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July 13, 2010

Arc, others settle CT training school suit

Hartford nonprofit Arc of Connecticut is hailing a class-action lawsuit settlement with the state that calls for better efforts to place mentally retarded residents of the Southbury Training School into the community.

"We are relieved with the long-awaited, favorable outcome," Arc Executive Director Lynn C. Warner said in a statement Tuesday.

The settlement filed Monday in U.S. District Court says the more than 450 residents at the facility will be entitled to assessments and other information that will help them and their guardians make decisions about community placements, The Associated Press reports.

Senior U.S. District Judge Ellen Bree Burns will decide whether to approve the agreement. She ruled in 2008 that the state hasn't done enough to help the residents relocate into the community.

The settlement, among other things, requires the state Department of Developmental Services, which runs the facility, to hire an independent expert to oversee crafting of agency staff training as to how to educate training school residents and their families/guardians on their options for off-site living.

DDS also must continue to provide transition funding to resident who choose to leave the training school and live independently.

Warner called the action "a momentous occasion for the residents of Southbury Training School. With this agreement in place, the focus is now rightly on opportunities and solutions rather than roadblocks and litigation."

Arc promotes programs and training for people with mental or behavior disabilities to live and work in their home communities.

A DDS spokeswoman said the agency will release a statement about the agreement later Tuesday.

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