The Ottumwa Courier

AP Iowa

July 24, 2013

Education complaint against Iowa DHS in the works

(Continued)

Any calculations the state is required to do in connection with a Disability Rights Iowa complaint could be limited in scope. The Department of Education said the only violations that could be considered as part of the complaint process were those that occurred within one year of the complaint being filed.

Gov. Terry Branstad's spokesman, Tim Albrecht, declined to comment on the matter, saying the governor's office would need to see the specifics of the complaint first.

Branstad on Monday expressed his full support for Charles Palmer, the director of the Iowa Department of Human Services, which runs the home. Branstad said his liaison to DHS, Michael Bousselot, "has assured me the department has taken the appropriate action to prevent these kinds of things from happening in the future. I don't try to micro-manage departments and agencies."

Palmer and the home's interim superintendent, Mark Day, said they haven't looked into how many youths were kept in isolation in recent years, or for how long. So the full scope of the practice — and the state's potential liability — remains unknown.

Kirstein said he returned to the home with another investigator on Tuesday to continue looking into practices there. He disputed the Department of Human Services' stance that it has addressed the problems.

"There are significant changes that still need to occur," said Kirstein. "There still is no independent body or government agency that oversees what DHS is doing at this facility. This is not the end. It's only the beginning."

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