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GUILDERLAND: A hope for reform: Family pushes to change law

"In these records is the evidence of the abuse," said Lisa Carey.

Jonathan's parents first tried to receive the report through a Freedom of Information Law, or FOIL, request in the spring of 2005, said Michael Carey.

In August, OMRDD denied the request, citing mental hygiene and education laws.

The parents appealed the decision, and received another letter denying their request on Sept. 14, 2005, which provided a more detailed explanation: "Both the HIPAA Privacy Rule and New York State law exempt certain quality assurance records, including incident reports and related investigative records, from access by an individual and his representatives."

The letter, sent by OMRDD's FOIL Appeals Officer, said that Education Law 6527 gives the organization the authority to withhold quality assurance records that are required by Mental Hygiene Law, including the investigative records that the Careys are seeking.

The response finished: "Although we will not provide you with copies of the investigative reports, you have received a letter summarizing the findings from the regional office's director John Mizerak."

The letter from Mizerak, dated Dec. 20, 2004, said that the independent investigation substantiated many of the Careys' complaints including that the parents were not involved in the development of Jonathan's plan of care.

Furthermore, the letter states that staff training was inadequate, resulting in certain programs and treatments that were unable to be carried out as prescribed.

The letter also stated, "that Jonathan's meals were not provided as prescribed and were modified for behavioral management purposes. This is clearly not allowed by regulation."

For the Careys, this letter is not enough. They argue that this is their son, and they deserve the right to know exactly what was happening to him.

"It's unjust," said Lisa Carey.

It certainly doesn't help, said the parents, that they have been led to believe the report contains proof of abuse.

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