AUSTIN -- Hundreds of residents at Texas' state schools for the mentally retarded have suffered serious abuse and neglect at the hands of those paid to watch over them, according to a Dallas Morning News review of five years worth of employee disciplinary records.
The documents outline everything from horrific physical violence to frightening verbal threats, derogatory slurs and pranks. And they appear to confirm critics' worst suspicion: Problems exist throughout facilities for Texas' most fragile residents, not just at the Lubbock State School, the subject of a critical U.S. Justice Department report in December.
In one 2006 case at the Brenham State School, a nurse assistant kicked and punched a mentally retarded resident on the bathroom floor, fracturing three ribs and puncturing the resident's liver. In a 2000 incident at the Abilene State School, an aide ignored a resident, who was found hours later, naked in a Dumpster. Other employees have left residents covered in feces and urine for hours, made them eat off of plates where they'd vomited, and fallen asleep on the job, waking only after residents engaged in sexual acts.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Aging and Disability Services, the state agency that operates the 13 Texas facilities providing around-the-clock care for the mentally retarded, said she was looking into the records.
Other cases reported in the last several years include:
In one cited case, employees found a woman unresponsive but failed to perform CPR or call for help for a half-hour. Paramedics determined she had been dead for hours because rigor mortis already had set in. Employees had falsified reports to indicate someone had checked on the woman.
Agency officials have repeatedly called the Lubbock State School cases isolated, and said they have installed across-the-board changes and hired new medical directors and incident managers.
And they've cautioned against comparing the state school system's problems to those inside the Texas Youth Commission -- still reeling from a months-long sexual and physical abuse scandal early this year.
SEE RELATED: Letter of December 11, 2006 to Texas Governor Rick Perry from Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General re: CRIPA Investigation of the Lubbock State School Lubbock, Texas
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