AJE stands with the disability community in DC in calling for the Mayor to extend the Department on Disability Services’ (DDS) Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) Health Initiative contract with Georgetown University’s Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (Georgetown) for at least another year so that any proposed transition in services can be properly reviewed and action taken in consultation with all stakeholders.
A focus of the longstanding Evans litigation was the failure of the District to ensure Evans class members were provided with adequate health care, and related compliance criteria were among the last the Court found to be satisfied by the District at the end of that case in January 2017. The services provided by Georgetown through the Health Initiative were instrumental in achieving that goal, and just because the Evans litigation has ended, it does not mean that the District should stop doing the very things that allowed the District to achieve compliance and end court oversight. In fact, it means the exact opposite, and the District should CONTINUE to do those things that have worked, even without the court’s oversight.
We in the Special Education/Disability Rights community have seen this before, investments made in order to allow the District to end court oversight were stopped shortly after that court oversight ended in the Blackman/Jones litigation and in the Petities litigation. This put the improvements in the lives of DC residents made under those cases at risk.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recognized this pattern in her dissent in Shelby County v. Holder when she said that “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”
What Georgetown is doing, and has done, is working for DC residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and DC should not end that relationship because it has worked. We at AJE encourage the Mayor to do better by the community, and reconsider the termination of the Georgetown University’s Center for Child and Human Services contract.