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XXXX : This letter constitutes our Letter of Findings in response to your complaint filed with our office against the Alleghany County Department of Social Services (Department) under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Title II of the ADA protects qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of disability in the services, programs, and activities of a State or local government. Your complaint alleges that the Department made recommendations to the District Court for Alleghany County, North Carolina (Court), that were based on eligibility criteria that were in violation of the ADA. You have stated that you petitioned the Court for custody of your two minor grandchildren and that, in proceedings before the Court, the Department introduced evidence of your prior hospitalization in a psychiatric hospital as the basis for its recommendation that custody be denied to you. You further stated that this hospitalization occurred in 1984 and 1986 and has no bearing on your current ability to parent your grandchildren. Section 35.130 (b) (8) of the Department of Justice's title II regulation prohibits the use by a public entity of any eligibility criteria that would screen out or tend to screen out persons with disabilities from the full enjoyment of the benefits of any program, service, or activity of the entity, unless the criteria can be shown to be necessary for the provision of the service, program, or activity. The program operated by the Department for the placement of children after a court ordered termination of parental rights falls within this prohibition. Prior to the custody hearing, this office contacted the Department. The Department agreed verbally that it would take steps to protect your rights under the ADA. Specifically, the
01-00102 -2 Department agreed that, with respect to your history of mental illness, it would agree to base any arguments against your petition for custody entirely on evidence that was related to your current ability to parent and care for your minor grandchildren, and that particular care would be taken where that evidence was more than five years old. After reviewing the Department's written final argument to the court and relevant portions of the trial transcript, we find that, while the eligibility criteria that were used would tend to screen out individuals with disabilities, they were, in this case, necessary to the operation of the placement program of the Alleghany County Department of Social Services. Therefore, we have determined that no violation of title II occurred. This letter contains our determination with respect to your allegations of discrimination in your administrative complaint. If you are dissatisfied with our determination, you may file a complaint presenting your allegations of discrimination in an appropriate United States District Court under title II of the ADA. Under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 522, we may be required to release this letter and other correspondence and records related to the complaint in response to a request from a third party. Should we receive such a request, we will safeguard, to the extent permitted by law, release of information that could constitute an unwarranted invasion of your or other's privacy.
If you have any questions regarding this letter, please contact Merle Morrow at  514-3571. Sincerely,
Stewart B. Oneglia Chief Coordination and Review Section Civil Rights Division cc: Dan R. Murray Attorney at Law