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Group Challenges State Plan for the Disabled

RICHMOND, Va. (CN) - A nonprofit group that serves the disabled want Virginia stopped from building a new institution that will segregate people with intellectual disabilities. In its federal complaint, The Arc says the new building will replace the Southeastern Virginia Training Center, which also isolates its mentally retarded and disabled residents from the community.

The Arc, a nonprofit community-based organization formed to improve services for the mentally handicapped, claims that a state-sponsored study found that every resident of the Center could be served in a community-based program rather than an institution. But that didn't stop Virginia officials from including plans for a new facility in the state budget.

Virginia plans to move 75 residents of the Center to the new building; the rest will be moved to community-based programs for the mentally retarded.

The Arc says Virginia's plan violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. It seeks a declaration that Virginia must provide public and integrated services for the mentally handicapped. And it also wants the budget bill item with the plans for the new facility declared invalid.

The Arc is represented by Jonathan Martinis with the Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy.

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