During an emergency such as a hurricane or a public health crisis, there is not only a need to focus planning and response efforts on disability-specific aspects of the emergency, but also to seek the input and expertise of people with disabilities in the process. If elected, how would your office work to ensure that state emergency planning (i.e., health testing, sheltering and safety of congregate living populations, et cetera) is inclusive of Florida’s disability communities? How will you work to ensure that communications and other information from the state is accessible to people with disabilities?
Establish emergency plans to include many emergency scenarios and assign roles of responsibility. Have a backup plan for communication should power go out.
In the event that the global pandemic lasts through the current school year or possibly beyond, how would you work with state educational officials to ensure that relevant state and federal educational guarantees for students with disabilities are adhered to, and do you believe that it is possible to appropriately educate students with disabilities remotely or through virtual education?
I do believe the FL DOE can fulfill the special education services remotely. But certified staff must be hired to do regular and ongoing visits sits to students homes. And supply appropriate equipment needed by the individual students.
In recent years, the state legislature has devoted much attention to the issue of mental health service delivery and crisis response systems in state public schools. In your opinion, how should the state work to ensure that the mental health needs of its students are met, and what reforms are needed to provide adequate mental health and crisis response services in our schools? When, if ever, is it appropriate for schools to initiate involuntary examinations for its students under the Florida Mental Health Act (“the Baker Act”)?
This is an area where Florida is quite lacking in services to needy students. We should employ wrap around services to provide and monitor counseling in a regular basis. Guidance counselors used to be used for this purpose until high stakes testing. Return them to their intended responsibilities. In rare cases when a danger to themselves. Baker act is a viable option.
It has become apparent that COVID-19 spreads most easily in institutional and congregate living arrangements. If elected, how would you work to prevent the unnecessary institutionalization of persons with disabilities and reduce other forms of congregate living in favor of serving persons with disabilities in their own homes or the community both during and after the current pandemic? What will you do to ensure that people with psychiatric disabilities are afforded the services they need to succeed in their own homes and communities and avoid psychiatric hospitalization?
I answered this previously. To summarize certified staff should make regular scheduled and non-scheduled visits to their homes. I am not in favor of any congregate living at this time until a vaccine is found or being hospitalized is safer than being at home. Thus case would be a rare one.
Even before the pandemic began and massive job losses ensued, 2.7 million Floridians were uninsured. Research shows that under normal circumstances the uninsured have much greater challenges accessing health care, and these disparities are exacerbated during a health crisis. Do you support expanding the state’s Medicaid program to cover adults (19-64) with income up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level to provide more than 800,000 Floridians with coverage? Why or why not? Do you support proposals to utilize a “block grant” or “per capita cap” approach to contain Medicaid spending? Why or why not?
I absolutely support Medicaid expansion. We live in a country with great disparity in healthcare, jobs, education and living arrangements. One should not be penalized for the family they were born into nor the color of their skin. No I do not believe in a cap.
Despite the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA) and related state and federal laws, the unemployment rate of people with disabilities continues to be much higher than that of people without disabilities. If elected, how would you work to promote meaningful opportunities for supported employment and competitive, integrated employment of people with disabilities in the state? What policies do you advocate to support the academic and career success of students with disabilities, especially for students from historically marginalized communities and backgrounds?
As a former school Principal and serving in other administrative capacities for 35 years, we waste more money in education on the wrong things than any other organization. ‘More money is needed’ is the mantra echoed by those who have a lack of understanding about education. Schools have received billions of dollars over the years for networking and technology. Yet labs go empty and are not utilized to the greatest extent possible. Some teachers but not all, would stop off their students at their lab time with no academic focus. And this is a bold statement but special education in our schools is totally inadequate. Teachers spend more time on paperwork than teaching and low expectations for many of which are brilliant students. In addition there is no Quality Assurance For Special education. Its simply a check in the box compliance system. I would initiate A comprehensive plan that tracks these students to ensure their future with high expectations. That is how the funds should be spent.
Nationwide it is believed that there are more than 750,000 people with disabilities who are incarcerated, and many of these individuals face substantial barriers to reentry when they complete their sentences and return home. What reforms do you support to ensure that returning citizens with disabilities have the resources, skills and mental health supports to succeed when they complete their sentences?
I spent the last five years of my career at Florida State Prison helping inmates obtain a GED. I observed the discrimination first-hand and it is truly a blemish on our entire society. We can do better and should!! First we need to overhaul the entire recently programming because it is useless and does not work. It is a 100 hour program that can be accomplished in many ways. Some of the content is good for coping as an example but it dies nothing to facilitate their success once released. It is far worse for those with disabilities and they have the highest rate of recidivism. It is not an easy answer nor a simple change. A lot of work needs to be done. However, a good start would be for inmates with disabilities to be housed at correctional institutions that have the best vocational programs that can accommodate their unique needs. As it stands now, prisons already compete for these programs as most as totally antiquated like print shops. The vocational programs should coincide with the job market and at present, most do not.
What is your experience working with people with disabilities or alongside disability-led organizations? Please provide examples of your experience addressing and responding to disability issues or describing disability advocacy efforts you have participated in either personally, professionally, or while in elected office if applicable. If elected, how would you integrate the input and perspectives of people with disabilities in your office’s planning and legislative efforts?
As previously mentioned I was a school principal for many years and oversaw special programs for these students. One thing I would do is support wrap around services for Every school. I would also look at other states and the most successful programs. That is what we should do. We learn Best Practice from others.