ASPEN RANCH (a.k.a. aspen ranch school)
Background, and Survivor Statement(s)
HEAL SPECIAL REPORT:
HEAL has found
multiple problems with Aspen Ranch's enrollment
agreement including apparent unconscionable terms and/or
contradictory terms leaving us to believe that Aspen Ranch is running a money-making scam on families in need of
assistance. We will be alternating between purple
background and/or words for HEAL critiques and questions and
a light pink with red words
for the words of
Aspen Ranch (Aspen) in their
enrollment agreement (as was
downloaded from aspenranch.com on September 22nd, 2010). HEAL will not repeatedly
link to the enrollment agreement in full throughout this review,
and, we advise readers to scroll back and/or open the enrollment
agreement in a new window while reviewing our work for accuracy
or if additional contextualization is preferred. This is
an independent review and if you are in need of legal assistance
or advice, please
consult with an attorney.
"IEP if applicable"
"Please send your
payment of $18,715.00 made out to "Aspen Ranch" for the
following: a. First month's tuition of $7,982.50...b.
Transitional Service fee of $7,982.50 for 1 year service
beginning upon student's discharge...c. Enrollment fee of
$2,750.00. The enrollment fee includes initial psychiatric
evaluation, mental status exam, physical and lab work, and
initial student gear which includes clothing."
"Please send only
what is on this list... 1 Twin size comforter for twin size
bed... Sleeping Bag... Athletic Shoes..."
An "IEP" is an
Independent Education Plan. It typically refers to
children who have been placed in a program by their home school
district or board of education. Since IEPs are generally
funded by city, state, and federal funds, programs that accept
children under these plans are generally required to obey
federal laws in regards to civil rights of minors in schools
receiving such funds. HEAL makes note of this to alert
readers that in other portions of the agreement such civil
rights of minors appear to be violated by Aspen Ranch and this
would present a serious issue given Aspen Ranch appears to
receive some federal funding through IEP placements.
We have included the
above fee information to alert readers to the initial costs
involved with this program. In other portions of the
contract, the daily rate appears to be $350 per day. It is
a significant drop from the $1,000 per day of
Institute for Behavioral Assessment. But, both appear
to be providing the same or similar services.
claims they will supply your child with most of their
necessities while in the program. Aspen asks you only send
with your child the above listed items. That is the limit
on items they appear to approve upon admission. Elsewhere
in the contract, Aspen claims that families will be charged
separately for school supplies and other necessities.
Those items are not included in the tuition costs of the
program. HEAL is not reviewing page 2 of the contract
which provides the list of items Aspen Ranch provides enrolled
children. These items appear to be covered or are intended
to be covered by the enrollment fee of $2,750.00 mentioned
"I/We further authorize
the release of this information to be received via E-mail,
Internet technology, voice mail or US mail. While every
effort will be made for confidentiality, Aspen Education Group
accepts no responsibility in the mis-transmission that could
result or information becoming available to someone other than
the intended receiver."
This is the first of
many waivers of liability included in the Aspen Ranch contract.
This one is particularly concerning as it involves the
protected/private health information of children and their
families. The segment is written in a way that the waiver
is clear, but, the circumstances under which that information
may be erroneously or improperly delivered to recipients is not
clear. This is a concern.
"For the purpose
of paying all or part of monies owing to ASPEN EDUCATION GROUP
for services it has or will render to the above patient, the
undersigned hereby irrevocably assigns to ASPEN EDUCATION GROUP
any benefit payments payable for the benefit of said patient by
the above insurance company or companies and all rights and
interest in said policy but only to the extent necessary to pay
ASPEN EDUCATION GROUP in full."
agrees to remain liable to pay the full amount of all monies
billed by ASPEN EDUCATION GROUP as a result of rendering
services to the above mentioned patient and undersigned's
liability will only be reduced by the amount of benefit payments
received by ASPEN EDUCATION GROUP from the above referenced
understands that the nature of patient's disability may be such
that no benefit payments will be payable under the policy
"Any monies owing
by the undersigned under the terms of this Agreement shall be
paid in full within thirty (30) days after billing by ASPEN
EDUCATION GROUP unless other arrangements have been made.
In the event that collection efforts are undertaken by ASPEN
EDUCATION GROUP to enforce any of the terms of this Agreement,
all expenses associated therewith, including attorneys' fees,
will be paid by the undersigned."
Aspen Ranch implies it is providing clinical and/or professional
mental and/or medical health treatment by referring to enrollees
as "patients". It is important to remember that Aspen is not
licensed by the Utah Department of Health and is not a
recognized mental or medical health program. Aspen Ranch
is licensed by the Department of Human Services, Office of
Licensing, as "residential treatment." Utah defines
"residential treatment program" as "a
24-hour group living environment for four or more individuals
unrelated to the owner or provider in accordance with Subsection
Here we also see
the inference that some insurance carriers do not recognize
Aspen Ranch as a mental or medical health facility
and your child may not be covered. This means this program
will likely cost you thousands of dollars. This may be
acceptable to you, but, when you consider what you are getting
for your money, you may make a wiser decision by choosing
against Aspen Ranch.
"POWER OF ATTORNEY"
"KNOW ALL MEN BY
THESE PRESENT, that I/we _______(the parent(s)/legal guardian(s)
and hereafter known as the "Sponsor"), do hereby certify to
Aspen Education Group, which owns and operates the program known
as Aspen Achievement Academy and Aspen Ranch, that I/we are the true and lawful
attorney in-fact and legal custodian(s) for ____(hereinafter the
"Student")...We hereby execute this Power of Attorney for the
purpose of providing custodial care, educational, therapeutic
and clinical services in connection with the Aspen Achievement
Academy and/or Aspen Ranch Program (hereinafter known as the "Program")."
or qualifying the general Power of Attorney granted and
delegated by Sponsor to Aspen in the paragraph above, Sponsor
specifically grants to Aspen the following powers:"
"To provide or
obtain all medical, dental, psychiatric treatment and hospital
care, and to authorize a physician to perform any and all
procedures that may appear to be medically necessary."
"To guide and
discipline the Student as deemed necessary and reasonable by
Aspen (but not to include physical punishment)."
restrain the Student should he/she become a danger to
himself/herself or to anyone else, as deemed necessary by
"To allow the
Student to participate in all activities that may risk physical
injury or illness."
"To search the
person and personal effects of the Student at any time as Aspen
Education Group in its discretion deems appropriate, and seize
and confiscate any items deemed by Aspen to be contraband or
counterproductive to the Student's successful completion of the
Program. The search of the Student's person may require
Student to remove all of his or her clothing and may include a
"strip search" of all or any portions of Student's body,
including cavities in which contraband could be hidden."
"To restrict the
Student's access to telephone calls, visitors, and delivered
Many programs in the
industry require a limited power of attorney. And, we
remind parents that they can sign away their own rights, but,
not the rights of their minor children. This likely
includes the right to be protected against unreasonable searches
and seizures. For more information, see
www.heal-online.org/legalarguments.htm. This is for
information purposes only. If you need legal advice,
In addition, in other
areas of the contract (to be discussed below), Aspen limits all
liability for harms up to and including death and places all
risk on the side of the family. It is a concern and seems
unconscionable that a program would demand such authority over a
child while taking no responsibility for the care of that child.
What are parents really getting out of this lopsided bargain?
It is reasonable
for the program to request the power to obtain medical care in
the event it is required. There is nothing wrong with that
portion of the agreement. However, the following
statements are contradictory.
The use of
physical restraint is a form of physical punishment as is using
pressure points and other torture techniques to enforce
compliance with scheduled hikes and activities in the program.
The program will argue that they have to get the kids from one
destination to another for their own "safety" and that using
restraint and other physical abuse is necessary for the "safety"
of all the children in the program. This is not the intent
of laws preventing or limiting the use of physical restraint.
An immediate threat of imminent bodily harm created by an
individual warrants restraint. Any "threat" that involves
a slow-down in the hike or delay in reaching destinations should
be managed in a way that does not violate the rights of the
child or the intent of laws regulating the use of restraint.
In addition, Aspen does not limit the use of physical restraint to
just the event in which a child is a danger to self or others.
This is developed in discussion of later pages of the contract.
The claim that they don't use physical punishment and that they
do use restraint beyond the limits claimed in this section of
the document suggests misleading and/or deceptive practices.
It is a serious
concern that the child's contact with the outside world is
severely limited by the program. What restrictions are
placed on a child's communication with their family? Do
they have access to a phone in the event of an emergency or even
simply the need to talk to "Mom or Dad"?
court decisions have shown that censoring/monitoring a child's
mail is a violation of their rights. These are all
CONSENT TO RECEIVE PSYCHOACTIVE MEDICATIONS"
below constitutes your acknowledgment: 1) that you have read and
agree to the foregoing; 2) that the medications and treatment
set forth below have been adequately explained and/or discussed
with you by your supervising physician; and that you have
received all of the information you desire concerning such
medication and treatment; and 3) that you authorize and consent
to the administration of such medication."
"Patient/Parent/Legal Guardian (Please circle)...If signed other
than patient, indicate relationship"
This form is a concern
as it is expected to be signed prior to admission and seems to
indicate that any child in the program can be given psychoactive
medications without the child's consent, if parental consent is
given. Since the parent would not be present to witness
the effects of the drug on the child, it seems granting
permission without oversight would be in violation of the
child's rights. As consent would be given in advance of
such medications by the signing of this document, it is a
serious concern. Please see
www.heal-online.org/parent.htm for important information on
treatment options and the dangers of psychoactive medications.
You may also wish to use the HEAL search box to search for
additional articles and information on the problems associated
with psychoactive medications.
"Consent to Administer
"Aspen Ranch has
my permission to release information to any professional who is
working with my child."
"Yes, I agree to
have my child participate in psychological testing at a cost of
Later in this contract,
we discover that all psychological testing is subcontracted out
as are the "therapeutic" services and oversight. This
brings into question what the function of Aspen Ranch is since
the areas under which they claim expertise are subcontracted to
professionals outside of Aspen.
We include the above to
show the cost of the psychological testing. This cost is
in addition to the program tuition costs and fees.
"I hereby give
permission for my son/daughter to work in any agricultural/farm
occupation NOT declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor."
This is a serious
concern and raises a number of issues. Are the children
compensated for their labor? What kind of
agricultural/farm work will they be forced to do? Will
they be working on large farms or providing free labor for large
agri-business? Does the work only result in privileges?
What are these privileges? Are any of these privileges
considered necessities by law or public policy? If so,
does Aspen deny children their necessities if they do not
provide free labor? Does Aspen receive any pecuniary
benefit from the work performed by the children?
"I hereby authorize
Aspen Ranch School to call an emergency ambulance in case of an
accident or acute illness and to arrange for necessary emergency
medical or surgical care in case I am not immediately
"I also hereby
agree to accept responsibility for the cost of the above medical
Our concern here, and
this is developed further below, is that the family is held
responsible for all medical expenses even if the injury or
illness was caused by Aspen's actions or failures to act.
It is a concern that families are expected to indemnify Aspen
from its own failures.
"I understand that
requester may not further use or disclose the medical
information unless another authorization is obtained from me or
unless such use of disclosure is specifically required or
permitted by law."
authorize release of the above specified information."
Are further disclosures
permitted by law? Is Aspen Ranch a facility that is
regulated by HIPAA? HEAL doesn't believe it is and this is
because it is not licensed by the Utah Department of Health
which is charged with enforcing HIPAA. Since it is only
licensed as residential treatment, defined above, this becomes a
serious area of concern.
"I agree that
should the client be discharged from Aspen Ranch, it is my
responsibility to notify Lin's Pharmacy. If medication is
delivered after discharge and is not refused at the time of
delivery, it cannot be returned for credit and I therefore agree
to be responsible for payment of these medications. I
agree to pay Lin's Pharmacy at the time of service through a
major credit card...Upon request, Lin's Pharmacy will provide
billing information to the guarantor for insurance reimbursement
and tax purposes."
Why is it the parent's
responsibility to notify the pharmacy with which Aspen Ranch
does business that a drug ordered by Aspen Ranch for their
discharged child is no longer required? Isn't Aspen Ranch
in the best position to cancel such orders/requests? And,
what happens to the drugs that are delivered and not immediately
returned? Are they shipped to the family for continued
care or does the program keep it for its own use? If the
latter, why are parents buying drugs for Aspen Ranch?
"You have the right to
know that if a child is a danger to him/herself or others, PCS
physical restraints may be used by trained staff."
"You have the
right to appeal level changes or discipline without repercussion
"You have the
right to communicate and visit according to rules of The Ranch."
"If you feel you
have been denied any of these rights or that quality of services
has been less than standard or that discipline or level drops
were inappropriate, you have the right to present your concerns
by written notice to: Program Administrator, Aspen Ranch, P.O.
Box 369, Loa, UT 84747."
"An attempt to
resolve the difference will be made by the program administrator
and you will receive a written answer within 5 working days...If
you believe your concerns are not adequately resolved via the
Program Administrator, you have the right to appeal to the
Regional Director, Robin Stephens. If you believe your
concerns are not resolved by the Regional Director, you have the
right to appeal to the CRC Consumer Affairs office.
Contact information for any and all of these people is available
by contacting Aspen Ranch. Your child has the same rights
and a copy of these rights are contained in the student
handbook...No punitive action will be taken by the Ranch toward
anyone submitting a concern."
PCS stands for Positive
"business" in Utah. Positive Control Systems is also used
abusive/fraudulent programs. Also, later in the
review, we will expose that restraint is used in far more
circumstances than just when a child is a "danger to him/herself
or others". So, this is another concern and being
restrained certainly doesn't seem like a right, more a violation
of a right.
Does the ranch have the
right to deny parents access to their child? Does Aspen
have the right to deny the child access to the outside world
without due process of law? The information HEAL has
gathered would suggest "No" is the appropriate response to both
www.heal-online.org/legalarguments.htm. Also, limited
or barred communication with the outside world is one of many
warning signs of an abusive program. For our warning signs
list and important questions you should ask, visit
If a child
appeals a level change or disciplinary action, are they expected
to write a letter to the program administrator and wait 5 days
for a response? What if the child has been abused?
What are the complaint procedures? If a child submits a
complaint instead of a "concern" will they be punished?
Are children discouraged from filing appeals of this nature?
Have children ever successfully appealed a decision made
regarding their status? And, in the event of abuse, the 5
day wait is long enough alone to rule out a proper investigation
by authorities. This is something parents should take very
seriously given the history of Aspen Ranch and other Aspen
Education Group programs.
"I understand that
Wayne Community Health Center will not bill my insurance
directly, but send me a claim I can submit for reimbursement.
I/WE authorize the doctor to bill my credit card."
authorize the facility to treat the patient identified, in the
even that I/We are not present at time of service."
Our concern here, and
this is developed further below, is that the family is held
responsible for all medical expenses even if the injury or
illness was caused by Aspen's actions or failures to act.
It is a concern that families are expected to indemnify Aspen
from its own failures.
"Aspen Ranch Medical
"The Aspen Ranch
Medical Director and Medical Provider oversee all medications
administered at Aspen Ranch. Unfortunately, we are unable
to fill new prescriptions from family physicians after treatment
has begun. During your child's stay at the Ranch, we will
only administer medications prescribed or approved by the above
Aspen again represents
itself as a medical facility when it is not licensed as a
medical facility. This suggests deceptive marketing
practices and deception in the contract itself. It is a
serious concern. Also, by placing Aspen Ranch in control
of prescriptions, it takes the need to communicate with the
child and/or family's physician out of the picture. And,
this is another concern as that physician would likely be able
to assist in identifying anything faulty with Aspen's actions in
medicating the child.
("Agreement") is entered into by and between Aspen Ranch, a
Delaware limited liability company (hereinafter "Aspen"),
operating Aspen Ranch, a licensed residential program, which is
described in the program materials that Sponsor has received
previously and which is made a part of this Agreement by
reference (the "Program") and "Parents'' Name:_____parent(s)
and/or guardian(s) of the student (hereinafter the
that Sponsor is the legal parent(s) and/or guardian(s), having
legal custody of the following child:....(hereinafter the
"Student"), and the Sponsor desires to and does hereby contract
with Aspen for the Student's enrollment in the Program according
to the terms and conditions of this Agreement."
"If the Student
satisfies Aspen's screening criteria, Aspen shall accept the
Student and, except as otherwise provided herein, permit the
Student to complete the Program. If the Student fails to
satisfy Aspen's screening criteria, the Student will be returned
promptly to Sponsor and Aspen will also return the prepaid
tuition fee to the Sponsor, less a $750.00 evaluation/screening
fee and a deduction for all reasonable expenses incurred by
Aspen on behalf of the Student and/or the Sponsor prior to the
Student is accepted into the Program, the term of this Agreement
shall be a minimum of Nine Months...On the Arrival Date, Sponsor
shall transfer by a Power of Attorney in the form received and
executed by Sponsor, temporary custody of the Student to Aspen
for the duration of the Agreement, unless either party
terminates this Agreement prior thereto by giving written notice
to the other party pursuant to paragraph 10 herein or until the
Student attains the age of eighteen (18), unless the Student (a)
has otherwise been placed in the custody of Aspen by a court of
proper jurisdiction or (b) voluntarily consents in writing to
remain in the Program for any period of time beyond said
eighteenth (18th) birthday."
"The Student is
accepted with the expectation that the Student will complete the
entire Program. Unless otherwise set forth in Exhibit "A",
the Program fee is: Three Hundred Fifty Dollars ($350.00) per
day for the Program, including therapy."
tuition fee is subject to an annual increase effective January
1st each year. The program shall provide a 60-day notice
detailing the amount of the increase."
"Payments are due
the 1st day of the month of service. For example, October
tuition is due October 1st. Payments not received by the
10th of the month of service are subject to a $250 late fee and
may result in discharge of the student from the program."
pay the first month's co-pay and deductible at that time.
If the contracted insurance provider fails to pay within 60 days
of submission of a claim, Sponsor shall pay the amount due."
What does Aspen mean
by "residential program"? How is the "program"
described in the "program description" provided to parents?
Is it explicit to the environment and level system? In
reviewing the "Aspen Ranch Program Details" included in the
enrollment materials, it is not explicit at all regarding
what the program is and how children are treated in the program.
In fact, the program details (described later in this review)
are very limited and include some of the alleged civil rights
violations (i.e. a communications blackout period during early
portions of the program, censoring of mail, unlawful
imprisonment, etc.) in writing in those details. These are
The issues with the
Power of Attorney form were covered above. We included
much of this section to show that the total amount for the
minimum stay in the program is $94,500.00 and as some, if not
most, insurance carriers won't cover Aspen Ranch,
this is a pretty steep price to pay. This is especially so
where there is no clear purpose of the Aspen Ranch program.
University will increase tuition next school year by 3.8
percent, the school announced yesterday, bringing the annual
cost of a Harvard education, including room and board, to
$50,724." (Source: boston.com, March 19th, 2010) Think
about it, this program is charging almost double the annual cost
of Harvard University (including room and board) and doesn't
even provide advanced placement classes. The cost of
$94,500.00 is the minimum cost and does not cover the additional
psychological assessment or care fees associated with the
program. It does not cover anything but the base-price for
the minimum stay of 9 months. And, Aspen says that
children normally stay longer than 9 months. So, families
are looking at double the tuition of Harvard for one year of a
lot of nothing from Aspen Ranch. Also, Aspen Ranch
subcontracts all arguably "legitimate" therapeutic work to
third-parties and charges families extra for those "services".
So, families are paying nearly twice the annual cost of Harvard
tuition to send their children to a program in Utah which
provides at best a below standard secondary education, no
legitimate therapy, and out of the deal Aspen gets free labor
for their agricultural endeavors or those of their friends in
agri-business. It sounds like a scam and one that could
leave families psychologically and financially devastated. This
will be developed throughout this review.
mentions it accepts adjudicated youth and court-ordered youth.
This suggests that they may be receiving both state and federal
funds for those youth and this would imply that their violations
of children's rights by strip-searching them without probable
cause is a serious concern.
"If Sponsor withdraws
Student before expiration of the period of enrollment without
the recommendations of the Executive Director, forfeiture of the
$7,982.50 alumni fee will occur."
"In addition to
the Program fee, Sponsor agrees to pay for the following
expenses of the Student: transportation from the Student's
current residence to Salt Lake City, Provo, or Loa, Utah, as the
case may be, and return transportation to the Student's
residence, food and lodging expenses for any holding period
before commencement of the Program and/or after completion of
the Program; all medical, dental, hospital, and related expenses
incurred by or for the Student and all required personal items
specified in the Student Clothing List. Sponsors are also
responsible for any additional fees such as off campus activity
expences, escort fees required for transporting Student to
and/or from the Program to another location (i.e. airport,
doctor's appointment or special event). Sponsors are
responsible for the cost of any psychiatric evaluations
performed by a psychiatrist."
to accept full responsibility for (1) the repair or replacement
of any property damaged, defaced, or destroyed by the Student,
whether owned, leased, or controlled by Aspen or any third
party, and (2) any personal injury to any Aspen personnel, other
students or third parties caused, in whole or in part, by the
Student, and to promptly reimburse Aspen for any costs and
expenses, including legal fees, it may incur in connection
"In the event the
Student runs away from the Program, Aspen will make every
reasonable effort to find the Student and return the Student to
the Program or to the Sponsor. An accounting of the
expenses incurred by Aspen in finding and returning the Student
will be made to the Sponsor who agrees to accept full
responsibility for any and all such costs and expenses."
"Aspen is not
liable for any loss of or damage to any of the Student's
and consents to Aspen's subcontracting certain services to be
rendered under this Agreement to persons or entities deemed by
Aspen to be properly qualified to provide said services, at no
additional cost to Sponsor unless otherwise agreed to by both
parties. Aspen is not responsible for the services
provided by such third-party contractors and is hereby released
from any liability arising from such services. All
clinicians furnishing services to the Student, including any
psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health professionals, or
internists or the like, are independent contractors with the
client and are not employees of Aspen. The Student is
under the care and supervision of his/her attending clinician
and it is the responsibility of Student's clinician to obtain
Sponsor's informed consent, when required, for medical,
surgical, or psychiatric treatment, special diagnostic or
therapeutic procedures, or other services rendered to the
Student under the general and special instructions of the
"If the Student's
condition is such as to need the service of a special duty
nurse, it is agreed that such must be arranged by the Sponsors.
Aspen shall in no way be responsible for failure to provide the
same and is hereby released from any and all liability arising
from the fact that Student is not provided with such additional
acknowledges serious hazards and dangers, known and unknown,
inherent in the Program, including but not limited to ranch,
agricultural and vocational activities, emotional and physical
injuries, illness or death that may arise from low physical
impact and risk of physical injury, conducted in urban or
metropolitan areas with ready access to medical and other
emergency services. Museums, zoos, theaters, restaurants,
golf courses, bowling alleys, community activities and service,
arcades, shopping centers, historical sights, church attendance,
picnics, livestock shows, county fairs, correctional facilities,
schools, universities, national and state parks, spectator
sporting events, 12 step meetings, medical appointments,
softball, volleyball, basketball, high school rodeo events,
penning, roping, barrel racing, strenuous hiking, climbing,
rappelling, Questing, rock climbing, horse back riding, and
camping in a natural environment, exposure to the elements,
plants and animals, running away from the Program, "acts of God"
(nature), the ropes course, kayaking, whitewater rafting,
sail-boarding, snow skiing, swimming, fishing, mountain biking,
water sports, stress, involvement with other students,
self-inflicted injuries, and transportation to and from the
Program's field location(s). Sponsor understands that in
participating in the Programs Student will be in locations and
using facilities where many hazards exist and is aware of and
appreciates the risks which may result. Sponsor
understands that accidents occur during such activities due to
the negligence of others which may result in death or serious
injury. Sponsor and Student are voluntarily participating
in the Programs with knowledge of the dangers involved and agree
to accept any and all risks."
of being permitted to participate in the Programs, Sponsor
agrees to not sue, to assume all risks and to release, hold
harmless and indemnify Aspen and any and all of its
predecessors, successors, officers, directors, trustees,
insurers, employees, managers, agents, volunteers, community
organizations, administrators, heirs, attorneys, executors,
assigns and/or related or affiliated business entities
including, but not limited to, Aspen Achievement Academy, Aspen
Education Group and Aspen Ranch Residential Treatment Center
(collectively all of the above persons and entities shall be
referred to as the "Released Parties" hereafter) who, through
negligence, carelessness or any other cause, might otherwise be
liable to Sponsor or Student under theories of contract or tort
If you remove your
child from the program, you forfeit nearly $8000. (possibly
more--see page 20) This agreement puts families in an awkward
position and increases the risk to children by creating a
circumstance in which parents would be less likely to make the
wise choice of early termination of the agreement. The
best decision being not to enroll a child in the first place.
It is a concern
that the "therapeutic" services of the program are optional and
appear to come at an additional cost. This too is
contradicted. In the 2nd segment above, Aspen states that
Sponsor will be charged additional fees for psychiatric and
psychological testing and services. But, in the 6th
segment, Aspen says it will cover costs of those services included
in the agreement. This is confusing language and
The third segment
is reasonable, or would be reasonable, if Aspen's program did
not intentionally provoke or cause violent or extreme outbursts
by the very nature of their methods. It is reasonable
for Aspen to demand parents accept liability for their child's
actions resulting in damage to people or property. But,
only with that caveat that Aspen is providing a nurturing
environment and not provoking angry outbursts through
humiliation or physical assault of the children. Since it
has been reported that such outbursts are intentionally provoked
by Aspen staff at times, this clause may raise concern for
families. Aspen should insure against such incidents through
good business practice and proper insurance that would be
required of any licensed childcare program or facility. It
is wrong to solely place liability with the parents who are
entrusting the supervision and care of their child to the
program. And, families should require an investigation
into any incidents of this nature to insure that they are not
being stuck with a bill that is not their own or their child's.
Even though Aspen
demands full power of attorney and custody of your child, they
do not accept any responsibility in the event your child escapes
the program. Programs like Anasazi Foundation at least
assume 50% of the financial responsibility in such events.
is troublesome too and this is not an endorsement, just a
comparison of fact. Anasazi's practices in regards to such
responsibility seems more appropriate or fair given the
circumstances. And, Aspen's practices seem weighted
primarily on financial gain with no risk for Aspen and likely
nothing but debt and heartache for families.
Aspen is free to
steal from your child as a result of the clause freeing them of
liability for lost or damaged property. Theft of personal
property at programs is fairly common. Theft of personal
property at elderly-care facilities are equally as common.
It is always a good idea to keep any items of pecuniary or
sentimental value safe at home, this includes your children.
In addition, Aspen
demands control of what "independent contractors" will be
utilized and granted the fees charged for their services.
However, Aspen does not take responsibility for the care provided
by the contractors they deem "properly qualified". And,
since they are asking you trust their judgment in regards to
choosing said independent contractors, they would arguably be
liable for faults found with their judgment in the event harm or
other violations occur. But, they demand you hold them
harmless if there is a problem with the subcontractor.
And, they put full responsibility on the outside or
"subcontracted" clinician for the supervision and care of your
child which rights/responsibilities you transferred to Aspen
with the Power of Attorney, and, they likely give permission in
your stead with your permission protecting everyone else from
any liability for any and all harms done to your child while in
Aspen's program. This seems to be an unconscionable
contract with many unconscionable terms.
The above also states
that risks of emotional (i.e. psychological) and physical harm
are inherent to the program. This may be true of physical
harm given that exploring wilderness with limited
supplies and/or improper supplies for warmth/hydration/etc. is likely to
result in physical harm and is a semi-reasonable assumed risk
when adventuring in such conditions. However,
psychological and emotional harm should not be an inherent risk
and stating that it is reveals the harmful nature of the Aspen
Stating that the
child is voluntarily participating in the program is an open lie
and contradicted by the sections on running away/recapture and restraint covered
the review of pages 5 and 18; and below on page 20. Again, we remind parents that they
have the right to sign away their own rights, but, not the
rights of their minor children. This is discussed further
stated is that the parents waive their rights to pursue legal
action even in the event of serious injury or death. These
appear to be unconscionable terms given the inherent harm in
participating in the program.
"Sponsor intends by
this Waiver and Release to release, in advance, and to waive his
or her rights and discharge each and every one of the Released
Parties, from any and all claims for damages for death, personal
injury or property damage which Sponsor may have, or which may
hereafter accrue as a result of Student's participation in any
aspect of the Programs, even though that liability may arise
from negligence or carelessness on the part of the persons or
entities being released, from dangerous and defective property
or equipment owned, maintained or controlled by them or because
of their possible liability without fault. Additionally,
Sponsor covenants not to sue any of the Released Parties based
upon their breach of any duty owed to Sponsor or Student as a
result of their participation in any aspect of the Programs.
Sponsor understands and agrees that this Waiver and Release is
binding on his or her heirs, assigns and legal representatives
and that the Released parties shall be exempt from liability to
Sponsor, his or her heirs, assigns and legal representatives."
acknowledges that Sponsor, and Sponsor alone, is solely
responsible for Student's personal health and safety, and the
personal property Student brings with him or her."
full responsibility for any costs incurred for medical treatment
due to failure to procure or maintain insurance, or providing
outdated or falsified insurance information. Sponsor
understands that it is ultimately Sponsor's responsibility to
provide payment to any hospital/emergency response
technician/emergency transport company that may provide services
to Student as a result of injury/illness during the Programs."
that this Release extends to all claims of every nature and kind
whatsoever, and hereby expressly waives all rights..."
to indemnify the Released Parties from any and all actions,
causes of action, claims, demands, damages, costs (including
attorneys' fees), expenses, liabilities and charges, known or
unknown (the "Liabilities") arising out of or in connection with
claims and/or actions relating to or brought by or on behalf of
Student, including, without limitation, claims related to or
arising out of the Minor's participation in the Program."
"In the event of
any accident, injury, illness, or other medical necessity,
Sponsor hereby authorizes Aspen to: (a) provide emergency first
aid to the Student in the field and en route to any hospital or
clinic, (b) arrange for any medical, dental, psychiatric,
hospital, ambulance or other health-related care for the student
deemed necessary by Aspen's staff; and (c) authorize a
physician, dentist, or other health-care professional(s) to
perform any procedure(s) that the health-care professional(s)
deems necessary for the well-being of the Student. All
costs and expenses incurred for these services shall be the sole
responsibility of the Sponsor. Sponsor also authorizes
Aspen to arrange for a physical examination (including a drug
screen urine/blood test, at Aspen's option) and any
psychological assessments of the Student deemed necessary by
Aspen prior to the Student's beginning the Program."
handle all such protected health information (also "PHI")
pursuant to the guidelines promulgated in the Health Insurance
Portability & Accountability Act ("HIPAA") of 1996."
authorizes Aspen personnel to search the person and personal
effects of the Student at any time, including a "strip search".
In connection with such search, Aspen may, in its discretion,
require Student to remove all of his or her clothing and may
search Student's entire person, including any body cavities in
which contraband may be hidden. Aspen is further
authorized to confiscate any and all items deemed by Aspen to be
contraband or counterproductive to the Student's successful
completion of the Program. The disposition of all items
confiscated by Aspen shall be left to the sole discretion of
authorizes Aspen personnel to physically restrain, control and
detain the Student by the exercise of necessary restraints when
deemed necessary by Aspen, for purposes including, but not
limited to escorting the Student to and from the Program's
location, returning the Student to the Program if the Student
runs away, or preventing the Student from jeopardizing the
Student's own safety or the safety of others."
authorizes Aspen to use data from the Student's records, tests,
and assessments for purposes of ongoing research, provided that
the Student's name and identity will be kept confidential and
not used in any published materials."
HEAL thinks it is
important for families to understand the indemnity clauses
placing them in the position to take full responsibility in the
event of serious injury or death of their child in the program.
Many families have lost their children in programs similar to
Aspen Ranch and some of these deaths occurred in Aspen programs.
At least two children died at Aspen's SageWalk program in Oregon
before it "voluntarily" suspended operations as the death(s) are
investigated by authorities. These risks are very real and
parents should think if the worst happens and Aspen's methods are
responsible, how they will feel with nowhere to turn for
justice. Be careful and always seriously consider what you
are agreeing to in signing any contract. Again, this is
not legal advice. If you would like legal help, please
Also, parents should
understand that in the third segment quoted above they are
giving Aspen permission to seek and obtain psychiatric, mental
health treatment, and medical treatment for the child and at the
sole discretion of Aspen. In signing the Power of Attorney
and the agreement, the parents are giving Aspen the right to
seek and obtain such treatment. The clinician and/or other
mental health professionals will be contracting with Aspen on
behalf of your child and will likely report solely to Aspen in
regards to the care of your child. Aspen's control and
ability to deny you access to the records of such services is an
additional concern. In the likely event your child is
harmed, how will you begin to determine who should be held
accountable? Who can be held accountable when the waiver
extends to "volunteers" and "community organizations" with which
Aspen contracts? Please consider these issues seriously.
Aspen Ranch is
not licensed by the Department of Health in Utah. The Utah
Department of Health is charged with enforcing HIPAA. That
enforcement applies to services licensed by the Department of
Health. By implying that Aspen Ranch is governed by HIPAA,
Aspen Ranch appears to be misleading consumers.
probable cause is a violation of the civil rights of the child.
Assuming every child, with or without a history of drug use, is
in need of a strip-search is unreasonable. Searching
children at "any time" suggests such searches are used as a form
of humiliation as opposed to being done for any legitimate
purpose. And, this is a serious concern.
to detain and control the child while in the program also shows
that the program is not "voluntary" for the child and that the
child is forced to participate in the program through physical
force. Congress is working on legislation (HR 4247, the
"Keeping All Students Safe Act of 2010") to stop these misuses
of restraint in programs and schools that often result in
serious injury and death.
references the use of your child and/or your child's data in
"ongoing research". What is this research and will you be
made privy to all studies in which your or your child's private
information will be used? If not, why not? Informed
consent to participate in any research includes knowing the
purpose of the research and the projected risks involved in
participating. This again suggests possible violations of
the Nuremberg Code (International Human Rights Laws).
(Pages 19 & 20)
"In the event of any
such termination by Aspen after the Student has been accepted
into the Program, neither Sponsor nor Student's insurer shall be
entitled to a refund of any part of the Program fee or tuition."
"In the event
Sponsor or any authorized third party, after he Student's
arrival date, withdraws the Student for any reason prior to the
end of the Program, or if the Student decides to leave the
Program after the Student's eighteenth birthday, neither Sponsor
nor Student's insurer shall be entitled to a refund of any part
of the Program fee or tuition."
entitlement to and retention of the entire Program fee payable
under this Agreement in the event of an early termination or
withdrawal is not considered by either of the Parties to be a
penalty for early withdrawal of the Student."
to attend the seminar for parents and guardians of the students
conducted by Aspen during the Program, and to give Sponsor's
full cooperation to Aspen personnel throughout the Program, in
order to maximize the benefits of the Program for the Student
and the Sponsor."
that the Student is a minor, both by age and as a matter of law,
that the Student does not qualify under the law as an
"emancipated minor," and that the laws of the Student's state of
residence permit Sponsor to place the Student in the Program
without the Student's consent."
or claim arising out of or relating to this contract, except at
Aspen's option the collection of monies owed by Sponsor to
Aspen, shall be settled by binding arbitration conducted in the
State of Utah in accordance with the rules of the American
Arbitration Association. Judgment upon the award rendered
by the arbitrator(s) may be entered in any court of competent
jurisdiction for purposes of executing upon the award."
Sponsor agrees to compensate Aspen for all reasonable attorneys'
fees and costs incurred by Aspen in connection with those
matters concerning which Sponsor has agreed to pay or indemnify
And, of course,
if for some reason Aspen terminates the agreement and/or you decide it was a bad decision (with which
HEAL would heartily agree) to place your child in Aspen and remove
him/her from the program, you lose all the money you paid to
Aspen. Now, if Aspen isn't, which they don't appear to be,
open about the "environment" they create for the children which
reportedly includes both physical abuse and humiliating verbal
attacks, then you should be due a refund. The comparison
between the claims made in promotional materials and the "agreed
to terms" of the contract may mean the difference between
proving fraudulent inducement (i.e. misleading advertising
and/or oral assurances of the programs safety/success rate) and
assumption of risk (i.e. the terms of the enrollment agreement).
If you pulled your child from the program and believe you are
due a refund, you should
consult an attorney.
In addition, it is a concern that you would forfeit or be forced
to pay the minimum enrollment fee of over $90,000.00 as a
"liquidated damages" clause. This seems outrageously steep
HEAL recommends that
parents ask what Aspen means by "full cooperation". If you
witness abuse and try to prevent said abuse in opposition to the
protocol of Aspen's program, will you be in violation of the "full
cooperation" clause? This is likely how Aspen sees it.
And, anyone who demands full cooperation and/or unquestioned
authority over others is not acting in the best interest of that
individual or family.
In the fifth segment above,
Aspen again reiterates how the program is not voluntary for the
child. So, this directly contradicts page 18 that states
the child has "voluntarily" agreed to participate in the
program. This is clearly not the case.
Also, here it
appears that Aspen will allow disputes to be settled in Utah.
This differs from other Aspen contracts. And, the sixth
segment above is contradicted by page 21 of the contract which
requires disputes to be resolved in Los Angeles, California.
This contradiction will be explored below. Since Aspen chooses to conduct business in and
enroll children from other states, including Utah, they should
be able to be sued from the home-state of their dissatisfied
clients. If they do not wish to assume the risk of
litigation outside of the state(s) of their choice, then they
shouldn't accept children from other states.
The seventh segment
above seems more a tool of intimidation to frighten you from
pursuing legal action by having you agree to pay for Aspen's
attorneys' fees regardless of the legitimacy of your claims.
This seems unconscionable.
"This Agreement and all
matters relating hereto, including any matter or dispute arising
between the parties out of this Agreement, tort or otherwise,
shall be interpreted, governed, and enforced according to the
laws of the State of California; and the Parties consent and
submit to the exclusive jurisdiction and venue of the California
Courts in Los Angeles County, California, and any qualified
(American Arbitration Association-approved) arbitration service
in the State of California, County of Los Angeles, to enforce
this Agreement. The parties acknowledge that this
agreement constitutes a business transaction within the State of
acknowledges that Sponsor has read this Agreement and that
Sponsor understands and consents to all of its provisions; that
this Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the
parties hereto with respect to the subject matter hereof; and
that all other prior agreements, promises, expectations and
conditions, oral or written, between the parties are
incorporated herein. Other than the express commitments
set forth in this Agreement and the Program description, Aspen
gives no warranties of any kind, express or implied, to either
the Sponsor or the Student concerning the Program, and Sponsor
acknowledges that Sponsor is not relying on any warranties or
representations of any kind other than the express commitments
of Aspen set forth herein."
authorize the release of the Student's information via E-mail,
Internet technology, voice mail or US mail. While every
effort will be made to maintain confidentiality, Aspen accepts
no responsibility for the mistransmission that could result in
information becoming available to someone other than the
HEAL points out that
the above statements regarding the settling of disputes in Utah
is contradicted here on page 21. All disputes are to be
resolved in California according to this page of the Agreement.
Throughout this contract we have seen numerous contradictory and
unconscionable terms. This appears to be an illusory
contract offering absolutely no legitimate service to families
while charging extraordinary fees to those families. The
families take all the risks, absolve Aspen of its own
wrongdoing, and Aspen reaps all the rewards. This appears
to be nothing more than a scam on families in crisis or whom
have been convinced by Aspen and/or its co-conspirators (i.e.
educational consultants) that it is necessary.
We included the second
segment above to highlight that the contract is the entire
agreement. Aspen has agreed to do nothing but keep a child
confined until their eighteenth birthday or until the program
decides they are ready to "graduate" the program. Aspen
guarantees nothing and offers no warranties or other
consideration for the extraordinary fees they charge. It
is truly outrageous.
Also, we again
see that Aspen will not be liable for your private/protected
health information being disclosed to unintended parties.
This again suggests that they are not regulated by HIPAA as
Aspen suggests in other areas of the contract. This
suggests deceptive practices.
nonrefundable payment upon admission, as described in Section 2
and 4B of the Enrollment Agreement, is $2,750.00."
personal financial obligation for the Ranch Program, which also
reflects a discount on the actual tuition, will be $7,982.50
month, months including therapy services. The Transitional
Services fee is $7,982.50 for one year service. A deposit
of $18,715.00 (1st month tuition and one year transitional
service) is due upon admission...Sponsor will provide a credit
card, which will be charged on the 1st day of each month."
On this page of the
enrollment agreement, the $2,750.00 is nonrefundable.
However, in previous segments of the contract $750.00 of the fee
is refundable. These are contradictory terms.
Even if the
discounted rate applies for the entirety of the contract, the
total for the minimum 9-month stay is $71,842.50. This
does not included the additional costs of legitimate psychiatric
and/or psychological assessment subcontracted out by Aspen.
And, it is still more expensive than one year of tuition
(including room and board) at Harvard University in 2010.
This is nothing more than a rip-off that hurts families both
psychologically and financially.
"It is an agreement
between the 50 states that, should your child ever be in need of
government services, the receiving state (Utah) is agreeing to
provide care and supervision while your home state agrees to
bear the cost."
HEAL believes that Aspen
Ranch may qualify as a
Residential Treatment Center according to
laws defining "Residential Treatment Center". Here is
how the law defines "Residential Treatment Center" in relation
to Interstate Compact Placement Request forms:
a group care facility which provides a specific treatment
program outside the realm of a medical hospital, psychiatric
hospital or institution for the mentally retarded or mentally
ill; e.g., a residential program for the treatment of
alcohol/drug abuse. The receiving state is not obligated to
supervise this type of placement made by the sending state."
(Taken from ocfs.state.ny.us on September 20th, 2010)
So, based on the above, this contradicts the statements
made by Aspen Ranch that Utah will supervise and
agrees to provide such supervision by receiving/recording the ICPC form. This is a blatantly false statement as Utah has
made no such agreement and/or no such agreement could reasonably
be implied given that the above statement that "The receiving
state is not obligated to supervise this type of placement"
openly contradicts the statement made by Aspen that "the receiving
state (Utah) is agreeing to provide care and supervision."
Misleading statements, deception, and more await those looking
to do business with Aspen Ranch.
HEAL sincerely and heartily suggests you do not place your
child in Aspen Ranch and rescue them if they are
(Pages 27 & 28)
"Aspen Ranch Program
"In order to
maintain a safe environment for students and staff, we will
conduct a thorough intake which includes a strip search and
search of all belongings upon admission and upon return of all
off-campus visits with parents."
"Your child will
be provided most of the items he or she will need at Aspen
members can write letters later in the child's treatment as he
or she moves through the level system. Students can only
receive letters from friends in the final stages of treatment
and only with parental approval."
first eight weeks in the program are a time of orientation and
emotional adjustment for the student and family. Our
experience has indicated that it is more productive when family
and student have made this adjustment separately.
Therefore, parent visits can be set up with the therapist after
the eighth week in treatment."
"The student will
be present for at least one family session via teleconference
each month after the blackout period."
"The minimum time
that a student can complete the program is nine months.
For most students, completion of the program will take longer
than nine months."
"A minimum of (2)
parent education workshops and Family Enrichment is required."
"We retain the
services of a psychiatrist who visits the Ranch once a
month...We also retain the services of an Family Nurse
Practitioner who visits the Ranch once a week."
attain Rider or Wrangler are eligible for off campus trips that
may include hikes, visits to National Parks, snowboarding, river
rafting and trail rides. These are privileges that
students must earn. Typically, students are not able to
earn this level and these privileges until they've been in
treatment for at least 6 months."
"Aspen Ranch is a
Residential Treatment Center...For a child to be successful in
all aspects of the program, the parent's attitude needs to
embrace all aspects of the program."
"Aspen Ranch is
accredited through the Northwest Association of Accredited
Schools...Aspen Ranch offers a college preparatory track, but
does not offer Advanced Placement options...Students may take a
foreign language through a correspondence course available
through Brigham Young University. Parents are responsible
for the extra fee that this incurs."
understand that academic progress waxes and wanes relative to
complete the program in order to receive transitional services.
If you elect to terminate your child's care prior to his/her
completion of the program, you forfeit the $7,982.50 pre-paid
fee for transitional services."
covers room and board, supervision, therapeutic care and
academics. In addition, parents will pay for miscellaneous
expenses including: escort fees, clothing & hygiene products,
minor school supplies, birthday cakes, activities and SAT/ACT
HEAL has amply covered
the issues regarding the strip searches conducted by Aspen.
We include it again above as a reminder that body cavity
searches are included and conducted on all children in the
program regardless of the child's needs or history. This
is a serious concern and an apparent violation of the child's
What necessities are
not provided by Aspen? Why are children deprived of any
item they need while being under the control of Aspen?
Deprivation of needs would suggest blatant child neglect.
Neglect is a serious child abuse issue. These and other
abuses are described in detail on HEAL's Teen Rights' page at
It is one of
HEAL's primary warning signs of an abusive program that they
deny or severely limit contact with the outside world.
Denying children the right to speak with parents by phone, and
vice versa, during the first few months of "treatment" is a sign
of an abusive program. See
www.heal-online.org/warn.htm for more warning signs and
questions you should ask any program you consider.
How long is the
blackout period? Does it ever last more than two months?
What is the longest period a child has been denied contact with
the outside world (including parents) while in the program?
What is the
average length of stay in the program? How many years of
"Harvard tuition" will be sucked up by Aspen's scam? How
many vacations or homes will be forfeited as a result of the
extraordinary costs of this program?
Are the seminars
included in the cost of the program? Are the seminars and
other parenting materials to be purchased separately by the
For what purpose
does Aspen retain the services of a psychiatrist? Why does
the psychiatrist only visit once per month? Is the
psychiatrist's sole purpose to prescribe psychoactive drugs to
children? Is the sole purpose or primary purpose of the
nurse's weekly visit to monitor the effects of psychoactive
drugs on children? Are any legitimate professional
therapies provided by Aspen? They do not appear to be.
Are children held
within the confines of Aspen Ranch on location for 6-months or
more without any interaction with the outside world? If
so, this seems like a blatant violation of the child's civil
www.heal-online.org/legalarguments.htm for more information.
Again, we have
Aspen demanding parents support the program without question.
This is a serious concern as many reported practices of Aspen
appear to violate the rights of children. These include
practices that may be considered child abuse by authorities.
This is a serious concern.
on issues with accreditation agencies, see
www.heal-online.org/accreditation.htm. It is HEAL's
understanding that the NAAS allows self-evaluations as the
primary basis for accreditation. This is in no way
effective oversight. Also, a foreign language taught by
correspondence course is not going to benefit the child in
understanding the language or culture of the language's origin.
This is a serious concern. Also, since most colleges
require foreign language as a pre-requisite for acceptance, this
may hamper a child's future. Why does Aspen charge extra
for providing a lame correspondence course? Greed?!
denied access to an educational curriculum/academic services at
any point of the program? What does Aspen mean by "academic
progress waxes and wanes relative to therapeutic progress"?
In many programs, the right to an education is deprived during
certain phases of the program. This is a serious concern.
What does Aspen mean by "therapeutic"?
Why are parents
expected to pay for minor school supplies, activities, and
academic testing? Shouldn't these costs be included in the
steep tuition cost (more expensive than Harvard University)?
notice that the program description does not describe the
program, the level system used, the definitions imposed by the
program in regards to privileges/disciplinary actions/etc., or
any detail that would suggest the program is providing a
legitimate service. Since this is the only description
included of the program, the overall contract appears to be
illusory, void/voidable, unenforceable, and amounting to nothing
more than a scam that defrauds families and injures children,
emotionally, psychologically, and/or physically. Aspen
Education Group should be immediately shut down by regulators
and/or the Department of Justice and penalties should be imposed
and victims should be provided with refunds and/or compensation
for any and all injuries.
Agreement (Pages 29 & 30)
"Under the Health
Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 ("HIPAA"),
Aspen Education Group and its affiliated entities (collectively,
"Aspen") must take steps to protect the privacy of your
"protected health information" (referred to in this Notice as
"PHI" or "health information")."
"In addition, these
entities, sites, and locations may share health information with
each other for treatment, payment, or health care operations
purposes as described in this notice."
OF ASPEN EDUCATION GROUP AND ITS AFFILIATED ENTITIES"
"Make sure that
health information that identifies you is kept private (with
"Follow the terms
of this Notice that are currently in effect"
"We may use or
disclose your protected health information without your
authorization as follows in relation to health care operations:
--To administer and support our business activities or those of
other health care organizations (as allowed by law) including
providers and plans."
"We may use or disclose
your protected health information without your authorization as
follows in relation to health care operations: --To other
individuals (such as consultants and attorneys) and
organizations that help us with our business activities. (Note:
If we share your health information with other organizations for
this purpose, they must agree to protect your privacy.)"
"We may use or
disclose your protected health information without your
authorization for legal and/or governmental purposes in the
following circumstances: --Military activity and national
security--To the military (if you are a member of the armed
forces), and to authorized federal officials for national
security and intelligence purposes..."
"We may also use
or disclose your protected health information without your
authorization in the following miscellaneous circumstances:
--Facility directory information-Unless you object, we ma use
and disclose your name, the location at which you are receiving
care, your general condition (e.g. fair, stable, etc.), and your
religious affiliation in our facility directory...-Research-For
research purposes provided that certain steps are taken to
protect your privacy. For example, a research project may
involve comparing the health and recovery or all patients who
receive one medication to those who received another, for the
DISCLOSURES OF YOUR PROTECTION HEALTH INFORMATION BY ASPEN THAT
REQUIRE US TO OBTAIN YOUR AUTHORIZATION...Except in the
situations listed in the sections above, we will use and
disclose your health information only with your written
The above goes into
additional information regarding to whom or with whom Aspen can
disclose or discuss your private mental and medical health
information without your authorization. It is important to
notice that the terms apply "that are currently in effect".
This language implies that there may be terms not in effect.
For instance, as stated above, the implication that Aspen is HIPAA
compliant means nothing since HIPAA laws generally do not apply
to entities that are not licensed medical or mental health
facilities/services. So, the HIPAA compliancy would not be
provable and would arguably not be "in effect". It seems a
shifty way to suggest confidentiality while avoiding disclosing
that Aspen is not licensed to provide mental health or medical
services in Utah.
The sixth segment above begs
some questions be asked of Aspen: "What do you mean by "support our
business activities"? Does Aspen use client information in
studies that result in financial benefit to Aspen Ranch or Aspen
Education Group? If my child is included in a research
study conducted by Aspen, will we or our child be compensated and
informed as to the dangers of participation in such a study?
segment, can families expect the same treatment of their privacy
from other organizations with whom Aspen shares information as
Aspen treats said privacy? Meaning, if enough independent
organizations signed confidentiality or privacy agreements,
could your private information end up in the hands of someone
you would not wish to have that information? (i.e. an employer)
The eighth paragraph
is a concern as many of the practices (i.e. forcing children to
"wipe" with frozen snow/ice packs in freezing cold conditions
as occurred at
Adirondack Leadership Expeditions, another Aspen program)
may be considered a form of torture. Does Aspen run "intense
interrogation" tactics in order to research "effective"
practices for dealing with POWs? Is this a possible and/or
probable explanation for this clause? Generally, schools
and other institutions do not need to disclose information to
the military or national security and if truly needed, would not
need to be disclosed in a contract. This is what leads us
to believe that the research at Aspen programs may be something
highly unethical and unsuitable for children.
Is it appropriate
to include so much personal information about participants in a
facility directory? And, is it appropriate to do so
without the consent of participants?
HEAL did not
include every instance in which Aspen claims it can and/or will
disclose your protected health information (PHI) without your
consent. See the
enrollment agreement in full for more information.
recommends you do not place your child in Aspen Ranch and that
you rescue your child if he/she is there now.
Background, and Survivor Statement(s)