Man with Down syndrome loses $12 per week job for good

Published On: Oct 09 2012 03:54:05 PM HST   Updated On: Oct 10 2012 03:59:24 AM HST
ANDOVER, Mass. -

Mark Stanganelli, 45, gets plenty of love and support from his parents, but it doesn't make losing his job of 15 years easy to take.

"No one should have to experience this, especially our special guys," said Beverly Stanganelli, Mark's mother.

In June,  Mark Stanganelli received a letter of termination from the Greater Lawrence Education Collaborative, the agency that placed and supervised Mark at the Wyndham Hotel in Andover.

The Wyndham Hotel had no involvement in the hiring or firing of Stanganelli. The Greater Lawrence Educational Collaborative placed him there as part of an on-site program. 

His job polishing silver had been eliminated and GLEC wrote, "The setting was no longer an appropriate option."

After NewsCenter 5 first reported the story this summer, there was an  outpouring of sympathy, including phone calls, letters, and job offers.

"I think people identified with Mark and the need to be fair and treat him as if he was dispensable," said Beverly Stanganelli.

"How could this happen to Mark?" said his father, Jerry Stanganelli.

In response, the state's Department of Developmental Services stepped in and allowed Mark to continue working at the hotel while he was evaluated for other jobs there.

"There were several jobs he could do with assistance from a job coach," said Beverly Stanganelli.

But just weeks later, the family was told by the state and an outside evaluator that Mark could not stay on.

One reason?  No one filed the necessary waiver necessary to pay the sub-minimum wage of $12 dollars a week Mark had received for 15 years.

His parents have always said it's not about the size of Mark's paycheck, but  the dignity of doing a day's work in a hotel where he's beloved.

"They had been without that waiver for 12 years, and if Mark were to go back they would have to apply, and they would not do that. They also wouldn't give him a job coach," said Beverly Stanganelli.

"It came down to the fact they really didn't want him to be there to begin with," he said Jerry Stangenelli.

Now the Stanganellis are reluctantly considering other options for Mark, including adult day-care programs.

"It just breaks your heart. He still wakes up every morning at 6 a.m. and he comes to our room. We tell him there's no work today and that he can go back to bed. And he says he has to go to work. They're waiting for him. This happens every morning," said Beverly Stanganelli.

In a statement to NewsCenter 5, the state's Department of Developmental Services said "We are all very supportive of Mark and that's why we worked with his family and a nationally recognized organization to assess his needs during this transition. That work is ongoing and we continue to work with all parties and have provided viable options for consideration by Mark's family."


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