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Need to Know

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‘I’m not safe here’: Schools ignore federal rules

on restraint and seclusion


By Fred Clasen-Kelly, NC Newsline - Jan. 2024

Hannah Russell is the mother of a child with special needs who she says was restrained and secluded in school, a practice some researchers say can cause long-lasting trauma. Russell, a former special education teacher, is now part of a network of parents and advocates in North Carolina that helps families navigate the education system. 

Photos show blood splattered across a small bare-walled room in a North Carolina school where a second grader repeatedly punched himself in the face in the fall of 2019, according to the child’s mom. Read more...

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Rebecca Cokley - The Nation - March 2023

The disability community is reeling this week over the passing of Judith Heumann. Judy, a polio survivor, spent most of her 75 years advocating for the rights of people with disabilities, in school, in employment, in foreign policy, in the United States and globally. She served in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, and pioneered roles at the World Bank and the Ford Foundation. But the reality is that Judy, like so many disabled people, had to work until her death to maintain the quality of life that she needed to stay in the community and avoid being forced against her will into an institution or nursing home.

As Rebecca Vallas at the Disability and Economic Justice Collaborative says, “Disability is a cause and consequence of poverty.” Rules and regulations regarding Social Security, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Workforce Investment Act, and Medicaid govern every decision people with disabilities can make about their economic status, from what college to attend to whether to marry. Read more...

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Congress passed the Developmental Disabilities Bill of Rights Act (The DD Act) in 1975. The DD Act requires each state and territory to establish a Protection and Advocacy system for people with developmental disabilities in their jurisdiction. The PADD (Protection and Advocacy for Developmental Disabilities) protects the legal and civil rights of individuals with developmental disabilities. 

Find your state Disability Rights aka Protection and Advocacy organization.       


The agency is federally funded and does not have the resources to take on all cases, however it is important complete the intake process so that each state can provide an assessment to the government of what is needed but they can not accommodate.

For criminal cases it is important to think of a Criminal Legal System Advocate and a Disability Rights Advocate.  It is best to cast a wide net to many Criminal and Disability organizations in your state who might be interested. It can take time, but at some point will garner a response from someone who can be supportive and get the word out about the circumstance.

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Jane Dunhamn, mother of a 44-year-old daughter born with significant disabilities, says the state needs to take action to close the gap
in healthcare available to minorities with disabilities.

Communities of color have less access to healthcare, but they also have higher rates of certain disabilities. That combination presents
serious challenges to minorities that are suffering from these disabilities. Yet little attention has been given to the problem, which
advocates say stems from racism, whether conscious or unconscious.

As a result, the Legislature is considering a bill -- S-900 -- that will study the issue and make recommendations to the governor and the
Legislature as to what can be done.



People with developmental disabilities who need lifelong "life sustaining" support qualify for the DD Waiver, however, they can only activate the DD Waiver if they qualify for medicaid. This policy is problematic for

individuals who were able to work and save and contribute to their self reliance and participate in societal responsibilities.

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Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Other Related Disabilities (LEND)

The purpose of the LEND program is to improve the health of individuals who have, or are at a higher likelihood for developing, autism or related developmental disabilities by providing graduate-level training in maternal and child health interdisciplinary leadership education in neurodevelopmental and related disabilities programs.


Most states provide financial compensation for family members who enroll in the LEND program.

Fact Sheet

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