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June 12, 2013 |
A vocational school in Providence, Rhode Island is under scrutiny for singling out disabled students for labor in what pretty much sounds like a sweatshop. A Department of Justice investigation found that the Harold H. Birch Vocational School violated the Americans with Disabilities Act for years as it shoveled -- and segregated -- students with special needs into “sheltered workshops.” Things didn’t get better once they graduated. Rather, they school was a pipeline to push disabled students into a similarly exploitative program, Target 12 (WRPI) reports.
The Justice Department investigated the school and sent a letter detailing their findings this week, including that “Birch obtains contracts with private businesses to perform work, such as bagging, labeling, collating, and assembling jewelry,” and "One former student stated that she was required to spend a much greater portion of her school day in the workshop, including full days, when the workshop had important production deadlines."
Students received "subminimum or no wages" -- between 50 cents and $2 an hour for their labor (which even included weekend work) -- the report said. They DOJ's Civil Rights Division says students with disabilities performing tasks similar to peers who received “subminimum” wages received nothing at all, even though they “demonstrated very few differences in ability from the students who were paid subminimum wages.” MORE