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Sound Bites: Victory for disability rights in CT discrimination case

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Good morning. Sarah Hernandez, an autistic and deaf member of the Enfield, Conn., school board, has won a federal discrimination lawsuit.  

For two years, the Town of Enfield and the Board of Education denied her accommodations, including written communication and face-to-face interaction. A federal jury sided with Hernandez, finding the discrimination violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. Hernandez said people with disabilities have the right to participate equally in government and have their voices heard.

Here’s a bite-sized look at what we’re hearing:

The American Cancer Society predicts 2 million new cancer cases in the U.S. this year. That includes 122,990 expected cases in New York, and 23,550 in Connecticut. There has been a decline in cancer deaths due to decreased smoking, early screening and enhanced treatments. Black and Native American individuals face heightened death rates for certain cancers due to healthcare inequities.

Crisis avoided thanks to the Say Something app. Police in Guilford, Connecticut located a high school student with a "kill list" through the reporting app Say Something from Sandy Hook Promise. Police intervened before the unidentified student had the ability to act on the list, and there was no threat to public safety. The Say Something program was started by the parents of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims.

Long Island midwife falsified vaccination records. Jeanette Breen of Baldwin Midwifery will pay $150,000 for falsely reporting over 12,000 vaccinations since 2019. Instead of required school vaccinations, she admitted to giving children a series of homeopathic oral pellets. Nearly 275 students from Suffolk County had vaccination records from this practice and are out of compliance with vaccination requirements for school attendance. These students will be excluded from school until they receive their vaccinations. Breen promised to inform patients they are not in compliance.

Half of Connecticut school districts have implemented state-mandated reading curricula. The "Right to Read" mandate aims to teach literacy to students in kindergarten through grade 3. The deadline for enforcing these curriculums has been extended to July 2025. The state Department of Education has received 85 proposals for waivers, with 17 meeting conditions for approval. Yet, some wealthier communities have been refused approval for waivers.

A Calverton teen was charged with making a terrorist threat. A 14-year-old student was charged with making a terroristic threat against a Riverhead charter school following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The teen, who was not identified due to age, allegedly made a threat of mass harm via social media. The student was first charged with a Class B misdemeanor, but “additional evidence” upgraded the charges to a Class D felony.

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Andrea Quiles is a fellow at WSHU.