

Click here to read the press release.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial: A cap is no fix

Unless Gov. Scott Walker uses his veto pen, the state’s popular Family Care program for frail elderly and younger adults with disabilities will be capped as part of the state budget bill….

Click here to read the entire editorial.

DRW issues demand letter in teacher abuse case in Appleton

This front page story in the Appleton Post Crescent describes the demand letter which DRW Attorney Jeff Spitzer-Resnick sent to the Appleton Area School District’s attorney regarding a horrific case of teacher abuse of 6 non-verbal children, 5 of whom are represented by DRW.

Click here to read the story on the Post Crescent website.

You can read a redacted version of the full demand letter here: demand letter.

Click here to read and view further coverage of the story on the WBAY website.

Click here to read and view further coverage of the story on the WFRV-TY website.

DRW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LYNN BREEDLOVE, ANNOUNCES HIS RETIREMENT

After 31 years as the Executive Director of Disability Rights Wisconsin (formerly the Wisconsin Coalition for Advocacy), Lynn Breedlove has announced his retirement, effective at the end of December 2011.

“Lynn Breedlove has been an extraordinary leader of Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW), having grown the agency from a staff of five in a small Madison office with a budget of $160,000 to an agency with a staff of 65 in three offices (Madison, Milwaukee, and Rice Lake) and a budget of over $5.5 million,“ said DRW Board President, Jeff Timm. “The list of DRW accomplishments during Lynn’s tenure is impressive. The DRW Board and people with disabilities and their families throughout Wisconsin are deeply indebted to Lynn. The DRW Board is prepared for the challenge of finding Lynn’s replacement for the next chapter in our successful history and look forward to working with him during this transition time. It’s a bit early, but we certainly wish Lynn well in retirement and in the next stage of his career.”

The DRW Board has already developed an Executive Succession Plan and will convene a Transition Committee composed of members of the DRW Board to lead the process of hiring a new Executive Director. Within the next few weeks, the Board will make a formal announcement of the availability of the position and will begin a nationwide search. The process is projected to include some overlap transition time with the new Executive Director.

Disability Rights Wisconsin, a private non-profit group, is part of the federally mandated national system of disability protection and advocacy agencies across the United States to ensure the rights of individuals with disabilities. DRW is a statewide resource for individuals, families, service professionals, elected officials, government agencies and others concerned with disability issues and systems change.

DRW helps people across Wisconsin gain access to services and opportunity through advocacy and legal expertise. We regularly challenge systems and society to create positive change and improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Contact: Joan Karan, Assistant Director, 608-267-0214, Joan.Karan@drwi.org

DRW fights for admission of child with disability into virtual school

DRW filed an appeal of an virtual school open enrollment denial of a boy with a disability in Walworth County earlier this week.

Click here to read coverage of the case in the Janesville Gazette.

Click here to read coverage of the case Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

DRW joins ACLU in filing discrimination complaint against Milwaukee voucher school program alleging disability discrimination

DRW has teamed up with the ACLU to file a disability discrimination complaint with the US Dept. of Justice, against the State of Wisconsin, the Dept. of Public Instruction, and two private voucher schools alleging that the program as a whole and these two schools are violating the ADA and Sec. 504 of the Rehab. Act by failing to serve children with disabilities. You can read the media release here: June 7 release; the cover letter to the complaint here: Cover Letter for Complaint to DOJ 6 7; the complaint itself: Complaint to DOJ re Milwaukee Voucher Program final; and the exhibits supporting the complaint: Exhibits to DOJ WI Voucher Schools Complaint – 6-7-11.

Click here to read coverage in the Wisconsin State Journal.

Click here to read coverage in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Click here to read coverage on the Disability Scoop website.

Click here to read coverage on the American Independent website.

Wisconsin Families Forward Shares the Facts and Announces Press Events!

A new grassroots group of families – Wisconsin Families Forward – is planning press events for next week to highlight the impact of the freeze on community long-term care on new grads and young people with disabilities and their families. Check back at the DRW website for information on press conferences in Appleton and Madison next Thursday and other pending events in Eau Claire and Milwaukee.

Please distribute the Wisconsin Families Forward brochure broadly to create awareness about the dire choices facing families after June 30, 2011. Send family stories, photos and full addresses to Lisa.Pugh@drwi.org; and encourage families to continue to complete our SURVEY.

Most importantly, if you are impacted by the freeze on community long-term care funding in any way, please continue to contact and put pressure on your legislator. Ask them to introduce an amendement to lift the cap and ensure that our young people do not graduate to the couch!

Click here to read the Families Forward brochure

Survival Coalition issues position statement to Joint Finance on expansion of School vouchers

The Survival Coalition of Disability Organizations, to which DRW belongs, issued the following statement to the Joint Finance Committee, urging it not to expand private school voucher programs. Joint Finance is expected to take this issue up on June 2nd. Click the link below to read the statement.

Survival Comments – Executive Action on Biennial Budget DPI Choice