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Union head accuses Disabilty Rights Iowa of responsibility in more Eldora assaults
May 17, 2018

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An attack last Saturday at the Boys State Training School at Eldora is reported to have resulted in serious injury to an employee.

In response, AFSCME Council 61 President Danny Homan issued a statement which accuses Disability Rights Iowa, the federally-funded private attorney group, with responsibility.

"What we do know is that an employee was assaulted so severely by a resident that he had to be transferred from a local hospital to Iowa City to undergo surgery and have a plate put in his face from a broken nose and orbital bone. This is yet another example of a juvenile inappropriately emboldened through conversations with attorneys at Disability Rights Iowa (DRI) resulting in a downright dangerous environment. A second juvenile assaulted another staff member on Sunday evening resulting in a black eye," Homan said.

Toledo Closed

DRI launched an investigation of the Eldora facility at about the same time or shortly after it issued a report making accusations about alleged mistreatment and lack of educational opportunities for students at the Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School for Girls in Toledo.

The then Governor, Terry Branstad, and?Department of Human Services Director Charles Palmer ultimately closed the Toledo institution leaving the 27-acre Toledo campus sitting idle since.

The closing resulted in questions which still arise about the fate of some of the students and what measures are now being taken to care for children found to be in need of assistance and girls adjudged delinquent.

The closure also resulted in the loss of jobs for 93 IJH / Training School employees at Toledo.

In response to a similar report made by Homan about an April assault at Eldora, State Rep. Dean Fisher (R-Monsour) wrote in A Letter ot The Chronicle Editor, "We cannot continue with DRI causing safety problems in our juvenile facilities, nor can we tolerate them using our federal tax dollars to endlessly harass them in order to enforce their bizarre requirements.

"Not only is this creating a safety issue, it is also a waste of federal tax dollars, it is a waste of Iowa's state tax dollars defending ourselves from these federally funded lawsuits filed by DRI, and ultimately any attempts to comply with these bizarre demands by DRI will increase the cost of holding these juvenile delinquents if it's even possible to meet the contradictory demands of DRI in any facility."

He continued, "We must either restrain DRI, or defund them. I have contacted Senator Grassley's office, Senator Ernst's office, and Representative Blum's office regarding this matter. I would encourage the readers of this newspaper to do the same. A letter or phone call is always worthwhile, or on easy approach I could suggest would be to simply mail a hardcopy of this article to each of our US Congresspersons along with your note suggesting they do something about this behavior."

State Responsibility

Homan also pointed fingers in a news release at the State of Iowa and recent rule changes. In the news release he said, "It is unfortunate that information about the brutal assault on Saturday at the State Training School at Eldora is just now coming to light. After the gutting of collective bargaining, we are no longer able to bargain over health and safety issues in the workplace and management refuses to communicate with us. This incident was kept under wraps for four days just to minimize backlash on the sad state of affairs and the inadequate staffing that have come to define this facility.

"At the end of the day, the State of Iowa needs to take responsibility for this pattern of violence that is being allowed to permeate their facility."

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