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Feds says RI, Providence mistreated disabled by segregating them at school, work program

The U.S. Justice Department says Rhode Island and the city of Providence violated the rights of the developmentally disabled by unnecessarily segregating them at a city school and a state-licensed employment program.

The department's Civil Rights Division alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act at the Harold H. Birch Vocational School and the Training Through Placement program in letters to the city and state last week.

Justice officials say a "sheltered workshop" at Birch where students worked long hours doing manual labor for little or no wages served for years as a "direct pipeline" to the similarly segregated Training Through Placement program.

WPRI-TV first reported on the investigation.

Mayor Angel Taveras (tuh-VEHR'-us) says the city shuttered Birch's program and removed its principal. The governor's spokeswoman had no immediate comment.

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