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boulder creek academy

bonners ferry, id

 

  Also See: Staff List and Background Information

 

HEAL SPECIAL REPORT:

boulder creek academy

 application REVIEW

HEAL has found serious reasons for concern with Boulder Creek Academy's (BCA/BCA's) application.  These include contradictory terms, and, when included with the history of the program and its staff, leave us to believe that Boulder Creek Academy 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 Boulder Creek Academy in their Application (as was downloaded from bouldercreekacademy.net on September 27th, 2010).  HEAL will not repeatedly link to the application in full throughout this review, and, we advise readers to scroll back and/or open the application 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.  (This review includes a review of the application, and fee structure.)
Application (Pages 4-6)

"I/we hereby authorize IES..." (p. 4)

"I/we hereby authorize the above professional(s) to release information regarding the above named student to IES and authorize IES to release information regarding the student to the professionals indicated above." (p. 5)

"I/we hereby authorize the above professional(s) to release information regarding the above named student to IES and authorize IES to release information regarding the student to the professionals indicated above." (p. 6)

What is IES?  Boulder Creek Academy is a CEDU program now owned by Universal Health Services, Inc. (UHS).  There is no explanation regarding what IES is or how it is being used by the program.  This is a concern because transferring confidential information to an unknown entity by contract may put that information in jeopardy.
Application (Pages 7-10)

"Referral Information"

"If you were referred by a specific person, please provide the name of the person who referred you and their relationship to you or your child, e.g. educational consultant, therapist, school counselor, friend of family, IES parent, etc."

"Describe the student's current behavior at home, your explanation for this behavior (your opinion), and how long this behavior has persisted." (p. 7)

"Describe the student's willingness to accept responsibility."

"Describe your goals for the student."

"Drug and/or alcohol use?  Yes___ No____ (If yes, please describe type, if known, and frequency: experimental, moderate, or heavy)"

"Sexual activity?"

"Physical/sexual abuse? Yes___ No____ (If yes, was there a witness to the abuse?)"

"Does the student have an individualized education plan (IEP)?... (If yes, please include the most recent IEP with this application.)"

"Please list any additional comments regarding the student's behavior."

HEAL believes the program requests information on the referral source for the purpose of compensating the referrer.  This is a common practice in the industry and many who claim they do not receive "kickbacks", actually do.  This has included supposed non-profits such as PURE and judges in the juvenile court system.  Such practices raise serious ethical concerns and concerns regarding the appropriateness of placement in programs that offer such compensation.

This questionnaire focuses on the behavior of the child and suggests that BCA is nothing more than a behavior modification program.  For information on the problems, ethical concerns, and human rights issues raised by the practices of behavior modification programs, see www.heal-online.org/ebook.pdf

It may be more helpful to examine the parents' ability to accept responsibility.  Programs like BCA encourage the scapegoating of family problems by attributing those problems to the child, the one in the least culpable position when family issues arise.  Parents may find our parenting guide with alternative resources helpful.  Please see www.heal-online.org/parent.htm for more information.

When young adults are beginning to explore options for their future, they need breathing room.  It is a time when the young person is deciding on what goals they have and it is no longer appropriate for parents to impose their own goals on to their teenage children at this stage in development.  These questions are geared toward establishing a basis for behavior modification and does not suggest an accepted "therapeutic" environment.

In searching for licensing of Boulder Creek Academy in Idaho, HEAL was unable to find any evidence that BCA is licensed as a mental health care provider.  It appears BCA is not licensed to provide mental health services in Idaho.  BCA is also not licensed as a residential care provider in Idaho Nor is BCA licensed as a provider of services to those with developmental disabilities in the State of Idaho.  If they are licensed, as BCA claims, as a "child care" facility (bouldercreekacademy.net, September 27th, 2010), then that would apply to "daycares" only and not residential treatment.  This suggests that BCA is not properly licensed to provide the services they claim to provide and this is a serious concern.  Please see our warning signs list and questions you should ask before placing any child in an unlicensed facility.  For issues with NAAS standards, see www.heal-online.org/accreditation.htm Boulder Creek Academy is not approved by the State of Idaho to provide drug treatment or drug rehabilitation services.  These are all serious concerns.

Please see www.heal-online.org/teenrights.htm to insure that your child is not of legal age for sexual activity.  if your child is of legal age for sexual activity, it is not appropriate for you to institutionalize them for exercising their lawful rights.  Teenagers have more legal rights and more legal responsibilities than younger children and parents would do well to keep this in mind before violating those rights and subjecting themselves to possible legal action, (i.e. David Taylor v. Provo Canyon School, et al). 

HEAL is concerned regarding the questioning of whether a child's reported abuse was witnessed by someone other than the victim.  Given the nature of programs like BCA, and the fact that they tend to assume all children in the program are "liars and manipulators", this is a serious concern.  Provo Canyon School, another UHS, Inc. program, states a number of things in general to be expected from all children in the program, yet, they claim to accept children with a range of issues, many of which do not include tendencies of deception or manipulation (i.e. depression, low self-esteem, abuse victims, etc.). 

It is a concern that BCA accepts children through Independent Education Plans.  This suggests state and/or federal funding of such placements and, as discussed below, is a serious concern as civil rights violations appear to occur which would be a problem for any program receiving public funds.

This segment ends with more questions regarding the child's behavior.  It is quite clear that BCA is a behavior modification program, and this is a serious concern.  The methods used to force behavior change by placing a victim involuntarily under the complete control of people or institutions that see them only as a "broken toy" in need of "fixing" and not a complex human being in need of legitimate assistance, respect, and considerate care.

Application (Page 11)

"Probation Information"

"Probation officer's name"

"I/We hereby authorize the above probation officer to release information regarding the above named student to IES and authorize IES to release information regarding the student to the probation officer indicated above."

It is a concern that BCA accepts adjudicated youth and places them in a general population with children in need of a less restrictive environment and/or who may be having their civil rights/due process rights violated by being placed in the facility.  HEAL is still unclear on what "IES" means in relations to this application.  At no point in the application is "IES" explained beyond stating it is an inclusive header covering Ascent (reportedly closed), Northwest Academy, and Boulder Creek Academy.  All three of these are CEDU-related programs.

Application (Page 12)

"For purposes of these consents and releases, the term "IES" shall include ASCENT, Boulder Creek Academy, and Northwest Academy."

"I/we hereby grant permission to release school transcripts to IES for the Student.  Permission is granted to release the following records: official transcript of credit, withdrawal grades including incomplete classes, special education records, IEPs, test data, health records, disciplinary records, counseling information and records pertaining to psychiatric or psychological evaluations.  I/we also grant permission for IES to facilitate ISAT (Idaho Scholastic Achievement Test) testing required by the state of Idaho."

Boulder Creek Academy is not accredited by the Idaho Department of Education as an "alternative school".  BCA is not accredited as a "charter school".  BCA appears to lack any accreditation or oversight by the State of Idaho.  This is a serious concern.  Parents should check to insure that any credits "earned" at BCA are transferable to legitimate educational institutions (i.e. public schools, colleges, etc.).  BCA is not licensed as a "school" in Idaho.

Application (Page 13)

""IES retains a child and adolescent psychiatrist who is responsible to attend to students who are enrolled at Boulder Creek Academy for Medication Management.  Student sessions with the Psychiatrist will be billed out to parent/or guardian in addition to monthly tuition."

"I/We hereby authorize the release of any medical information regarding the Student to IES and authorize IES to release information regarding his/her prior medical history to medical providers as deemed necessary to facilitate Student's medical care."

"A physical exam of the Student must have been completed within thirty (30) days prior to admission.  If a physical exam has not been completed, I/we hereby consent to IES to arrange for a physical exam of the Student by a licensed medical provider selected by the school.  Annual physical exams are required thereafter.  I/We will be responsible for all costs related to the initial physical exam and the required lab tests or immunizations, if not performed prior to admission, and for the costs related to annual physical exams."

"I/We hereby authorize IES to purchase all prescription medications needed by the Student through a local preferred provider and I/we assume the financial responsibility for the cost of such prescriptions."

"I hereby authorize and consent to any medical or surgical diagnosis and/or treatment for the Student as directed by any licensed medical provider authorized to practice medicine in the state wherein such services are provided.  Such treatment may include, but not be limited to: physical examination, x-rays, laboratory analysis, scans, inoculations, vaccinations, anesthesia, emergency surgery or hospitalization."

"I hereby authorize and consent to mental health care provided to the Student by, or under the supervision of, licensed mental health providers employed by IES.  The cost of the IES mental health care is included in the cost of the school/program...If mental health care is required that cannot be provided by IES employees, it will be provided to the Student at the parent's expense by mental health care professionals licensed to provide mental health services in the state wherein such services are provided."

It is a serious concern that the seemingly sole purpose of the psychiatrist is to manage medication.  Psychoactive medications are extremely dangerous and it is unethical for untrained parties to use a psychiatrist to get mind-altering drugs for children without proper oversight or regulation.  Since, as stated and proved above, BCA is not licensed to provide mental health or medical health care, it is a serious concern.  Parents may want to take note that any legitimate "therapy" with a psychiatrist or other mental health professional "chosen" by BCA comes at an extra charge and is not part of the "services" covered by the very steep $6,900 monthly "tuition" fees. 

Parents may also wish to consider the fact that "tuition" for this unlicensed "school" is higher than the tuition costs (including room and board) for Harvard University.  "Harvard 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)  Now, if the $6,900 is applied to at least 12 months of "treatment", which is implied by the fee schedule, it puts the total cost of this unlicensed "school" at $82,800.00 for one year.  It is severely more costly than a year at Harvard.  And, this is with the addendum that BCA is not licensed to provide mental health, medical care, or educational services in the state of Idaho.  What are parents paying for?  What is BCA giving you for your money?  Reports suggest families are getting nothing but scammed while their kids lives are destroyed.  This is unacceptable. 

Application (Page 14)

"In the event that a temporary transfer of the Student is deemed necessary by IES for either physical, emotional, or mental health reasons, I/we hereby authorize IES to transfer the Student to an appropriate interim care facility, licensed medical facility or mental health facility for a period not to exceed three (3) days and agree to accept the financial responsibility for the cost of such temporary services."

"I/We hereby give authority and consent to IES personnel to utilize reasonable force to restrain, control and detain the Student only when there is an imminent risk of the Student harming himself or others including IES personnel or is causing serious property damage."

"I/We hereby give consent to authorize IES to search the Student and the Student's personal effects.  IES is hereby authorized to confiscate any and all items deemed by IES to be contraband."

"I/We hereby authorize IES, at its sole discretion, to place the Student on a public carrier (i.e. airplane, train, bus, etc.) or a private or corporate vehicle for the purpose of transporting him/her to and from IES and to or from IES programs or activities on either public or private lands.  I/We hereby release and discharge IES and its officers, directors, shareholders, employees and agents from any and all claims, demands, actions, suits or proceedings which the Student or any parent, relative, or next of kin of the Student, may have for any and all injuries, damages and expenses, including, but not limited to, all personal injuries and illnesses and all damages to personal and real property, caused by, arising out of, or otherwise related to the transportation of the Student, except to the extent such injury or damage results from the gross negligence or willful misconduct of IES or its authorized agents."

"IES schools/programs include academics, emotional growth training, clinical services, general athletic activities, vocational training, a farm program, and numerous activities held both on and off campus including but not limited to: downhill skiing, cross country skiing, camping, rock climbing, canoeing, kayaking, rafting, horseback riding, bicycling, swimming, Alpine Tower, high ropes course, hiking and snowshoeing.  I/We hereby consent to the Student's participation in all activities and programs conducted by IES.  I/We hereby voluntarily release and discharge IES and its officers, directors, shareholders, employees and agents from any and all claims, demands, actions, suits or proceedings which the Student or any parent, relative, or next of kin of the Student, may have for any and all injuries, damages and expenses, including, but not limited to, all personal injuries and illnesses and all damages to personal and real property, caused by, arising out of, or otherwise related to the Student's participation in any activity or program conducted by or on behalf of IES, except to the extent such injury or damage results from the gross negligence or willful misconduct of IES or its authorized agents."

"I/We do___ do not  ___ grant permission to IES to use the Student's photograph and/or written work and/or voice in company newsletters, newspapers, brochures, videos, web site or other related promotional materials."

"I/We hereby authorize and consent to the release and exchange of all documents and verbal information between IES entities and Ascent regarding the Student."

Why would parents trust an unlicensed and unregulated program to commit their children to a psychiatric hospital?  It is likely that BCA is not qualified and BCA is definitely not licensed to provide mental health services or evaluations.  This is a serious concern.

HEAL is concerned that the use of restraint to "detain and control" a child in the program may be inappropriate.  In addition, it is not clear what BCA means by "imminent risk".  What does BCA mean by "imminent risk"?  A risk and an actual clear and present danger of serious bodily harm to self or others are different ideas and this manipulation of language suggests that BCA misuses restraint in the program.  Congress is working on legislation (HR 4247) to stop the misuse of restraint in schools and programs like BCA.  This legislation is inspired by a number of serious injuries and deaths resulting from abusive restraint procedures implemented in programs similar and/or related by business ownership to BCA (i.e. CHAD Youth Enhancement Center--Two Strangling/Choking Deaths Due to Improper Restraint Employed by UHS Staff). 

It is a serious concern that BCA performs strip searches on students in the program.  Such strip searches are a violation of the child's rights.  HEAL also reminds parents that parents have the right to waive their own rights, but, not the rights of their minor children.  See www.heal-online.org/legalarguments.htm for more information.  Again, this is not legal advice.  If you need legal help, consult an attorney.

It is a concern that if BCA staff or agents are found culpable in a vehicular accident that they still demand parents and other passengers assume responsibility for any resulting injuries.  This seems to be an unconscionable term.

What is "emotional growth" training?  Are the methods known to be ineffective and harmful?  Is the "emotional growth" training similar to or untilizing a "Positive Peer Culture/Pressure" or "Therapeutic Community" model?  If so, then it has been shown to be ineffective and harmful to participants.  This is a serious concern.

How long do children generally have to be in the program before they "earn" the "privilege" of any recreational activities?  BCA admits to using a level system in other area(s) of the contract.  This is a serious concern.  Please see the warning signs list for additional information.  Similar programs claim that recreational activities are typically not "earned" until 6-months into the program.  Will your child be held incommunicado and without access to the outside world by unlicensed and unqualified program staff for six months or more?  If so, this sounds like torture, not therapy.

Again, we reiterate that parents do not have the right to sign away the rights of their child, this includes the right to privacy.  BCA also shouldn't be using families or children's photos to "sell" their program prior to a satisfactory and/or freely given consent (without coercion or manipulation on the part of BCA or its agents) by the child.  Including this in the initial application seems unethical and inappropriate as well as violative of the child's rights.

Ascent appears to be closed.  The Ascent program no longer appears to be operational.  So, the inclusion of the last segment above in the contract is a concern. 

Application (Pages 17 &19)

"List and explain any excessive fears the student has had (darkness, thunder, death, etc.)"

"Does the student have a drug or alcohol abuse problem?" (p. 17)

"Please note any physical impairment that would limit ability to participate in activity (include need for substance detoxification):"

HEAL is concerned that BCA and similar programs use the fears they are aware the child has, against the child.  HEAL has received reports that at another UHS program, staff have intentionally played upon the fears of the child to provoke an extreme emotional response in order to provide the appearance of necessity for chemical restraints and isolation being used on the child.  This is a serious concern.  Also, given that BCA is not licensed to provide mental health services, it is a concern that they promote themselves as a mental health facility.

BCA is not licensed or approved by the state of Idaho to provide alcohol or drug treatment.  The above questions and requests for information imply that BCA does claim to provide such services.  If BCA is providing such services, they are doing so without a license and without approval by the state of Idaho to provide such services.  This is a serious concern.

"TUITION & FEE SCHEDULE"

"Enrollment fee (nonrefundable)...$6,900... Includes all of the following: Parent Conferences...Parent Basic Workshop attendance for two...Educational and Outdoor Adventure Trips (Exception: Parent/Child Trip cost not included) *All trips are dependent upon student eligibility*...Use of a laptop computer and set-up while attending Boulder Creek Academy...Hygiene Products...Ancillary Trip Fee (2nd Year)...$4,900."

"Monthly tuition (nonrefundable)...$6,900... Includes all of the following: Room and board... College preparatory academic curriculum...Academic workbooks and textbooks...Emotional Growth program...Private tutoring...Independent studies course (if needed)....Clinical Services (individual and group therapy)...Standard single-day field trips...Team sports...Student allowance (amount varies with the phase of the program)...Transportation which includes: - Local medical and dental appointments...Medical Emergencies...Spokane airport trips for regularly scheduled home visits and family emergencies..."

"Psychiatric Services...as incurred...Initial Evaluation...$380.00"

"Parent/Child Trips...(In addition to monthly tuition)....as incurred"

"Parent Workshops...Basic Workshop (for additional attendees)...$325/person...Advanced Workshop (optional)...$700/person."

"Ascent Intervention...$450/night"

"Clinical testing*...as incurred...*If your student requires these services, the Clinical Services Department will contact you prior to providing services."

"Transport Fees to Spokane Airport (Each trip one-way/Round Trip)...$150/$300"

It appears that the ancillary trip fee of $4,900 is not included in the enrollment fee of $6,900, and the language of this section is unclear and confusing.  Under the "monthly tuition" portion of the contract, scheduled and emergency trips appear to be included services.  However, this is contradicted by the $300 transport fee mentioned at the end of the fee schedule.

It also appears that BCA claims to provide individual and group therapy under "clinical services", but, further in the fee schedule clinical services come at additional/supplemental costs.  Also, BCA is not licensed to provide "clinical services" in Idaho.  This is a serious concern, as mentioned previously.

What is the phase system?  What other "privileges" or "disciplinary actions" are included in the "phase system"?  These are serious concerns as level systems are predominantly used by fraudulent and/or abusive behavior modification programs.  See our warning signs list for additional information.

BCA appears to subcontract and charge extra for psychiatric services.  This is a serious concern.  Who is in charge of the mental well-being of children in this program and what, if any, oversight is conducted to insure quality and proper licensure of the program and/or its staff?  BCA is not licensed to provide the services they claim to provide.

Again, BCA contradicts itself.  Are child/parent trips covered under the monthly tuition fees or are they billed separately as is suggested in other areas of the "FEE SCHEDULE"?  How much will this bogus program end up costing vulnerable families?

Are parents pressured to participate in the "Advanced Workshop"?  What occurs in these "workshops"?  Who benefits from these "workshops"/seminars?  And, why the additional fee for such services when the tuition fees are above and beyond (nearly double) the cost of a year at Harvard University? 

Again, HEAL believes Ascent Intervention is closed.  It is unclear why this fee is being included in the program data.  But, the closure of Ascent appears to be recent and the last time the BCA application was updated was in 2006. 

Based on the history, reputation, and application review, HEAL would strongly recommend against placing any child in Boulder Creek Academy and we heartily suggest families remove any child currently enrolled in this program.

 

Also See: Staff List and Background Information

 

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