Disability Agency Head Steps Down After Blanket Fight
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 18, 2006
MIAMI, FLORIDA--The head of a state disability agency has resigned following a very public squabble over a boy's blankets.
Shelly Brantley, the director of the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities, resigned on December 8, one day after Governor-elect Charlie Crist criticized her agency for refusing to spend $360 a year on special thermal blankets for 12-year-old Kevin Estinfil.
Kevin is blind, has cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder, and cannot regulate his body temperature. The Miami Herald reported on December 6 that Kevin's doctors say he needs three of the special blankets each month, at a cost of about $10 each.
The agency said the blankets were not deemed to be 'medically necessary', and decided instead to spend thousands of dollars in legal costs to fight the request.
On December 7, Crist, who has been the state's attorney general since 2003, ordered his office to immediately stop the legal fight against Kevin. Crist also wrote a personal check for the blankets, and mailed it to the 14-bed group home where the boy lives.
Upon announcing her resignation, Brantley's spokesperson, Lindsay Hodges, reportedly insisted that Brantley had already planned to leave her position in January, when Governor Jeb Bush steps down.
Hodges said that the number of people served through the agency tripled under Brantley's leadership during the past two years, with 95 percent of them receiving services in the community rather than large institutions.
"State denies sick boy $360 for blankets" (Miami Herald)
"Donors and state warm up to boy's need for blankets" (Miami Herald)
"Editorial: The coldest state agency" (Palm Beach Post)
"Disabilities agency chief resigns amid blanket battle" (Miami Herald)