WPRI-TV reports the department's Civil Rights Division sent a letter to Rhode Island's capital outlining violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act at the Harold H. Birch Vocational School.
The department found disabled students were paid little or nothing while working long hours in a "sheltered workshop" bagging, labeling, collating and assembling jewelry under contracts between the school and private businesses. It also found students were funneled into a similar segregated program after leaving Birch.
Mayor Angel Taveras says the city shut down the program and is entering into a settlement agreement with the Justice Department. He says he's also talking with public safety officials about a criminal investigation.