BELLEVILLE-- A $400,000, state-funded study of the aftereffects of closing the Jacksonville Developmental Center is tainted because its lead researcher is biased, an Illinois lawmaker has charged.
The Belleville-News Democrat reported Sunday the study by the University of Illinois at Chicago found overwhelming support among the families and guardians of former Jacksonville residents for the community-based settings into which those patients were moved.
Rep. Charlie Meier, a Republican from Okawville, questions the credibility of the results because a lead researcher on the project was Amie Lulinski, a UIC staff member who has also served for years on the board of directors for Arc of Illinois, which supports also closing the Murray Developmental Center in Centralia, which Meier opposes.
"We all know where Arc stands on this. Arc wants every facility closed," Meier told the newspaper.
Gov. Pat Quinn wants the centers shuttered to save money and improve residents' quality of life.
Lulinski was a senior research specialist at the university's Institute on Disability and Human Development, which conducted the study. But Art of Illinois announced in June that Lulinski would join that organization's national policy team.
Arc of Illinois director Tony Paulauski said the research was done fairly and its findings are solid.
"The people that are opposed to closing Murray, they'll use every excuse in the book," Paulauski said. "This research confirms the same findings from every other institutional closing in the last 25 to 30 years."
Preliminary results showed almost 90 percent of guardians believe that their loved ones who had been institutionalized at Jacksonville are better off, or just as happy.
Melaney Arnold, spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Health, which issued the contract, said the university's researchers are internationally recognized.
"Just because you have an interest in something doesn't mean it impacts how you do your job," Arnold said.
The two-year study requires the university to evaluate the closures of both Jacksonville and Murray.