Judge Approves Plan to Bolster Rights of Disabled

     ST. PAUL, Minn. (CN) – Nearly four years after the state committed to its creation, Minnesota’s comprehensive plan to integrate residents with disabilities has finally been approved by a federal judge.
     The so-called “Olmstead plan” is named for the landmark 1999 case, Olmstead v. L.C., in which the U.S. Supreme Court found the unjustified segregation of people with disabilities is a form of unlawful discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
     The creation of the plan fulfills a provision of the settlement agreement in a 2009 class action filed against the state.
     Jensen v. DHS accused Minnesota of improperly restraining and secluding as many as 300 patients with developmental disabilities in a residential facility, a chief concern addressed in the court’s approval of the final version of the Olmstead plan.
     “Simply put, this revision of the Olmstead Plan is unlike any other version submitted to the Court,” wrote U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank in his order. “The Court fully expects the State to act on its promises to ensure that the Olmstead Plan will truly put the promise of Olmstead into practice across the state.”
     The plan, created by the Olmstead Subcabinet, is 136 pages of “concrete, reliable, and realistic commitments, accompanied by specific and reasonable timetables,” Frank wrote, including goals for restrictions on the type and frequency of restraint and seclusion.
     “These goals include specific numeric goals for reducing the use of restrictive procedures by disability service providers, reducing the number of Behavior Intervention Reporting Form reports of restrictive procedures, completely prohibiting the use of mechanical restraint by disability service providers with limited exceptions to prevent serious injury, and reducing the emergency use of restrictive procedures in schools with a strategy directed at the eventual elimination of all seclusion in schools,” he continues.
     The state’s “measurable goals” on decreasing and eliminating wait lists for services are also reasonable, Frank ruled.
     In spite of his overall glowing review of the plan and process, Frank cautioned the state to remain “vigilant” in assuring critics’ predictions do not come to fruition, such as the fear that people who choose not to live and work in integrated settings will be forced to go against their wishes or be forgotten.
     “The goal of placing individuals with disabilities in the most integrated setting must be balanced against what is appropriate and desirable for the individual,” the order states (italics in original). “The Olmstead Plan is not about and should not be construed as forcing the closure of certain facilities or forcing integration where it is neither appropriate nor desirable.”
     The court, Frank wrote in the final paragraph of the order, has ongoing jurisdiction over the plan and will ensure that the state complies with its commitments.

%d bloggers like this: