What's New

A War Worth Fighting – Blog Post about Voucher Schools

DRW has long been concerned about voucher schools discriminating against students with disabilities and the impact that the increased concentration of students with special education needs has on the diminishing resources of the public schools. Click the following link to read a blog by one of the attorneys who is working on the voucher case with us: A War Worth Fighting.

Disability Rights Wisconsin 2013 Annual Report

Expect More, Disability Rights Wisconsin Report to the Community 2013 annual report cover pageDisability Rights Wisconsin has issued its 2013 Report to the Community: “Expect More.” The 2013 annual report highlights advances made in fair employment practices, youth transition, mental health services, and end of life protection for people with disabilities. Read the full report here and share in DRW’s good work.

DRW Pleased With Outcome of DHS Review

Disability Rights Wisconsin is pleased that the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Chief Legal Counsel has issued a favorable finding – concluding the review into DRW’s release of its expert’s report on six deaths that occurred at the Milwaukee Mental Health Complex in 2012.

“DRW appreciates the thorough nature of the Chief Counsel’s review and reiterates its commitment to advocate for the highest quality of life for all persons with disabilities, particularly those who are most vulnerable,” commented Executive Director Daniel Idzikowski.

DHS’ letter to Governor Walker dated June 13 concluded that DRW did not commit a violation of its duty as the state’s designated Protection and Advocacy Agency.

For more about this development, follow this link: DRW Pleased with Outcome of DHS Review.

DRW’s Elise Cassidente receives Ryan Klesh Public Interest Legal Worker Award

DRW Milwaukee Office Coordinator, Elise Cassidente, is the first recipient of the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Ryan Klesh Public Interest Legal Worker Award. Elise captures the essence of Ryan’s selflessness, work ethic, and humor in working to seek justice for our low-income neighbors, family, and friends. Letters nominating Elise noted that: “Her formidable intellect, passion for social justice, and tireless dedication to the people we serve truly capture the essence of Ryan Klesh’s tremendous legacy.  Elise has dedicated her professional life to public interest law and to seeking justice for low income people”.  This new award is named after Ryan Klesh, an administrative staff person for SeniorLAW at Legal Action of Wisconsin’s Milwaukee office from 2001 until his death in 2006.

Job Posting: Receptionist/Clerical Assistant – DRW Madison Office

Receptionist/Clerical Assistant, 25 hours/week (Mon.-Fri. – Noon to 5:00). Experience: database, word processing, MS Word, Excel, answering multi-line phone, screening and routing calls. Bilingual in Spanish/English required.  $13-$16/hour DOE.  Excellent fringe benefits.   For detailed position announcement click here, or call 608-267-0214.  Resume and cover letter by June 30 to:  Disability Rights Wisconsin, 131 W. Wilson St., Ste. 700, Madison, WI  53703 or email to info@drwi.org.  Members of racial/ethnic minority groups and persons with disabilities strongly encouraged to apply.  EEO/AA employer.

DRW Public Policy Director Lisa Pugh’s Hometown Newspaper Celebrates her Appointment to Presidential Committee

Reprinted courtesy of the Dodge County Pionier:



Daughter’s rare disability sparks passion and vision

by Gayle Rydstrom

Shortly after Erika Pugh was born 14 years ago, she was diagnosed with a rare disability called Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome (RTS).

According to the RTS website, the disability ‘refers to a specific pattern of physical features and developmental disabilities which occur together in a consistent fashion. Individuals with Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome have short stature, developmental delay, similar facial features, and broad thumbs and first toes.’

“[Erika’s] early years were tough on our family,” said Horicon native Lisa Pugh, Erika’s mother. “She was fed through a tube for the first three years of her life and had many therapies and doctor appointments.”

Lisa discovered her strong views regarding inclusion for people with disabilities and her passion for advocating on behalf of other families because of Erika’s disability. Erika does not speak and has a significant disability, but she is the core of the Pugh family.

“My husband [Michael, a Mayville native] and I have a vision for including Erika in everything we do and to support her to live as independent and fulfilling life as possible,” said Lisa. “We strongly believe every person with a disability has something to contribute to our communities and they should not be segregated in our schools, our workplaces or our places of worship.”

On May 9, Lisa was appointed to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. It is a two-year term. Although Lisa will visit Washington at least twice each year, she and her family will continue to live in Madison.   Click here to read the rest of DRW Public Policy Director Lisa Pugh’s Hometown Newspaper Celebrates her Appointment to Presidential Committee »

Save the Date: 2014 Milwaukee Mental Health Task Force Summit- Understanding Recovery

2014 MILWAUKEE MENTAL HEALTH TASK FORCE SUMMIT Understanding Recovery: Health Home Purpose Community - Making Our Lives Better   September 10, 2014 Italian Community Center, 613 E. Chicago St., Milwaukee   This year’s Summit will focus on educating the audience about recovery and furthering dialogue within the community about recovery.   TARGET AUDIENCE: peers, providers, advocates, family members, policy makers, educators   KEYNOTE SPEAKER:  Paolo del Vecchio, MSW and Director of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Center for Mental Health Services. A self-identified mental health consumer, trauma survivor, and person in recovery from addictions, Paolo has been involved for over 40 years in behavioral health as a consumer, family member, provider, advocate, and policy maker.   Other speakers to date include Reverend Walter Lanier and Mike Phillips, LCSW, AODA counselor with Quad/Graphics EAP and AODA Services.   Participants will work together to develop an action plan to promote recovery in Wisconsin.   For sponsorship opportunities visit www.milwaukeemhtf.org.   SAVE THE DATE – ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND REGISTRATION COMING SOON AT WWW.MILWAUKEEMHTF.ORG

DRW Supports Federal Law to Boost Community-Based Mental Health Supports

Disability Rights Wisconsin actively supports a new federal bill – H.R. 4574 – the Strengthening Mental Health in Our Communities Act of 2014. This bill maximizes access for individuals with mental illness to quality community-based services. In contrast, DRW has concerns about H.R. 3717 -a bill introduced by Congressman Tim Murphy which would exchange community-based services that have a proven track record of success with far more expensive, invasive, and ineffective interventions. The bill would also result in significant cuts to Wisconsin mental health funding. Click here to read the rest of DRW Supports Federal Law to Boost Community-Based Mental Health Supports »

Milwaukee Mental Health Task Force – Nominations for Karen Avery Award

The Milwaukee Mental Health Task Force is seeking nominations for the Karen Avery Award, which recognizes an individual who has demonstrated a commitment to advancing the rights of people with disabilities and to the consumer movement. Given the mission of the Task Force, we are especially interested in nominees who have been active in advancing the rights and independence of people with mental illness.

If you were inspired by Karen Avery and her passion for advancing the rights of people with disabilities, please consider nominating someone for the first annual Karen Avery Award. Self nominations are also welcome.  Click the following link for more information on the nominating process: MMHTF Karen Avery Award 05142014.

Job Posting – DRW Madison Office – Advocacy Specialist – Re-posting

Half time position in DRW’s Madison Office to provide advocacy assistance, outreach, training, and systemic advocacy.  Salary $12,000 – $23,000 for .5 FTE DOE.  Excellent fringe benefits.  For position description and application instructions, click here: adv sp job announcement 5FTE or call 608-267-0214.  Resume and cover letter due by 4:30 pm on June 13 to:  Disability Rights Wisconsin, 131 W. Wilson St., Suite 700, Madison, WI 53703 or info@drwi.org.  Members of racial/ethnic minority groups and persons with disabilities strongly encouraged to apply.  EEO/AA Employer.