Mark Stanganelli, Worker With Down Syndrome Fired From $12-A-Week Job, Gets It Back [UPDATED]



Budget cuts are the norm across the country. But you'd think this one wouldn't have been a make-or-break expenditure: For 15 years, the Greater Lawrence Educational Collaborative, a nonprofit public entity located outside Boston, paid $12 a week to Mark Stanganelli to polish silver at a Wyndham resort in Andover, Mass.

It's a job that has given the 45-year-old Stanganelli, who has Down syndrome, a "sense of worth," according to his father, Gerald. But last month the collaborative wrote a letter to Stanganelli's parents, of Lawrence, Mass., telling them the $600-a-year job was "no longer an appropriate option for Mark," as was reported by local television station WCVB-TV. (The Greater Lawrence Area Educational Collaborative has not responded to inquiries from AOL Jobs.)

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[UPDATE: This story was updated at 12:30 p.m. EDT on Aug. 9, with a statement from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services and an interview with Gerald Stanganelli.]

In an interview with AOL Jobs on Thursday, Gerald Stanganelli said the decision was made after the Massachusetts Department of Disability Services spent the last year moving his son to a new job -- shredding paper at the hotel -- because the room where the silver-polishing was done was no longer available. A training coach was also appointed to try and prepare Mark for the new work over the course of the year.

After the dismissal went public, and prompted a public outcry calling for Stanganelli's job to be restored on AOL Jobs, among other forums, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services met Wednesday with the Stanganelli family. After the meeting, the office provided a statement to AOL Jobs, which said Stanganelli will be allowed "to stay in a position at the Wyndham while we work with the family." The details, such as Stanganelli's new task, are still being worked out, according to his father. But he added that his son felt deflated by the paper-shredding task and didn't feel as valued as when he shined silver.

Stanganelli's stipend will also be restored, the department's communications director, Alec Loftus, said via email. That pay had been agreed upon in 2002 so that Stanganelli could continue working at the hotel, according to his father.

"The money was not the issue," Gerald Stanganelli said. "When you have Down Syndrome, you need routines. Working at the hotel gave Mark stability."