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Executive Director Issues a Statement in Response to the Development of the Explorer Academy

Over the past fifty years, the disability rights movement, led by people with disabilities and their allies have (mostly) freed our people. We have closed down (most) statewide institutions, have won lawsuits that affirmed our equal rights, have fought for and improved home and community-based services, and earned the right to expect, and to demand, a free and appropriate public education.

The aspect of disability history so many fail to fully grasp is the efforts to limit the rights of people has often been led by well-educated professionals who believed they could justify their actions.

Efforts by the Fargo School District to roll back these hard-fought rights and to re-segregate youth with disabilities is a disgrace. The attempts to justify these efforts by saying the school district has to create a facility to meet federal standards ignores the reality that schools all over the country operate without segregated education and stay within compliance of the law.

We are once again seeing well-meaning professionals promote the false narrative that youth with disabilities are better off segregated. History has shown us the segregation of people with disabilities leads to lifelong poverty, dependency, and institutionalization. The cost of this dependency is measured in lost human potential and an increased burden to the taxpayer.

What happens in Fargo often is used as a model for how things should be done in other parts of the state. It is likely only a matter of time before our local school boards are put under pressure to follow the lead of the Fargo School District.

The only way to stop this is for advocates to let it be known, we will never accept segregation, we will never allow isolation, and we will never allow our freedoms to become extinct.

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