P&A access authority upheld in Disability Rights Ohio lawsuit against The Buckeye Ranch
March 26, 2019 / access authority
COLUMBUS, OHIO – Today, Disability Rights Ohio celebrates the decision by Chief Judge Edmund A. Sargus Jr. in the United States District Court, Southern District of Ohio, to uphold the broad access authority that is foundational to its Protection & Advocacy (P&A) work. DRO will now be able to interview children at The Buckeye Ranch and review video and records to further investigate allegations of abuse and neglect, and ensure the rights of these children are protected.
Beginning in late July 2018, DRO tried to investigate reports of unapproved restraints at The Buckeye Ranch, a 106-bed child residential treatment facility in Franklin County. After reviewing limited video footage, DRO requested additional video footage and informed The Buckeye Ranch of its intent to visit the facility and interview child residents about these unapproved restraints. The Buckeye Ranch denied these requests, in violation of federal law, which gives P&As like DRO access to facilities, residents and records to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect. On August 16, 2018, DRO filed a lawsuit to ask the court to enforce these laws. Judge Sargus has now ruled in DRO's favor on all counts, requiring that The Buckeye Ranch provide all additional records and that it allow DRO to confidentially interview child residents without delay.
"When Congress created the P&A system, they also gave us broad access authority to monitor facilities where people with disabilities live and investigate incidents of abuse and neglect. It's a responsibility we take very seriously," says DRO Executive Director Michael Kirkman. "With this decision, we are ready to get back to the critical work of protecting some of Ohio's most vulnerable residents and holding those who would abuse them accountable for their actions."
Disability Rights Ohio is the federally and state designated Protection and Advocacy System and Client Assistance Program for the state of Ohio. The mission of Disability Rights Ohio is to advocate for the human, civil and legal rights of people with disabilities in Ohio. Disability Rights Ohio provides legal advocacy and rights protection to a wide range of people with disabilities. Find more information at disabilityrightsohio.org.