DENVER, Oct. 21, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Disability Law Colorado celebrates 20 years on the Western Slope with a community celebration on Thursday, October 22 in Grand Junction.
Founded in 1976, Disability Law Colorado has always served people throughout the state. "In the early years, we always hoped to have an office on the Western Slope, but it wasn't until the mid-90s that we actually had the resources to do it," according to Executive Director Mary Anne Harvey. On May 1, 1995, the Grand Junction office opened for business.
The past two decades have seen major changes for people with disabilities on the Western Slope. One of the biggest changes has been the deinstitutionalization of the Grand Junction Regional Center (GJRC) as people with developmental disabilities, and often with severe physical disabilities as well, were finally given a chance to make homes in the community. A collaborative planning effort among the staffs of Disability Law Colorado, GJRC, and Thrive, (the local community service agency), including residents and their families, resulted in appropriate community placements.
Another key change has been a growing acceptance of the right of children with disabilities to learn alongside their non-disabled peers in neighborhood schools. The Grand Junction office has gained a reputation for supporting parents in advocating for their children to receive the services they need to succeed, and for being a tough negotiator with local schools in upholding the special education law.
Disability Law Colorado is also marking a major change in leadership as Randy Chapman steps down as Director of Legal Services after 38 years with the organization. Chapman's work in special education law is legendary. In 1980, he led a successful lawsuit against the Colorado Department of Education because children living in the institution for people with developmental disabilities in Wheat Ridge were not receiving an education, despite the passage of federal law in 1975 that entitled children with disabilities to a "free, appropriate public education." For the first time, children with severe disabilities attended public school in Colorado. The impact of Chapman's work on the case laid the foundation of his advocacy in special education throughout his career. He is the author of The Everyday Guide to Special Education Law, initially published in 2005, which has received national acclaim.
Chapman is succeeded as Director of Legal Services by Alison Daniels, who joined Disability Law Colorado in 2007 to manage the Protection and Advocacy for Individual Rights Program (PAIR), which provides assistance in the areas of housing, employment, public accommodations and government services.
Daniels has established a reputation in the Special Education Program. She is passionate about protecting children with disabilities from abusive disciplinary practices and providing them with the opportunity to be educated to their fullest potential so that they can grow up to be independent and productive adults.
Disability Law Colorado's Nursing Home Project has also benefited from Daniels' advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities who want to leave nursing homes for an independent life in the community. She has played a key role in Disability Law Colorado's approach to implementing the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court Olmstead decision requiring services for people with disabilities to be provided in the most integrated setting possible.
Prior to joining Disability Law Colorado, Daniels worked in private practice on discrimination and housing issues as well as in the Public Defender's Office in Palm Beach County, Florida. She received her law degree from Columbia University School of Law in 1997 and is licensed to practice law in Colorado, Florida and New York.
The Board of Directors and staff of Disability Law Colorado cordially invite the community to join in the celebration of the Grand Junction 20th anniversary by stopping by the Springhill Suites on 236 Main Street between 4:30 and 7:00 on Thursday, October 22. For more information or to RSVP, call 970-241-6371 or email [email protected].
SOURCE Disability Law Colorado