US District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro ruled yesterday in Ricci v. Okin that residents of the Fernald Developmental Center in Waltham must be given the option to stay at Fernald as one of their placement options. He wrote:
"Any further communication from Defendant Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation to Fernald residents and their guardians which solicits choices for further residential placement shall include Fernald among the options which residents and guardians may rank when expressing their preferences."
"It does not mean that the Commonwealth may never close Fernald. It does mean, however, that the DMR must carefully assess the needs and wishes of each resident, and provide a genuine and meaningful opportunity for their guardians to participate in their placement decisions."
According to the Boston Globe, the ruling "was greeted as a victory by relatives and supporters of Fernald's residents." The Fernald school has been the subject of litigation for over thirty years.