Birch School

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

A year ago, Rhode Island agreed to find better opportunities for at least 2,000 people with developmental and learning disabilities. It was part of a settlement after a federal investigation uncovered a program that funneled people with disabilities into jobs doing menial labor for very little pay. 

The attorney for the former head of an agency that allegedly had disabled people working for less than minimum wage maintains his client did nothing wrong.

John Cicilline says he has received paperwork from the U.S. Justice Department relating to John Capobianco, Sr. and his nonprofit company Training Through Placement, but he said yesterday he had not yet had time to review it.

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras says he is “outraged and saddened” by the findings of a Federal Justice Department investigation, alleging civil rights violations in a program for disabled students.

In a written statement, Taveras says the program, which ran for two decades at the Birch Vocational School inside Mt. Pleasant High School, failed its most vulnerable students. The city is looking into pursuing criminal charges.