Case No. CA 13-442


The United States and City of Providence (parties) jointly move the Court to dismiss this case with prejudice as to the City of Providence and request a hearing before the Court. The City of Providence (City) has substantially complied with the terms of the Interim Settlement Agreement (ISA or Agreement), as described below, entered as an order of the Court on July 11, 2013. Order, ECF 5; Interim Settlement Agreement, ECF 4-3.

The City has implemented reforms that have transformed Mt. Pleasant High School (Mt. Pleasant) for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Prior to the Agreement, students with IDD at Mt. Pleasant spent school days bagging, labeling, and collating jewelry and similar tasks in an in-school sheltered workshop, apart from their classmates without disabilities. Upon exiting school, most of these students entered a sub-minimum wage sheltered workshop near the school, despite their ability and willingness to work in integrated settings. This Agreement was the first in the nation to address the rights of individuals with disabilities to receive integrated employment services instead of segregated workshop services. In response to the Agreement, the City changed the nature and quality of school’s services for students with IDD. The students are now integrated with their classmates and receive services to prepare them for integrated work in careers that match their interests and abilities, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Pursuant to the Agreement, the City will ensure that these changes are lasting.

The independent court monitor has consistently documented the City’s compliance with the provisions of the ISA throughout the six years since the ISA went into effect, culminating in his Final Report concluding that the City is in substantial compliance with all provisions. Final Report of the Court Monitor (hereinafter “Final Report”), ECF 44. The expected termination date of the Agreement was July 2020. ISA, ECF 4-3, § XIX(2). But the City’s rapid implementation of the requirements of the Agreement and consistent adherence to the provisions has resulted in substantial compliance a year early. This is a victory for all involved. The United States and the City of Providence concur with the court monitor’s findings, and therefore respectfully request dismissal of this case as to the City.1

    1. Court-Ordered Settlement Agreement

      On June 7, 2013, the United States sent a Letter of Findings to the City of Providence detailing the City’s failure to provide students with IDD at Mt. Pleasant with services, programs, and activities in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs, in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134; 28 C.F.R. pt. 35. Specifically, the Letter of Findings concluded that the City developed and maintained a direct pipeline of students from Mt. Pleasant to an adult sheltered workshop and facility-based day program, and focused its efforts on preparing students for sheltered work to the exclusion of integrated employment. The City thereby placed the students at serious risk of segregation in violation of the ADA. That same day, the United States sent a Letter of Findings to the State of Rhode Island (State) detailing the State’s failure to provide students with IDD at Mt. Pleasant and adults with IDD at a sheltered workshop called Training Through Placement with services, programs, and activities in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs, and thereby placed students with IDD at serious risk of segregation and unnecessarily segregated adults with IDD, both violations of the ADA.

      The United States, State, and City agreed that the ADA requires that the State and City deliver public services in the most integrated setting appropriate to students with IDD served by Mt. Pleasant and to adults with IDD served by Training Through Placement. Therefore, the parties reached an Interim Settlement Agreement to resolve the United States’ findings. For the purposes of this Motion, discussion of the ISA will be limited to those provisions relevant to the City and students with IDD at Mt. Pleasant.

      The ISA specified a target date of July 1, 2020 for the City to fully implement all requirements, and allows early termination if the City substantially complies with all provisions. ISA, ECF 4-3, §§ XIX(3)–(4). Specifically, the Court retains jurisdiction until the City implements all ISA provisions and demonstrates sustained compliance of those provisions for one year.

    2. Independent Court Monitor

      The ISA provides for independent oversight and compliance reporting by a court monitor. ISA, ECF 4-3, § XVII. Charles Moseley, Ed.D., serves in this role. Dr. Moseley and experts retained by Dr. Moseley conducted regular in-depth reviews of Mt. Pleasant and the relevant student population. Since 2013, he periodically issued compliance reports that detail the City’s progress on complying with the Agreement. SeeReport of the Ct. Monitor July 1, 2014 – Dec. 31, 2014, ECF 7; Independent Consultant Report, ECF 8; Report of the Ct. Monitor Jan. 2015 – Sept. 2015; Report of the Ct. Monitor Oct. 2015 – March 2017, ECF 17; Ct. Monitor Review in response to June 23, 2017 Order, ECF 22; Second Ct. Monitor Review in response to June 23, 2017 Order, ECF 24; Third Ct. Monitor Review in response to June 23, 2017 Order, ECF 30; Fourth Ct. Monitor Review in response to June 23, 2017 Order, Case No. 1:14-cv-00175, ECF 85; Final Report, ECF 44.

    3. In his Final Report, EFC 44, Dr. Moseley reviewed all forty-five major provisions of the agreement, indicating where the City met or exceeded the standards set forth in the Agreement for at least the prior year, often for many years, and provided a draft of his Final Report to the parties. Dr. Moseley, the Department, and the City discussed two areas of concern and received additional documentation from the City of efforts in those two areas. Based on the parties’ discussion and the additional documentation from the City, Dr. Moseley concluded that the City had achieved substantial compliance with all provisions in the Agreement. As a result, he found that early termination is appropriate, as documented in his Final Report. ECF 44.

  3. The principal requirement of the Agreement is to achieve the goal of Title II’s integration requirement: to ensure that individuals with disabilities can receive public services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs. Here, the relevant services are transition services and supported employment services provided by the City to students with IDD. Transition services include identifying the individual employment skills and goals of youth with IDD 14-21 years of age,2 providing planning and services to further those goals as students transition to adulthood and post-secondary life. ISA, ECF 4-3, § VIII. Integral to the ISA’s transition planning requirements is the City’s adoption of an Employment First Policy, which reflects the expectation that all students will work in integrated settings. ISA, ECF 4-3, § VIII(1). Supported employment services are defined in the ISA as services necessary to place, maintain, and provide ongoing support to an individual with IDD in an integrated employment setting. ISA, ECF 4-3, § II(A)(12). To achieve the ADA’s goal, the Agreement requires the City to ensure that Mt. Pleasant youth with IDD can prepare for and participate in integrated employment as an alternative to segregated workshops.

    The Agreement requires the City to take actions that fall into four main categories: (A) provide students career development and transition planning; (B) provide students with Trial Work Experiences; (C) conduct training, outreach, and education about integrated employment for school staff, students, and families; and (D) coordinate with Rhode Island state agencies that provide integrated employment services.

    1. Career Development and Transition Planning

      The City quickly instituted sweeping changes to its transition services to provide students with IDD with career development plans, person-centered planning, and vocational assessments as required by the Agreement. See ISA, ECF 4-3 at §§ II(15), IV(2), (3); VII; VIII. These efforts further transition planning by preparing students to be able to secure competitive, integrated employment. These practices represent a departure from the City’s practices prior to the Agreement. The City now routinely identifies individual students’ vocational skills and interests using established methodologies. Each student’s skills and interests, as identified through vocational assessments, are now incorporated into an individualized, written career development plan. The plans align the students’ educational goals with their chosen career goals, based on the presumption that all students are capable and appropriate for the integrated employment of their choice.

      Since signing the Agreement, the City has consistently met, for years, the requirement that student career development plans be based upon integrated employment goals consistent with the student’s and family’s wishes; that the plans be updated yearly to reflect a student’s developing skills and preferences identified through vocational assessments; and that the plans include evidence that students and parents have received, for example, information on Social Security work incentive programs (benefits planning). See Final Report, ECF 44 at 8–11, 14–18, 29.

      Moreover, the City’s efforts extend not only to current students, but to students who left school prior to the signing of the ISA, as far back as 2010. The City engaged in significant outreach efforts to locate these former students, and provide them supported employment services, vocational assessments, and other transition services to help them access integrated employment. See Report of the Ct. Monitor July 1, 2014 – Dec. 31, 2014, ECF 7 at 3. The City provided the court monitor and United States with regular reporting over time of the transition services the City provided to nearly 50 former students who had already finished school. As noted by the court monitor, this “look-back” strategy to correct past discrimination showcased the City’s commitment to the objectives of the ISA. Id.

      In conclusion, the City’s consistent provision of effective services to assist students to prepare for integrated employment demonstrates the City’s substantial compliance with provisions of the ISA requiring career development and transition planning.

    2. Trial Work Experiences
    3. The ISA requires the City to provide students with real-life integrated employment experiences called Trial Work Experiences (TWEs). ISA, ECF 4-3 at §§ II(A)(14), VIII(6). These real-life experiences in integrated employment can be life-changing for students and their families. On the job, students demonstrate employment capabilities that may not be obvious in testing and the classroom. The City consistently provides student with assistance from school staff and a job coach to apply for, travel to, and work in integrated employment. Under the ISA, students should receive at least two TWEs of at least 60 days in duration apiece.

      The court monitor interviewed students on-site at TWEs, as well as their job coaches, parents, and employers. Those site visits revealed high quality work experiences that matched students’ documented interests and career goals. As noted by the court monitor’s independent expert, this change was implemented early in the ISA. In the fall of 2015, the expert performed a random review of 19 students, and found that each student received a strong career planning process, a wide variety of integrated TWEs, and an individualized match regarding what job trial would best suit each student. Independent Consultant Report, ECF 8 at 15. Over the course of the Agreement, the court monitor repeatedly observed, over time, that students’ TWEs helped them get other integrated jobs, decide on additional training to pursue their career goals, and prepare for an integrated career of their choice.

      Despite the high quality of the TWEs, the court monitor initially had concerns because, contrary to the Agreement, less than 100% of students received two TWEs of at least 60 days prior to graduation. See Final Report, ECF 44 at 40–43. The City provided additional information in response to the concerns.

      The TWE data and additional information provided by the City revealed that, from 2016-2019, the vast majority of students completed two 60-day TWEs prior to finishing school. The City provided information showing that the minority of students who did not complete both 60-day TWEs were impacted by irregular student attendance, parental decisions, and transportation barriers. See Final Report, ECF 44 at 43. The City’s narrative reporting described the City’s efforts to overcome barriers for students who had not had two TWEs, including thoughtful and creative strategies for addressing a parent’s questions about work and ensuring that a student who used a wheelchair could access a wheelchair accessible bathroom at work. The court monitor and United States requested that the City make additional efforts to ensure students with mobility disabilities are able to access transportation to TWEs that meets their needs. Final Report, ECF 44 at 43. The City agreed to address this by contracting with a new transportation provider.

      Thus, the City consistently provides high quality, individualized, integrated TWEs and has done so for years. In the face of barriers to some students participating in TWEs, the City repeatedly went the extra mile to ensure students’ individualized needs were met. As a result, the vast majority of students successfully completed two 60-day TWEs in integrated jobs. The City is therefore in substantial compliance with the ISA’s TWE requirements and has maintained substantial compliance for at least one year.

    4. Training, Outreach, and Education
    5. The ISA has a number of required training, outreach, and education requirements to change the prior discriminatory practices at Mt. Pleasant. See ISA, ECF 4-3 at §§ IX, X. Beginning in August 2013 and continuing to the present, the City instituted regular training for teachers on how to assess and assist students to prepare for integrated employment as required by the ISA. Final Report, ECF 44 at 10. The professionals working with students have consistently demonstrated their ability to implement the requirements and goals of the ISA, breathing life into the City’s Employment First policy. As documented by the court monitor, the City requires teachers and job coaches to participate in frequent relevant trainings and demonstrate competencies in diverse areas, from resume writing to helping students self-advocate. Final Report, ECF 44 at 51-54. Parents are invited to four information sessions each year about transition services to prepare their student for adulthood and work, and information is available in the parent’s spoken language. Final Report, ECF 44 at 34. The City also offers annual Parent to Parent meetings, where families can learn from each other and from staff. Id. at 55. Thus, the City is in substantial compliance with the ISA’s training, outreach, and education requirements and has maintained substantial compliance for at least one year.

    6. Interagency Coordination
    7. The City now regularly collaborates and communicates with the three Rhode Island state agencies responsible for providing integrated employment services to youth and adults as required by the ISA. ISA, ECF 4-3 at §§ VII(2), (3).  For example, a master’s level rehabilitation counselor from the State Office of Rehabilitation Services now provides regular on-site consultation and service referrals to students at Mt. Pleasant. Final Report, ECF 44 at 10. The City’s Special Education Director meets with the State monthly to review target population members’ progress post-graduation. Id. Prior to the Agreement, students rarely received the information and assistance they needed to transition from school to integrated employment. Pursuant to the Agreement, the City and state agencies have improved interagency processes so students and their families can access integrated employment services prior to exit from school. An independent review of a representative sample of 16 students determined that the City has instituted consistent practices for students to transition to adult services, with employment planning that begins the student’s first year at Mt. Pleasant. Final Report, ECF 44 at 35-36. This seamless transition from school-based services to adult services is critical to enable target population members to access and maintain the services they need to work in integrated settings.

      However, the court monitor noted that state agencies do not consistently attend meetings for students prior to age nineteen. See Final Report, ECF 44 at 36–38. The Agreement requires, at §VIII, that students and parents have the opportunity to meet with state agency representatives by age 16 as part of the process to enroll the student in adult integrated employment services. The City’s initial parent notification letter was not sufficiently clear to inform parents of the procedure for triggering state agency involvement in their children’s meetings. The court monitor requested that the City amend its letter and the City made the change to the court monitor’s satisfaction. Final Report, ECF 44 at 38.

      On the whole, the court monitor’s review revealed that the City is engaging in interagency collaboration with the state agencies to ensure students with IDD can transition to adult services and integrated employment. The City is in substantial compliance with the interagency collaboration requirements of the ISA and has maintained substantial compliance for one year or otherwise demonstrated it will maintain compliance.  

  5. The City’s commitment to fulfilling the requirements of the ADA for students with IDD is exemplified by the swift progress and years of sustained reform during the pendency of the ISA. The policy, operational, and attitudinal changes made in response to the ISA are myriad and will be difficult to dismantle. From the beginning of the ISA, the City and school leadership committed to rapidly addressing this discrimination and preventing it from recurring, and have continually demonstrated that commitment since signing the ISA in 2013. Moreover, the success of the ISA, including considerable outreach and education to students, families, and the community, has spread awareness and the expectation that students with IDD are capable of working in integrated settings with services.

    Additionally, the State’s obligations under a state-wide Consent Decree will continue to benefit the students at Mt. Pleasant.3 The Consent Decree requires the State to continue providing integrated employment services to youth, including Mt. Pleasant youth, and is set to terminate in 2024. Thus, students at Mt. Pleasant will continue to benefit from the State’s actions under the Consent Decree even after this ISA matter is dismissed as to the City.

  7. The City of Providence has made significant changes to Mt. Pleasant High School. As discussed above and in the court monitor’s Final Report, ECF 44, there is sufficient evidence that, over the past six years, the positive outcomes required by the Agreement (and the ADA) have been achieved for students with IDD. Further, these reforms are now embedded in policies, practices, and approaches at Mt. Pleasant. In light of the substantial compliance by the City, the parties respectfully urge the Court to dismiss this case with prejudice as to the City, and request a hearing before the Court.

Dated: September 5, 2019

Respectfully submitted,

For the United States of America:

Rebecca B. Bond, Chief
Anne S. Raish, Principal Deputy Chief
Jennifer K. McDannell, Deputy Chief

__/s/ Victoria Thomas ______
Victoria Thomas
Nicole Kovite Zeitler
Trial Attorneys
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
150 M St, NE, Suite 9-111
Washington, D.C.  20530


For Providence Public School District:

__/s/ Mary Ann Carroll_______
Mary Ann Carroll
Henneous, Carroll, Lombardo, LLC
1240 Pawtucket Ave., Suite308                    
East Providence, RI 02916

Aaron L. Weisman
U.S. Attorney
District of Rhode Island

_/s/ Amy R. Romero_________
Amy R. Romero
Assistant U.S. Attorney
District of Rhode Island
50 Kennedy Plaza, 8th Floor
Providence, Rhode Island 02903

1 The State of Rhode Island (State) is also a party to the Interim Settlement Agreement. The State has continuing obligations under the Agreement, should the Court dismiss the case as to the City. The court monitor is in the process of reviewing the State’s progress under the Interim Settlement Agreement, which will be addressed in a separate court monitor report between now and the proposed termination date of July 2020. 
2 Students with IDD generally remain in high school until age twenty-two and frequently enroll in adult services during their last two years in high school.

3 After entering the Interim Settlement Agreement in 2013, the United States opened a similar state-wide investigation in Rhode Island. The United States found a state-wide Title II violation.  In 2014, the United States entered a ten-year Consent Decree with the State of Rhode Island. The Consent Decree requires that the State implement the relief similar to that required by the Interim Settlement Agreement state-wide. Under the Consent Decree, the State must provide services similar to those discussed in this motion to youth with IDD in all Rhode Island public high schools, including Mt. Pleasant. See United States v. Rhode Island, Case No. 1:14-cv-00175 (D.R.I. April 9, 2014).