Never Again!

The JT’s “A New Beginning” (June 23), which described the Rosewood-Stevenson University plan, is of great interest to our constituency of children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

The sale of the Rosewood Center property reopens questions about the dark history of segregation and fairness to people with I/DD. Designed with good intentions, Rosewood deteriorated into a literal house of horrors where thousands of children and adults were warehoused, as described by people who lived there. Disability Rights Maryland (after prior investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice) was investigating maltreatment and violations of federal regulations for health and safety at the time the center closed.

The $1 sale of the property to Stevenson University requires $20 million in toxic cleanup to make the grounds safe for university students; people with I/DD under the care of the state, including those with complex and fragile medical conditions, resided for decades on this toxic dump.

Community Services Trust Fund legislation sponsored by then-state Sen. John Cade and Del. James Hubbard aimed in part to help rectify the historic segregation and treatment of people with I/DD and provide hope for children and adults on the state’s Developmental Disabilities Community Services waiting list. The legislation provides that the annual interest of the net earnings derived from the sale or long-term lease of the property or equipment of a state residential center go to provide services to people with I/DD on the waiting list with the most elderly caregivers.

The $1 sale means nothing will go to benefit individuals on the state’s 8,000-person waiting list. We call upon the State of Maryland and Stevenson University to make things right through the following:

>> Scholarships to students with I/DD to attend an inclusive education at Stevenson College.

>> Adoption of college curriculum on the history and rights of persons with I/DD.

>> Adoption of curriculum for education students that includes inclusive education and opportunities for children and adults with I/DD.

>> A permanent collection in Stevenson’s library to memorialize the lives, experiences and history of the people with I/DD who lived and died at Rosewood Institution and to illustrate the gains society has made in ending such institutionalization.

These are relatively low-cost items that will help future generations of students, teachers and upcoming leaders to be more equipped to support people with I/DD in their right to inclusive settings. “Never again” we say to revisiting the shameful dark history of institutional segregation of people with I/DD.

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