On Monday night, October 12, the Westside Regional Center board of directors held a special meeting. The meeting was attended by a quorum of the board and over 100 consumers, family members, service providers, and staff. We witnessed the courage of self-advocates standing up for their civil rights and demanding that they be treated with respect and dignity. We witnessed staff brave enough to tell the truth. We witnessed family members and service providers uniting behind the self-advocates. And we witnessed heroic board members who made the critical decision to take back their regional center and return it to a place of kindness, support, and trust.
Despite the last minute attempt by the board chair and executive director to illegally cancel the special meeting, it was attended by nine board members, a quorum according to the WRC by-laws. The Board President and the Executive Director chose not to attend. The standing-room only crowd included representatives from Senator Holly Mitchell’s office and the State Council on Developmental Disabilities (SCDD), who announced that they had opened investigations into several issues including the appearance of retaliation in the termination of the facilitator vendor contract, as well as the attempt to cancel the special meeting.
The Vice President of the board presided over the meeting where the board considered and passed unanimously three resolutions: expressing concerns about recent terminations of senior staff, directing the Board Chair to respond to the prior requests of the Consumer Advisory Committee, and expressing grave concerns about the recent termination of vendored services by the consumers’ trusted facilitator. The community universally expressed support for the resolutions.
The board then went into closed session where they voted on the following actions:
— immediately terminating Kevin MacDonald as Executive Director.
— bringing in Mike Danneker to lead the regional center on a short-term basis while a search for a new Executive Director is conducted.
— reinstating the three senior staff members and the consumer facilitator who were fired by Kevin MacDonald.
Each of these motions were passed unanimously: 9-0.
We applaud the board members for their leadership, courage, and integrity. We commend the amazing staff at WRC who continued to do their jobs in exceptional ways, despite an environment of intimidation and fear. We thank the community of families and service providers for their critical support. But most importantly, we salute our true heroes — the consumers and self-advocates whose tenacity and demand for respect led all of us to this place of justice and peace.
It is time now for the community of Westside Regional Center to come together and heal. We remain lucky to be part of the Westside Regional Center. Long live the Westside Way.
Parent of Joshua, A Proud Consumer of Westside Regional Center
*This letter was printed with the permission of Judy Mark and originally posted here.*