NEW: Salvatore Wants Review of Disabled Abuses at Birch Vocational

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


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Councilman David A. Salvatore (Ward 14) is calling for a review of the circumstances that allowed disabled students at the Birch Vocational School to participate in programs that violated their civil rights. Birch Vocational is housed inside Mount Pleasant High School.

“The recent findings by the United States Department of Justice are deeply disturbing,” said Salvatore. “Some of our most vulnerable students have suffered from the negative impacts of sheltered workshops that kept them segregated, and paid them substandard wages. The City must ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.”

Specifically, the Councilman said he would like an internal City review to examine issues regarding administrative oversight, any formal or informal agreement between Birch Vocational and Training Through Placement, where many of the school’s graduates were referred, and why Birch continued to operate a sheltered workshop, a practice that the USDOJ cited as one that may limit disabled individuals’ abilities and opportunities to function in community-based, integrated employment as adults.

“By all accounts, the work programs appear to have been seriously outdated, and not in keeping with what is considered standard practice for students with developmental disabilities,” Salvatore stated. “The City, and the community need to understand how this was possible, and what steps are being taken to create the best educational and life opportunities for all students in Providence.”

The councilman will be requesting that the review be completed within 60 days and include measurable goals to achieve necessary reforms. He intends to introduce a resolution in July to formally request the review. 


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