Throughout my education and early adulthood, policies and awareness changed about people with disabilities in America. During these formative years, I saw legislation, educational policies, and attitudes expand to include new opportunities. I was a freshman in college in 1975. That was the same year that Public Law 94-142 (Education of All Handicapped Children Act) was passed by Congress. Now codified as IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), this law requires states that receive federal funds to develop and implement policies that assure appropriate public education, at no cost, to all children with disabilities. In 1995, I was teaching Special Education in Texas. That is the year that Governor George W. Bush put into law the Texas model of No Child Left Behind. This law's intent, which became a federal law in 2001, provides a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high quality education for ALL students. My school district interpreted this law to require all students to be integrated in regular classes.
I have had the privilege in the state of Indiana to actively be on teams that led to the closure of the Silvercrest Residential School for Children with Disabilities in 2006, provide recommendations for people with intellectual disabilities to be discharged from Indiana facilities intended for people with mental illness in 2009, and these teams led to the closure of two nursing facilities, Arcadia Developmental Center in 2013 and Hickory Creek in 2014. It is no wonder that my career in education and currently as the CEO and President of OPG, Inc. was the force of our model of services for people with disabilities. This model of integration in communities has led to people being recognized with the desire to have dreams come true, and to strive for relationships with natural supports. Through this model, individuals can avoid dependency on federal and state dollars while building the capacity to lead independent lives with equal opportunities.
I have a huge amount of pride that OPG, Inc.'s employee owners demonstrate our company's values within every interaction. I have tremendous confidence that OPG, Inc.'s mission will continue to impact the lives of people we have known, we currently know, and those we will meet in the future. I do not have the wisdom to know what OPG, Inc. will be like in the next 25 years but I do have the conviction that it will be unique, it will be an agency of hopefulness, and it will maintain the foundation it was built upon.
I thank you for the privilege of being your CEO and President.
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