(May 7, 2008)--About one-fourth of more than 800 employees suspended or fired for mistreatment at 13 state facilities for the mentally and developmentally disabled worked at either the Lubbock of Denton State Schools, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.
The two facilities have been under investigation by the civil rights department at the U.S. Department of Justice.
An AP analysis of state records revealed that at least 208 employees at those facilities have been fired or suspended since fiscal year 2004 for mistreating patients.
The records also show that nearly 58 percent of the 822 firings or suspensions since fiscal 2004 for abuse, neglect or exploitation of residents came from four of the 13 state schools, Lubbock, Denton, San Angelo and Mexia.
Since fiscal year 2004, 120 employees have either been fired or suspended from the Mexia State School for abuse, neglect or exploitation of residents.
The Mexia facility opened in 1946 on the site of a World War II prisoner of war camp that housed about 5,000 German POWs.
It houses about 500 people with mild to profound retardation and has about 1,400 employees.
The Associated Press obtained the figures through an open records request to the Department of Aging and Disability Services, which oversees the state schools.
The department has so far declined to release figures from the state schools in Denton and Lubbock, claiming an exemption to disclosure laws because the figures are "pertaining to pending or anticipated litigation."
AP was unable to determine the number of suspended or fired employees at Denton and Lubbock individually.
It was only possible to come up with a combined number for the two schools.
Critics of state schools have said the number of disciplined employees is proof that the facilities are ineffective and dangerous and should be closed in favor of smaller, community-based settings.
Supporters of state schools, including families with loved ones at the facilities, say they offer the best available care for the state's most vulnerable residents, the AP reported.
Gov. Rick Perry and other state officials have defended the suspensions and firings as proof of a zero tolerance policy for abuse by the Department of Aging and Disability Services.
Disciplined State School Workers By Facility
(Employees fired or suspended from Texas state schools for the abuse, neglect or exploitation of residents since fiscal year 2004. Figures for state schools in Lubbock and Denton were unavailable. Source: Associated Press)
San Angelo State School, 145
Mexia State School, 120
Corpus Christi State School, 95
Abilene State School, 74
San Antonio State School, 71
Austin State School, 35
Richmond State School, 28
Lufkin State School, 22
Brenham State School, 13
Rio Grande State Center, 7
El Paso State Center, 4