State Independent Living Council Discussion Archive

NATSILC: Indiana SILC Response To Report Of Findings

Posted by: Lou Diehl
Date Mailed: Friday, October 3rd 2003 01:28 PM

Date: Wed, 1 Oct 2003 08:46:24 EDT


After nearly a year and a half, long past the promised 30 days, the Office
of General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Education finally allowed the
Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) to issue their report of
findings about the Indiana IL program

That report acknowledged nearly every allegation made against the Indiana
SILC and DSU by the Alliance for Compliance and others were, in fact,
absolutely true. All of the other ones, including the racism consistently
exhibited by council members, have been acknowledged off the record by RSA
administrative staff. The feds even forgot two of the findings they
mentioned after having spent a week observing all of the players up front
and personal: it was obvious that not only the council but several center
directors didn't seem to understand the independent living philosophy, and
it was clear that the state agency had fostered the division that was
hampering forward movement. 

Among the findings they were willing to make public: 

-- Although Title VII requires the SILC to be autonomous from the state
agency, the Indiana SILC didn't control its own staff or finances - they
didn't even receive mail addressed to them

-- the SILC didn't have a mechanism in place to monitor and direct the
activities of its fiscal agent, whose fiscal system had weak internal

-- Indiana SILC members have been illegally retained long past their terms
expired sometimes as long as a decade (all the while, we might add,
screening out potential applicants who thought they were applying directly
to the Governor's offices.) All but four members were found to be unable
to continue serving on the council. 

-- There were significant conflicts of interest caused by having the same
person assigned responsibilities for both the state agency and the Indiana

-- there have been none of the required representatives appointed by the
Governor:  a center director, a representative from the DSU and
representatives from state agencies providing services to people with
disabilities (note: the DSU simply assigned different people from time to
time, often people with clear conflicts of interest)

-- The SILC wasn't exercising control over its staff or financial
resources and didn't even have policies or mechanisms in place to monitor
or direct its activities. 

-- The state fiscal system had weak internal controls, and financial
reports provided to the SILC didn't even include basic information such as
the source of funds, date of expenditures, consistent use of expenditure
codes and a key for those codes. 

-- Significant conflicts of interests had been created by having the same
individual performing specific tasks for the state agency which conflicted
with her responsibilities as the designated staffperson for the SILC -
council membership hadn't even received mail directed to their attention

-- The SILC had no polices for conducting its meetings or public hearings,
and had failed to provide reasonable accommodation for people with sensory

-- The SILC didn't have any of the required membership outlined in Title
VII (representative from the network of centers, representative from the
designated state unit or state agencies providing services to people with

-- RSA had found no evidence to indicate that there have been any efforts
to monitor, review and evaluate the implementation of the State plan nor
any efforts to coordinate activities with the State Rehabilitation Council
or other councils. 

-- The DSU and SILC had failed to identify during its public hearings
those provisions in the State plan that had been State-imposed
requirements. (Note:  they came up with new ones every couple of months
with a threat that if they weren't met Centers would lose their funding). 

-- Accommodation for people with disabilities at the Indiana SILC's public
meetings was inconsistent at best.  RSA cited examples of the council
denying requests for reasonable accommodations. 

-- Based on the information gained during RSA's monitoring and from the
scant information contained in ICOIL minutes of meetings, it didn't appear
that ICOIL was making efforts to fulfill all of its duties under the

-- Finally, the state and SILC failed to amend their plan to recognize the
Ruben Center once it received Part C funds back in 1998 (note: by this
time the total amount illegally denied while the state campaigned against
that recognition is close to a million dollars). 

So what was the ICOIL membership's reaction to all of this, when they held
their meeting a few weeks after it was released? 

It seems that RSA had misspelled a few words, so they were going to send
them the corrections. Right after they wrote a letter asking them to let
them "roll-over" their funds for the third year in a row because seemingly
there was nothing they could have spent them on that would have benefited
people with disabilities in the state of Indiana. 

All of that other stuff?  No discouraging words were spoken. 

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