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dahlonega, GA


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Parental Advisory:  HEAL regrets to inform you that we have yet to find a "good" treatment program for children and teens. At this time, we recommend you seek local solutions, primarily family therapy. 


August 10th, 2009 Lawsuit Update:  The class action suit filed against Hidden Lake Academy was settled for a measly $400,000 which has been distributed from the bankruptcy fund.  Hidden Lake Academy (HLA) filed for bankruptcy in 2009 to avoid paying an appropriate settlement to the children and families they have defrauded and harmed.  Should Hidden Lake Academy re-emerge from this huge setback, please do not subject your child and your family to their fraud and abuse.  This was reported by an anonymous HLA victim.




Report One: By Anonymous Survivor


Your [HEAL’s] assumption that Hidden Lake Academy is an abusive facility is correct, in spite of the fact that they are expensive ($5,400 +/mo) and have ‘licensed’ staff.


Among other abuses that former participants have alleged, they apparently:


*Accept teens in violation of the ICPC.


*Diagnose teens during interviews with prospective parents, based on the parents observations.


*Limit the teens access to parents and forbid contact with other family members.


*Screen incoming and outgoing mail.


*Do not allow teens access to a public phone or allow unmonitored communications.


*Perform restraints in violation of their statement against such.


*Have a limited calorie diet for teens who are on “restriction”, which technically could go on indefinitely.


*Require teens to clean the grounds, make trails, dig ditches, and pick up trash as punishment.


*Operated for 7 years without a license as a traditional boarding school while advertising to the public as a Therapeutic     

  College-Prep Boarding School; and stating at their website that a portion of the monthly tuition may be covered by     

  medical insurance and that monthly tuition may be tax deductible.  They are not listed with the Office of Regulatory 

  Services as a Residential Treatment Center .




*They are not listed with the DOE as a private school:   




*While HLA is listed as a Educational Agency with Special Purpose at Ga Accrediting Commission



*Opened an unlicensed Wilderness Program and professed that it was not a boot camp, yet until recently, the majority  of employees were ex-military who did not possess credentials or experience working with teens or families.


*They violate many of the state regulations set up to protect patients rights and safeguard against abuse.




*While HLA doesn’t state that they are associated with CEDU, they use CEDU terms and similar techniques such as  “peer groups, rap, bans, fall-out, etc”. Their name has been mentioned in association with CEDU. 


  http://www.strugglingteens.com/archives/1994/10/np03.html and http://fornits.com/wwf/viewforum.php?forum=41


[HEAL Note:  HEAL does not endorse strugglingteens.com]


*The original Headmaster at HLA who was a former CEDU employee went on to help start another east coast facility  which had problems with CPS for not possessing a license and for abuse alleged by a former employee.




*The owner of HLA is an Educational Consultant and only refers to his programs.




He funded the creation of an industry association-NATSAP http://www.strugglingteens.com/archives/1999/4/news01.html which opposed legislation designed to protect ‘escorted’ teens. http://www.strugglingteens.com/archives/1999/7/seen03.html


The fact that they list homosexuality as a ‘problem’ is curious, as many who have met the owner believe him to be a homosexual.


Report Two: By Amanda M.


I attended HLA for almost three weeks. After about 11 days there, another girl and I attempted escape. We were then placed on the restriction. She cooperated, I did not. I was eventually kept in their "isolation cabin" with someone watching 24/7. I was purposely fed moldy bread, warm, old cheese and 1 piece of rotten fruit every meal, which I refused. Nothing but warm water was provided at meals. I was kept in the isolation cabin with rats, mice, and other insects. I was not allowed to brush my teeth for over 2 days. I was menstruating and not given any feminine products, nor a change of clothes, nor a shower. I received a shower at the local detention center over 3 days after my isolation started, after I found that I could walk away, only to be arrested, which unfortunately was my best option (got me a shower and a phone call). I left the detention center 3 hours later...I was never sent back to HLA and finished school at a normal boarding school. 


As for the academics, there classes are nothing more than supervision sessions. No teaching or learning goes on there. They signed me up for double art when I arrived.


To read more experiences of participants, parents, and ex-staff, visit:




If you were abused or had your rights violated at Hidden Lake Academy, please e-mail your personal statement to us so we may post it as a warning to others here.  E-mail statements/inquiries to: info@heal-online.org  




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