Court Approves Comprehensive Agreement Between U.S. and the Commonwealth of Virginia Regarding the Rights of Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
WASHINGTON – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has approved a comprehensive settlement agreement between the United States and the Commonwealth of Virginia, resolving the department’s findings that Virginia’s system for serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The department had found that Virginia was violating the ADA requirement, as interpreted by the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C., to provide people with intellectual and developmental disabilities the opportunity to live and receive services in the community.
As the court noted in its order approving the settlement agreement, it “addresses pressing needs” and “dramatically changes the way Virginia provides services to” individuals with developmental disabilities. The settlement agreement will provide relief to more than 5,000 people by expanding community services and supports, including Medicaid-funded home and community-based waivers, crisis services, housing and employment supports and by establishing a comprehensive quality management system. The court further found that the agreement “is completely consonant with the principles set forth in the ADA, as interpreted . . . in Olmstead.”
The agreement is court-enforceable, and an independent reviewer with decades of experience will monitor the commonwealth’s compliance with the agreement, meet with the parties and stakeholders, and issue regular reports.
The Justice Department and Virginia submitted the agreement for the court’s approval on Jan. 26, 2012. On March 6, 2012, the court provisionally approved the agreement and solicited public comment on it. After considering hundreds of submittals from a wide range of stakeholders and conducting a day-long hearing on June 8, 2012, the court determined that the agreement was “fair, reasonable, and adequate” with limited modifications. The department and the commonwealth then submitted modifications, and on August 23, 2012, the court formally approved the agreement as modified and entered it as a court order.
“We are pleased that the court, after hearing from thousands of very engaged stakeholders and examining the extensive record, gave final approval to the settlement agreement,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. “We commend the commonwealth of Virginia, and particularly the leadership of Governor McDonnell and Secretary Hazel, on the commitment they are already demonstrating to fully implementing the agreement. We also appreciate the deep interest and involvement of stakeholders, including those who have long fought for these changes as well as those who raised concerns.”
“We are committed to ensuring that the agreement is implemented fairly on behalf of all Virginians with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.The Civil Rights Division enforces the ADA, which authorizes the Attorney General to investigate whether a state is serving individuals in the most integrated settings appropriate to their needs. Please visit www.ada.gov/olmstead to find the settlement agreement and fact sheet about the agreement, and to learn more about the division’s ADA Olmstead enforcement efforts, and www.justice.gov/crt to learn more about the other laws enforced by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.