In April, we noted how 11 Texas employees were let go for their behavior in supervising mentally and developmentally disabled people in a state school. Well, the other shoe has dropped, and it’s a doozy:
Nearly 270 employees were fired or suspended for abusing or neglecting residents of large, state-run institutions for the mentally disabled in Texas during the last fiscal year, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.
The revelations Friday come a day after Gov. Rick Perry signed legislation aimed at improving security and oversight at the 13 institutions, known as state schools. They are home to about 4,600 residents and more than 12,000 full-time employees.
Documents obtained by the AP through an open records request show that 11 of the 268 firings or suspensions were considered serious because they involved physical or sexual abuse that caused or may have caused serious physical injury. Employees may also be fired for a violation as mild as neglecting to protect a resident with mobility problems from stumbling into a wall.
While I’m glad serious disciplinary action was taken in this case, the article did not note how many of the 268 were simply suspended for a day or two. If 250 of them suffered only a one-day suspension, it really isn’t that big a deal (as opposed to if 250 of them were fired).
The article also notes that nobody could tell the Associated Press whether anyone who was fired for a serious violation faced prosecution for the sexual or physical abused that was alleged to have occurred. In other words, good news, but the astounding lack of followup information and details on exactly what actions were taken is indicative of a system that is still resistant to change.
But is this 268 number really a change from the status quo? Apparently not, as you learn at the very end of the article:
Nearly 1,100 employees have been suspended or fired in the last five fiscal years for mistreating, neglecting or abusing residents, according to state records. The fiscal 2008 figures are the most in any of those five years.
That means subtracting the current 268 from 1,100, you get an average of 208 employees a year who get fired or suspended for their mistreatment of the people they are responsible for. A slight increase, yes, but pretty much par for the course in Texas.
Will anything change in the Texas institutions for the mentally disabled?
With Perry’s signing of legislation and with the funding to hire an additional 3,000 employees for the department, one can only hope. But the key parts to hiring 3,000 new employees are background checks and finding qualified applicants. Failure to sufficiently screen such new employees will only continue these kinds of issues for years to come.
Read the full article: 268 punished for abusing disabled in Texas