What's New

Report Offers First Statewide Look at Seclusion and Restraint in Wisconsin’s Public Schools

Madison, WI – A new report issued today by Disability Rights Wisconsin, Wisconsin Family Ties, and WI FACETS, offers the first statewide look at seclusion and restraint data in Wisconsin’s public schools.  The report, called Seclusion & Restraint in Wisconsin Public School Districts: 2012-2013 School Year Data, is based on open records requests to special education directors statewide, collecting the data they were required to report to their school boards last fall in the wake of the 2012 passage of Wisconsin Act 125, which established crucial regulations on public-school use of seclusion and restraint.  The results provide a baseline of information about current statewide use of seclusion and restraint of students and, more specifically, students with disabilities, who according to the report accounted for a disproportionate 74% of seclusion and restraint incidents in 2012-13.

Click here to view the report.

The three organizations have for years helped amplify the voices of families whose students had suffered emotional and physical injury due to seclusion and restraint, highlighting the need for change that led to the passage of Act 125. The law limits the use of seclusion and restraint to situations in which there is an immediate risk to physical safety, and the intervention is the least restrictive one possible.   The first year of data demonstrates, however, that interpretation and implementation is uneven across school districts.

Click here to read the rest of Report Offers First Statewide Look at Seclusion and Restraint in Wisconsin’s Public Schools »

Disability Rights Wisconsin Listening Session – Kenosha – Friday, December 5, 2014

The Board of Directors of Disability Rights Wisconsin will conduct a Listening Session on Friday, December 5, 2014 in Kenosha from 4:30 to 6:30 at the Gateway Technical College.

Come and share your ideas for the future of disability advocacy and the issues that need to be addressed in the areas of special education, developmental disability, mental health and physical disability services and disability rights.

Click here for more information about the Listening Session.

New Fact Sheet to Help Understand Important Changes Coming to Wisconsin

Disability Rights Wisconsin and the statewide Survival Coalition encourage you to help educate people with disabilities and their families about changes to home and community based services that are occurring due to a new federal rule. DRW believes the necessary shift to more community-based supports (less isolating settings) and funding has the potential to be a very positive change for Wisconsinites with disabilities that help everyone to participate more in our communities and have a higher quality of life. The Survival Coalition developed an FAQ to help better inform the public, including people with disabilities and their families, about these changes. Please consider sending this FAQ to your organization’s email list, posting on social media or sharing with others in your network. Click here for the FAQ.

Announcing two new Violence Against Women with Disabilities and Deaf Women Project Resources available through Disability Rights Wisconsin

Conversations about Interpersonal Safety:  Helping individuals create more safety for themselves and talk about events that concern them                                     June 2014

Developed through the Violence Against Women with Disabilities and Deaf Women Project of Wisconsin and authored by Mark Sweet, Trainer and Consultant at Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW), this resource is designed for advocates, friends, family members and others to guide conversation and invite thinking about social situations and issues of personal safety involving people who have difficulty with abstract language, learning and social interactions — many individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.  In response to the Project’s 2011 publication, Creating Safety by Asking What Makes People Vulnerable?, requests poured in asking for specific language and sample questions that one could use to talk about issues of safety and harm directly with people with intellectual disabilities.  This resource responds to those requests and provides “conversation starters,” questions covering a myriad of themes designed to stimulate thought about what conversations might be helpful or of interest to people you know and support.  Click here to read the rest of Announcing two new Violence Against Women with Disabilities and Deaf Women Project Resources available through Disability Rights Wisconsin »

Proposed Changes to Family Care and the Department of Health Services 5-year Transition Plan: Questions and Answers

Disability Rights Wisconsin supports changes to services for people with disabilities in Wisconsin that will provide more community-based options for people to live a more integrated life. The Department of Health Services is seeking public comment on these changes through Sept. 2. Use this helpful FAQ to answer some common questions about the change: If you would like to learn more and to use a tool to help you submit comments, go to www.takeastandontheplan.org Find more information about the DHS proposed changes to Family Care and other services, as well as how to comment directly to DHS here: http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/ltcare/StateFedReqs/waiver.htm.

Volunteer Opportunity – Medicare Part D Disability Drug Benefit Helpline.

Looking for a fulfilling way to donate your time? The Milwaukee office of Disability Rights Wisconsin needs compassionate, dedicated individuals who enjoy helping others to volunteer for our Medicare Part D Disability Drug Benefit Helpline.

We will train you to help our callers navigate Medicare Part D and choose a plan that is best for them. Basic computer, internet and telephone skills helpful; a willingness to make a difference in the lives of others a MUST.

Fill out the application: Med D volunteer Application and submit to volunteer@drwi.org for more information. Thank you!

Managing Attorney Kit Kerschensteiner quoted in prison article by Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Excerpt from article in a series by Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism which appeared in WI State Journal and on WI Public Radio:

Kit Kerschensteiner, managing attorney with Disability Rights Wisconsin, a nonprofit advocacy group, said the allegations of abuse at Waupun are “occurring with such frequency” that they could merit an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department under the Civil Rights for Institutionalized Persons Act, which was previously invoked to bring about major changes in mental health care and discipline at the state women’s prison at Taycheedah. “We will continue to help individual inmates with their complaints, but we have a peashooter, and they have a cannon,” she said.

With complaints brought by inmates, a key issue is credibility. Kerschensteiner suggested that abuse occurs in part because guards know they have the upper hand in any disagreement. “Regardless of what actually happened, it always boils down to, who is going to be believed: a reputable guard or a convicted felon?” she said. “Corroboration is hard.”

For the full article: http://urbanmilwaukee.com/2014/07/23/cruel-and-unusual-waupun-prison-guards-accused-of-abusing-dozens-of-inmates/

A War Worth Fighting – Blog Post about Voucher Schools

DRW has long been concerned about voucher schools discriminating against students with disabilities and the impact that the increased concentration of students with special education needs has on the diminishing resources of the public schools. Click the following link to read a blog by one of the attorneys who is working on the voucher case with us: A War Worth Fighting.

Disability Rights Wisconsin 2013 Annual Report

Expect More, Disability Rights Wisconsin Report to the Community 2013 annual report cover pageDisability Rights Wisconsin has issued its 2013 Report to the Community: “Expect More.” The 2013 annual report highlights advances made in fair employment practices, youth transition, mental health services, and end of life protection for people with disabilities. Read the full report here and share in DRW’s good work.

DRW Pleased With Outcome of DHS Review

Disability Rights Wisconsin is pleased that the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Chief Legal Counsel has issued a favorable finding – concluding the review into DRW’s release of its expert’s report on six deaths that occurred at the Milwaukee Mental Health Complex in 2012.

“DRW appreciates the thorough nature of the Chief Counsel’s review and reiterates its commitment to advocate for the highest quality of life for all persons with disabilities, particularly those who are most vulnerable,” commented Executive Director Daniel Idzikowski.

DHS’ letter to Governor Walker dated June 13 concluded that DRW did not commit a violation of its duty as the state’s designated Protection and Advocacy Agency.

For more about this development, follow this link: DRW Pleased with Outcome of DHS Review.