Allow Sara Duzan to return to her family from a group home for the intellectually disabled, which is refusing to allow any contact between her and her family
This petition had 1,475 supporters
Sara Duzan's mother and father, Maryann and Paul, lost their guardianship of Sara in 2009, based on an admission by Maryann that she once slapped her daughter on the cheek, and the apparent perception that the family has been too aggressive in advocating for her.
As a result, a series of increasingly restrictive limits has been placed by court-appointed guardians and residential providers on family communication with Sara. Since June, the family has not been allowed to see Sara, who is currently living in a group residence in Westminster, MA, run by a state-funded, corporate provider.
As of late November, the family was prohibited even from talking with Sara over the phone. The family is afraid Sara is being subjected to what they consider abusive “restraints” by the group residence staff, but they have no way of determining what is actually going on. (Sara is fourth from left in family photo above.)
Maryann contends her daughter, who is now 22, has been kept a virtual prisoner in the residence run by Becket Family of Services since late July. Sara has a condition known as Smith Magenis Syndrome, a genetic disorder characterized by intellectual disability and behavioral outbursts. The family maintains that the use of restraints to control those behaviors actually makes them worse.
According to the family, the restrictions on their contact with Sara and the removal of their guardianship occurred because they called attention to what they termed abusive restraints placed on Sara in previous residential programs in Northfield, NH, and New Marlborough, MA. Their claims about the New Hampshire facility, the Spaulding Youth Center, were corroborated by an attorney for the federally funded Disabilities Rights Center in that state, who found that Sara was repeatedly restrained by staff in the facility between 2008 and 2010.
According to Aaron Ginsberg, the DRC attorney, Sara was often restrained at the Spaulding Youth Center while naked or partially clothed for hours at a time, and male staff were often involved. She frequently suffered bruises and other injuries from what are known as prone restraints, and was subjected to hours of enforced seclusion, Ginsberg stated in an internal DRC memo. In addition, staff at the facility joked about Sara and other residents of the facility on Facebook, Ginsberg wrote.
We share the Duzan family's concerns that Sara is being unjustly isolated in her current provider-run residence and should be returned home immediately to her loving family.
For more information about this case, read COFAR's blog post here.
Also, please read COFAR's follow-up post, which raises troubling questions about more than $13,000 in costs, which have been imposed by the probate court on the Duzan family.
Today: The Massachusetts Coalition of Families and Advocates (COFAR, Inc.) is counting on you
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