Providence and the state of Rhode Island allowed a school to use developmentally disabled students to do manual labor for little or no pay.

Both the city and state received a stern letter from the Civil Rights Division of the U. S. Department of Justice.

“Both Providence and the state allowed the Harold H. Birch Vocational School to operate a “sheltered workshop” that segregated kids with disabilities from other students and denied them the opportunity for integrated employment when they completed their schooling, according to a letter from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Birch obtains contracts with private businesses to perform work, such as bagging, labeling, collating, and assembling jewelry,” the letter stated.

“One former student stated that she was required to spend a much greater portion of her school day in the workshop, including full days, when the workshop had important production deadlines.”