Senator Lucio's Letterhead

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 3, 2009
CONTACT: Doris Sanchez, Press Secretary
Phone: (512) 463-0385

Sen. Lucio files State School Bill of Rights Act Legislation
"Bill of Rights Attached Below"

Austin, TXSen. Eddie Lucio Jr. today filed legislation creating a State School Bill of Rights Act to protect the civil rights of the more than 4,500 individuals living in state schools and centers after reports of widespread abuse and neglect.

Senator Lucio's legislation follows the December 2008 findings of a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation of Texas state schools, which cited 53 deaths from preventable causes, in addition to hundreds of injuries resulting from neglect and abuse. State schools provide residential supports and services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

v"Through Senate Bill 639, we hope to ensure that residents, advocates and families fully understand the rights that every state school resident is entitled to," said Sen. Lucio. "The Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) already publishes a set of rights for state school residents, but my bill goes further to specify these rights and crystallizes them in Texas Statute."

"The DOJ report proves that as a state, we have failed this population. As such, it is crucial that our leadership speak with one voice to emphasize that these abuses will not be tolerated," explained Sen. Lucio.

Sen. Lucio's bill complements efforts by Gov. Rick Perry declaring a legislative emergency today for the protection of residents in state schools, and a bill by Sen. Jane Nelson to require a gubernatorial appointment for the position of Ombudsman to investigate injuries and deaths, and monitor these facilities.

"My bill provides legislative recognition that persons, regardless of disability, be treated with dignity and respect," said Lucio. "And although the vast majority of our state school employees deserve to be commended for their work, it is essential that we refuse to tolerate any behaviors that violate the civil rights of other citizens."

The State School Bill of Rights Act sends a message, added Sen. Lucio, that "the lives of residents in state schools are every bit as valuable as the general population's, and accordingly, crimes against them should be taken just as seriously."

Bill of Rights Section of Senate Bill 639 below.

The purpose of the state residential care facility resident bill of rights is:
(1) to ensure the freedoms and rights of persons with
intellectual or developmental disabilities living in state
residential care facilities;
(2) to promote choice and self-determination; and
(3) to protect the civil and constitutional rights of
residents in state residential care facilities consistent with
federal and state laws and in accordance with acceptable standards
of professional practice.
Sec.A592.075. STATE RESIDENTIAL CARE FACILITY RESIDENT BILL
OF RIGHTS. It is the policy of the state that each person residing
in a state residential care facility has the following rights:
(1) to make decisions that impact the person ís rights
and freedoms, or, if appropriate, to have a legal guardian or, if
the person is a minor, a parent make those decisions;
(2) to be free from abuse, neglect, and exploitation,
including:
(A) physical restraints, unless necessary to
protect the health or safety of the person or others and the use of
the restraint is not prohibited by other law;
(B) mechanical restraints, including a papoose
board or a straightjacket;
(C) medical restraint, including administration
of psychotropic medication, unless the medication is administered
in accordance with other law and there is a proven need for that
medication for the health and safety of the person or the health and
safety of others;
(D) isolation from others, unless necessary to
protect the health and safety of the person or others and the use of
the isolation is not prohibited by other law;
(E) corporal or physical punishment;
(F) sexual abuse; or
(G) emotional abuse;
(3) to seek immediate prosecution of a perpetrator of
abuse, neglect, or exploitation;
(4) to report incidents of abuse, neglect, or
exploitation in confidence using a private telephone or computer;
(5) to have the facility notify the person ís legal
guardian or, if the person is a minor, the person ís parent of an
allegation of abuse, neglect, or exploitation not more than 24
hours after the allegation is made;
(6) to have the results of any investigation regarding
an allegation of abuse, neglect, or exploitation be explained in a
clear and timely fashion by a department representative on
completion of the investigation;
(7) to report complaints about the state residential
care facility, other than complaints about abuse, neglect, or
exploitation, and have timely and appropriate resolution to those
complaints;
(8) to live in the least restrictive setting
appropriate to the person ís individual needs and abilities and the
most integrated setting possible, including:
(A) having the opportunity to make an informed
choice to move into a community with the necessary services and
supports;
(B) having access to community services while
waiting for a determination of eligibility for those services;
(C) choosing to participate in, and
participating in, community activities;
(D) having regular reviews of placement, if the
person was placed in a state residential care facility by the
justice system;
(E) having access to well-developed, specialized
community programs for offenders with disabilities necessary to
successfully reintegrate into the community, if applicable; and
(F) requesting planning meetings to review
community placement determinations or specific community options;
(9) to engage in age-appropriate, healthy
interpersonal relationships with other persons based on mutual
consent;
(10) to receive high quality assistive technology
assessments, equipment, and training, and for staff to have the
relevant training, necessary to ensure the person ís successful
inclusion in major life activities, to the greatest extent
possible, including:
(A) communication;
(B) mobility;
(C) employment; and
(D) education;
(11) to a quality and productive life, including:
(A) the opportunity to pursue employment or
education of the person ís choice;
(B) freedom from unsafe living conditions at the
state residential care facility in which the person resides;
(C) opportunities to participate in an
organization that advocates with and on behalf of people with
disabilities;
(D) opportunities to interact with individuals
with shared interests who do not reside at the state residential
care facility, including mentors, friends, and family, and
individuals participating in clubs, classes, and social groups;
(E) access to services or meetings of a religious
organization of the person ís choosing, including weekly services or
meetings and services or meetings on the religious holy days of that
religion; and
(F) personal living space with privacy to the
greatest extent possible based on the person ís individual needs;
(12) to have access to appropriate health care,
including:
(A) a well-balanced diet;
(B) regular access to physical activity, with
supports as needed, in the least restrictive environment, with the
opportunity to go outdoors when preferred if possible;
(C) preventative and emergency medical care; and
(D) behavioral interventions;
(13) to reside in a community-based alternative with
supports and services if the person desires, if this is possible
considering the individual ís disability;
(14) to have the person ís legal guardian or, if the
person is a minor, the person ís parent notified of any significant
medical, behavioral, or social event that occurs in the person ís
life; and
(15) to be provided with a written copy of this Bill of
Rights in English and Spanish and to have the opportunity to review
this document with an advocate or individual of the person ís
choosing.

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