Over thirty years ago, parents of residents at the Willowbrook State School on Staten Island and their lawyers marched into federal court to file one of the most historic cases regarding civil rights for persons with mental retardation and developmental disabilities.

The resulting consent judgment obligated the State of New York to provide appropriate housing and programs for the more than 6,000 residents known as the “Willowbrook Class.”

Hailed as a “Declaration of Independence” for the developmentally disabled, the consent judgment was the model not only for closing other institutions in the state, but also across the country, and indeed, inspired the closing of notorious institutions around the world.

The Willowbrook Case was never closed, however. Although the consent judgment remains the guiding instrument in the care of the Willowbrook Class, it continues to be a subject of debate in and out of court.

A public discussion on the status of the historic consent judgment.

Katie Meskell, sister of a Willowbrook resident; Executive Director of United Cerebral Palsy of Westchester; and executive producer of “The Unforgotten: 25 Years after Willowbrook”
Beth Haroules, Esq., New York Civil Liberties Union
Ann Nehrbauer, parent of a Willowbrook resident
Ronnie Cohn, Independent Evaluator for the Willowbrook Class
Dr. David Goode, College of Staten Island, moderator

Wednesday, May 7, 2003
6:30 p.m. reception
7:00 p.m. program begins

College of Staten Island Library
Archives and Special Collections, 1L-216
2800 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island NY 10314

The program is free and open to the public. It will be recorded and the tape will become part of the Willowbrook Collection in the CSI Library Archives.

This public discussion is part of the CSI Staten Island Project initiative. CSI-SIP uses the expertise and resources of the college to study issues such as transportation, the environment, business, and health, serving as a non-partisan public affairs interface between borough officials and community leaders.

For additional information, contact Dr. Jeffrey Kroessler in the CSI Library at 718-982-4021, or visit the CSI-SIP Web site at www.csi.cuny.edu/csisip

EDITOR’S NOTE: You are invited to send a reporter and/or camera crew. If you plan to attend or send a representative, please contact Ken Bach at 718-982-2328 to make arrangements or for more information.