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Case Name United States v. Rhode Island and City of Providence DR-RI-0004
Docket / Court 1:13-cv-00442 ( D.R.I. )
State/Territory Rhode Island
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Olmstead Cases
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On June 13, 2013, the Disability Rights Section of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (“United States”) filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island against the State of Rhode Island (“State”) and City of Providence, Rhode Island (“City� ... read more >
On June 13, 2013, the Disability Rights Section of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (“United States”) filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island against the State of Rhode Island (“State”) and City of Providence, Rhode Island (“City”) (including the Providence Public School Department) under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134, as interpreted by the Supreme Court in Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581, 597 (1999). The United States asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief. The United States alleged that the defendants unnecessarily segregated 90 individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) (predominantly suffering from autism and Down Syndrome) in sheltered workshops and adult day programs by failing to provide adequate programs that would support positions in integrated settings that paid at least the minimum wage.

Specifically, the United States alleged that these 90 individuals were sent to a workshop in an old elementary school and tasked with packaging TV remotes and medical supplies or sorting jewelry. These individuals were paid far below minimum wage, with an average per hour wage of $1.57. Though these individuals expressed a desire to work outside of the Training Thru Placement, Inc. (TTP) program, they were not given the opportunity to pursue outside employment. Some individuals in TTP had been working at TTP for up to 30 years.

The United States further alleged that the defendants put 85 students between the ages of 14 and 21 in Providence Public School Department at risk of the same unnecessary segregation in the same programs by, among other things, placing them in sheltered workshops as part of the secondary school curriculum, failing to opportunities to explore integrated job placement settings in violation of Rhode Island law, and awarding the students certificates of attendance rather than granting them high school diplomas. These students also sorted jewelry for low to no wages. The United States alleged that this program (the Birch program) was a pipeline to the TTP program.

The lawsuit developed from an investigation by the United States into the State’s practices that began in January 2013. By June 7, the United States released a report that the State and City violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134. (The same investigation also led to another lawsuit, United States v. Rhode Island.)

In this case, the parties entered into an eight-year interim settlement agreement and jointly moved to dismiss on the same day the case was filed, likely based on work that had already taken place during the United States’ investigation. Under the agreement:
  • The United States agreed that this agreement resolved all claims the United States had against the defendants regarding the specified populations.
  • The City agreed it would cease providing a sheltered workshop as part of its services for students with I/DD.
  • The State agreed it would neither fund nor place any more individuals with I/DD in specified adult sheltered workshops and segregated day programs.
  • The City agreed that each student would be a part of a person-centered planning process that includes information about transition plans to integrated placements beginning at age 14 as well as transition services that give students the opportunity to learn about integrated employment opportunities and placements.
  • The State agreed to provide supported integrated employment services, placements, and integrated day services to each individual in segregated workshop as well as a professional evaluation of the effect of employment upon the individual's public benefits funding.
  • The State agreed that all integrated placements made pursuant to the settlement would allow individuals to work as much as they were willing and able and provide them with at least minimum wage.
  • The State and City agreed to presume that all individuals are capable of working in integrated employment settings for the purposes of job placement, to conduct all assessments of ability to do particular employment at integrated work settings rather than sheltered workshops, and to provide employment services to students after their 18th birthday allowing them to choose to leave school for employment in the workforce.
  • The State agreed to allow for integrated non-work activities that would allow individuals with I/DD to be integrated into the community allowing them to choose their non-work activities and whom to do those activities.
  • The City and State agreed to ensure that all students are given all opportunities to earn appropriate educational credentials such as a high school diploma.
  • The State agreed to support networking between students and individuals with I/DD who had received job placements within the community.
  • The defendants agreed to contract with a technical assistant provider to provide assistance and support for integrated employment services.
  • The defendants agreed to ensure that transition, placement, and integrated supports have adequate funding that "follows the person" rather than staying with a particular institutional or job placement.
  • The defendants agreed to develop a quality improvement program that would involve regular on-site reviews for at least three years.
  • The defendants agreed to collect and report data on a monthly basis.
  • The defendants agreed to split the cost of a monitor to evaluate their implementation of the Agreement.
  • Each defendant agreed to appoint an Interim Settlement Agreement Coordinator to oversee compliance with the terms of the settlement agreement.

The settlement was structured as a conditional dismissal--the case was dismissed, contingent on compliance with the settlement. While efforts to comply proceeded, District Judge John J. McConnell, Jr. retained jurisdiction over the case.

On July 23, 2019, the court-appointed monitor resigned from the case. The parties agreed to find a new monitor by the end of September and to submit memoranda if they either found an acceptable candidate or came to an impasse. This window to replace the monitor was later extended to the end of November.

On August 20, 2019, the court-appointed monitor submitted his final report on compliance with the consent decree. The monitor determined that the City was in substantial compliance with the terms of the interim settlement agreement. There were two areas of concern, however: the notification procedure for scheduled planning meetings and the requirement of trial work experiences for the Birch students. Specifically, the City had not appropriately notified parents of planning meetings, preventing them from requesting a representative at those meetings. Also, while the majority of Birch students received two or more 60-day trial work experiences before exiting the Birch program, not all students had received those experiences. The City took steps to address both of these concerns, which led the monitor to conclude that the City was in substantial compliance despite these problem areas. On September 26, 2019, the court granted the United States’ motion to dismiss the City from the Interim Settlement Agreement. The DOJ press release can be found here.

On November 12, 2019, the court asked the remaining parties to submit memoranda of their views on the services and the role of the court-appointed monitor. According to a later order, the court hoped that agreeing on qualifications would help the parties agree on a replacement monitor. But the court’s hopes went unfulfilled. On November 21, 2019, the City submitted its memorandum and noted that the parties had been unable to come to an agreement on these issues. In response, the court appointed its own interim monitor on November 25. The case is ongoing.

Brian Kempfer - 06/22/2014
Virginia Weeks - 11/12/2017
Olivia Wheeling - 11/21/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Reasonable Accommodation
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Required disclosure
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Disability
disability, unspecified
Integrated setting
Mental impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Classification / placement
Deinstitutionalization/decarceration
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Education
Forced labor
Government Services (specify)
Individualized planning
Juveniles
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Reasonable Accommodations
Reasonable Modifications
Reassessment and care planning
Rehabilitation
School/University Facilities
School/University policies
Special education
Test or device
Testing
Medical/Mental Health
Intellectual/Developmental Disability
Mental Disability
Autism
Developmental disability without intellectual disability
Down syndrome
Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified
Learning disability
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Non-government non-profit
Causes of Action Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) City of Providence
State of Rhode Island
Plaintiff Description Disability Rights Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Conditional Dismissal
Order Duration 2013 - 2021
Filing Year 2013
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing DR-RI-0003 : United States v. Rhode Island (D.R.I.)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Docket(s)
1:13-cv-442 (D.R.I.)
DR-RI-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/25/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Exhibit A [Interim Settlement Agreement] [ECF# 4-3]
DR-RI-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/06/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF [ECF# 1]
DR-RI-0004-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/13/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
JOINT MOTION TO DISMISS WITHOUT PREJUDICE AND RETAIN JURISDICTION [ECF# 4]
DR-RI-0004-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/13/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report of the Court Monitor: Progress on the Interim Settlement Agreement [ECF# 7]
DR-RI-0004-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/16/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report of the Court Monitor: Progress on the Interim Settlement Agreement [ECF# 10]
DR-RI-0004-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/20/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report of the Court Monitor on Rhode Island Interim Settlement Agreement Compliance [ECF# 17]
DR-RI-0004-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/19/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order For Compliance With the Outstanding Interim Settlement Agreement Requirements [ECF# 20] (D.R.I.)
DR-RI-0004-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/23/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Court Monitor's Review of State Activities in Response to the Order of Compliance with Outstanding Interim Settlement Agreement Requirements Filed June 23, 2017 [ECF# 22]
DR-RI-0004-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/07/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Court Monitor's Second Review of State Activities in Response to the Order of Compliance with Outstanding Interim Settlement Agreement Requirements Filed June 23, 2017 [ECF# 24]
DR-RI-0004-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/29/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Court Monitor's Third Review of State Activities in Response to the Order of Compliance with Outstanding Interim Settlement Agreement Requirements Filed June 23, 2017 [ECF# 30]
DR-RI-0004-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/09/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Court Monitor's Update on Rhode Island's Response to Recommendations for Enhancements in Developmental Disabilities FY 2019 Budget and Personnel Services [ECF# 37]
DR-RI-0004-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/01/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Interim Progress Review by the Court Monitor: Assessment of the State’s Quarterly Report for the Period Ending September 30, 2018 [ECF# 43]
DR-RI-0004-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/20/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Court Monitor's Final Report on the City of Providence Public School District's Substantial Compliance with the Interim Settlement Agreement [ECF# 44]
DR-RI-0004-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/21/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 53] (D.R.I.)
DR-RI-0004-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/25/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges McConnell, John James Jr. (D.R.I.) show/hide docs
DR-RI-0004-0008 | DR-RI-0004-0014 | DR-RI-0004-9000
Sullivan, Patricia A. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
DR-RI-0004-9000
Monitors/Masters Moseley, Charles (Vermont) show/hide docs
DR-RI-0004-0004 | DR-RI-0004-0005 | DR-RI-0004-0006 | DR-RI-0004-0007 | DR-RI-0004-0009 | DR-RI-0004-0010 | DR-RI-0004-0011 | DR-RI-0004-0012 | DR-RI-0004-0013
Plaintiff's Lawyers Kline, Regina (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-RI-0004-0002 | DR-RI-0004-0003 | DR-RI-0004-9000
Perez, Thomas E. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-RI-0004-0001 | DR-RI-0004-0003
Romero, Amy Retsinas (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
DR-RI-0004-9000
Thomas, Victoria L (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-RI-0004-9000
Weinstock, Lindsey M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-RI-0004-9000
Zeitler, Nicole K. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-RI-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Carroll, Mary Ann F (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
DR-RI-0004-0002 | DR-RI-0004-9000
Conley, William J Jr. (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
DR-RI-0004-0002 | DR-RI-0004-9000
DeSisto, Marc (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
DR-RI-0004-9000
Hilton, Kathleen A. (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
DR-RI-0004-9000

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