For Immediate Release
May 23, 2007
Contact: Richard A. Cohen, Esq., Executive Director
Disabilities Rights Center, (603) 228-0432
Attorney Ronald Lospennato, Legal Director for the Disabilities Rights Center, is leaving the Disabilities rights Center after 28 years to accept a position with the Southern Poverty Law Center in New Orleans. He will be heading up a project to reduce the increasing number of children with behavioral disorders who end up in the juvenile justice system, often referred to as the “schoolhouse to jailhouse pipeline”.
Shortly after the Disabilities Rights Center was first incorporated, Lospennato was hired as the first attorney. He was quickly promoted to Legal Director, and has served at the DRC for the past 28 years.
“Almost two years after Katrina, New Orleans continues play important role in the American psyche,” Lospennato said. “What happened in the wake of Katrina, has brought home to most of us, in the most graphic way possible, the unfulfilled promises of the civil rights movement; Katrina laid bare the deep social, economic class, and race divides that infect this country. For that reason, I believe that having the opportunity to work in New Orleans on a nationwide project to improve the quality of, and end the unlawful and harmful exclusion of children from, public education will be a tremendous experience and challenge.”
Lospennato’s legal advocacy at the DRC has been instrumental in advancing the rights of individuals with disabilities in special education, mental health, developmental disabilities, and in many other areas.
Some of Lospennato’s most important legal victories have included:
In 2003, Lospennato received the prestigious Frank Rowe Kenison Award for his exemplary legal work and accomplishments as a disabilities rights advocate. The impact of his work, both as a litigator, supervisor, mentor, and trainer has been felt not only in New Hampshire, but around the country.
In 2002, Lospennato received the Bruce Friedman award from the New Hampshire Partners in Service, which declared in a statement that “his countless hours of hard work and undying commitment to children over the years has propelled NH service delivery away from institutions and toward community based care.”
Richard Cohen, DRC’s Executive Director and longtime colleague and friend, greeted Lospennato’s departure with mixed emotions, stating, “While Ron’s departure is a great loss for DRC and New Hampshire’s legal and disabilities communities, the impact of his legal advocacy will continue to be felt in New Hampshire and nationally.”
More information about the Southern Poverty Law Center can be found at: http://www.splcenter.org/index.jsp.
The DRC is New Hampshire’s designated Protection and Advocacy system, and is dedicated to eliminating barriers existing in New Hampshire to the full and equal enjoyment of civil and other legal rights by people with disabilities. More information about DRC can be found at http://www.drcnh.org.