This is a  staff list for Academy at Cedar Mountain in Cedar City, UT

(a.k.a. Mountain Springs Preparatory Academy)

(we are working to acquire the complete records for ALL years)

 

We advise current and/or former staff to report any abuses you may have witnessed while working at Mountain Springs Preparatory Academy.  For information on your rights and how to take action, visit www.heal-online.org/blowthewhistle.htm.  If you were fired or forced to resign because you opposed any illegal and/or unethical practices at Mountain Springs Preparatory Academy, you have the right to take action. 

 

If you were harmed (family or survivor) by Mountain Springs Preparatory Academy, please contact info@heal-online.org if you remember the long-term employees and from which years.  This will help!   Also, if you recognize any of these staff as having worked at another program, please send in any information about their past or present employment at other facilities and/or cults.

 

Please don’t place your loved one in Mountain Springs Preparatory Academy and rescue them if they are there now.

 

Name

Unit/Position

Additional Information
Kent Tasso Owner He moved back to Utah in 2001 and co-founded CERTS while launching Kolob Canyon Residential Treatment Center initially, and then later Moonridge Academy , La Europa Academy, and Mountain Springs Preparatory Academy.  Tasso/CERTS (Certified Educational Therapeutic Schools and Programs) bought Academy at Cedar Mountain in 2005 and changed the name sometime thereafter. 
Craig Rodabough Executive Director Craig has been working as the Director at Tavasi, a transitional program for Logan River Academy.  Prior to opening Tavasi, he was the Clinical Services Director at Logan River Academy (co-owned/co-founded by Robert Crist of notoriously abusive Provo Canyon School). He currently sits on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP).
Jon Larsen Head of Schools Prior to working at Mountain Springs he worked at two unnamed facilities.*
Ariel Rhoades Dean of Student Life  
Stan Stewart Academic Dean Graduate of BYU.
Desiree Fryer Director of Operations She has been with CERTS for the last 4 years, working at Moonridge Academy as a mentor and shift leader and at Kolob Canyon RTC. She has been working at Mountain Springs for the past 2 years, a large portion of that time as the Staff Director.
Keri Cosslett Nurse  
Sami Hunt Teacher  
Jan Davis Teacher  
Amilyn Williams Teacher  
Scott Henningson Teacher  
Marsha Garber Counselor  
Jody Wittwer Teacher  
Heather Babb Instructor  
Jan Davis Instructor  
Brittney Cropper Instructor  
HEAL Review: Admissions Application

HEAL has reviewed the parent handbook for Mountain Springs' sister program, Moonridge Academy.  We advise families/parents considering Mountain Springs to review the information on programs with which it is associated as well.  This includes Kolob Canyon Residential Treatment CenterMoonridge Academy, and La Europa Academy.

The admissions application is linked above in the title of this segment.  For your convenience, you can use the application to fact-check our statements regarding the application and any questions or concerns raised.  Since the application does not include the contracts, waivers, or program details, this is a limited review.

HEAL organizes our reviews by page number of the primary source document (i.e. Mountain Springs Application), quoted text from the document, and questions or concerns regarding the information provided by Mountain Springs in their documents/application.

Application Review

Page 1 Quotes

"Please include a check or money order for $350.00 as a non-refundable application fee with your application."

HEAL Comments/Concerns

The program fees and expenses are explained in greater detail on page 3 of the application and will be further reviewed in that section.  We point out that there is a non-refundable $350.00 fee for "processing" the application which can be accepted, provisionally accepted, or rejected by Mountain Springs. (See Page 2)  Based on the fact that this program charges more than Harvard Tuition and will hold children up to 24-months (See Page 3) while providing inadequate educational and treatment services, we think the application processing fee is excessive and points to the profit-driven motive of Mountain Springs that places its profits above the needs of the children and families they claim to serve.  This is a serious concern as many families have suffered financial hardship being duped by programs like Mountain Springs that do not provide legitimate educational and therapeutic services. 

CERTS is not a third-party, independent, respected educational or training program for residential treatment staff.  It is simply a made-up certification system that is trademarked by the parent company of Mountain Springs, Kolob Canyon RTC, Moonridge Academy, and La Europa Academy.  The claim that they are a CERTS program tells you no more about it than McDonald's claiming they make hamburgers tells you about their culinary skills and qualifications.  Don't be impressed by acronyms and claims.  Look into it.

Page 2 Quotes

"Rule Outs"

"Diabetic"

"Standards for Acceptance"

"Adolescent commitment to participation in the program."

"Parents agree to first and last month non-refundable payment."

"Mountain Springs Academy does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, ethnic background or national origin in the admission of students."

"Type of Student Admitted"

"Are coming from a treatment setting..."

HEAL Comments/Concerns

Why isn't Mountain Springs able to accommodate individuals with diabetes?  HEAL is glad that they don't as it eliminates concern that individuals with diabetes would be subjected to Mountain Springs.  However, we'd like to know what the diet is at Mountain Springs and why they cannot support individuals with diabetes.

Once a child has "graduated" from Kolob Canyon RTC, La Europa Academy, and/or Moonridge Academy, those programs coerce and/or use undue influence to get children to commit to their "after-care" program at Mountain Springs.  This allows CERTS to keep using the children for free labor at their other programs while raking in the big bucks from unwitting families.  Children are often told that they will be punished or that it will be a sign of their lack of readiness for graduation if they do not agree to continue onto Mountain Springs.  And, teens wanting the additional freedom and to go home will agree to commit to attend Mountain Springs if it means they will no longer be held at one of the more "restrictive" (abusive) programs in the CERTS "family" of programs.  The kids then get on the phone with their "therapist" and their parents and claim to want to go to Mountain Springs, believing that it is the only option that moves them closer to freedom.  The parents being manipulated by the program into believing it is best for their child to remain institutionalized and to believe it is "support" for their child in their decision to continue with the program, agree to keep paying the big bucks for nothing.  And, this is how the scam is perpetuated for years.  It is a serious concern and why parents should not enroll their children in programs like Mountain Springs.

Does Mountain Springs Academy discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation?  Sexual orientation is excluded from their stated non-discrimination policy.  This is a concern as it exemplifies intolerance. 

Mountain Springs is the transitional/after-care choice of CERTS programs because it is a CERTS program and allows them to keep making money off of unwitting families.  This is a concern and addressed above.

Page 3 Quotes

"Tuition at Mountain Springs is $4,995 per month.  A minimum stay at Mountain Springs is four months (one semester), with stays generally ranging anywhere from four to twenty four months, depending upon the student's situation.  There is also an Enrollment Fee of $2500 ($750 Student Trust Fee, $1400 Academic/Activities Fee, and $350 Application Fee) that is due at the time of admission as well in the form of 2 separate checks ($750 and $1750)."

"Tuition does not cover therapy sessions (which are contracted out), incidental expenses, psychiatric services and medications--if any, or travel costs associated with the five larger optional yearly knowledge treks."

HEAL Comments/Concerns

The minimum cost of this program for 4 months is $12,490 excluding fees for therapy sessions, incidental expenses, psychiatric services/medications, and travel.  Since the longest a teen can be enrolled is 24-months, we will provide you with the total minimum cost excluding the fees for therapy sessions, incidental expenses, psychiatric services/medications, and travel.  The minimum cost of this program for one year, including enrollment fees, student trust fee, academic/activities fee, and the application fee is $62,440.  This makes attending Mountain Springs Preparatory Academy more expensive than Harvard tuition with room and board.  "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)  How does Mountain Springs justify charging more than Harvard University when those charges do not include the therapeutic/treatment aspects of their supposed service? 

Page 4 Quotes

"Social Security #"

"Do you have an Educational Consultant?"

HEAL Comments/Concerns

Why does Mountain Springs require the social security number of the enrolled minor and their parents?  Even public schools and hospitals claim that providing that information is optional.  How does Mountain Springs use this information?

Does Mountain Springs compensate Educational Consultants and other referrers for their referrals?  If so, there is a serious ethical problem with the recommendation.  Many Educational Consultants mislead parents by claiming they do not receive payment for referrals when they actually do receive compensation for their referrals.  This is a concern.

Page 8 Quotes

"RELEASE OF ACADEMIC INFORMATION"

HEAL Comments/Concerns

Moonridge Academy survivors have reported that the academic credits they earned at Moonridge Academy did not transfer and were not accepted by legitimate schools and colleges.  Since Moonridge Academy is a sister program to Mountain Springs, we have no reason to believe that the academic credits provided by Mountain Springs are legitimate and transferrable.  This is a serious concern because parents are paying more than Harvard tuition for educational credits that don't transfer.  This sets youth attending such programs up for failure.  And, this is unacceptable.

Is Mountain Springs Preparatory Academy accredited?  According to the Utah State Office of Education School Directory (includes private/residential and public schools in Utah), it is listed as a private school accredited by NAAS (Northwest Association of Accredited Schools).  NAAS was forced to change their name to NWAC after a lawsuit was filed for misappropriating the name of a legitimate accreditation agency.  NAAS was also a co-defendant in a lawsuit against the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools in 2006.  (Case Citation: Bruce Dungan, et al. v. World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools, Inc., NAAS, et al., United States District Court, Northern District of New York, July 25th, 2006)  The attorneys representing the plaintiffs in this case were Hancock & Estabrook, LLP.  The lawsuit was filed as a class action.  Academy at Ivy Ridge was the basis of the lawsuit.  NAAS "accredited" this school.  Quote:   "Ivy Ridge Academy accreditation rejected:  The Academy at Ivy Ridge will not be allowed to resume issuing high school diplomas.  The State Education Department has rejected the Academy's application, according to stories Friday in St. Lawrence County newspapers and The Watertown Times.  A letter from the State Education Department to Ivy Ridge quoted in the Watertown Times says, "The Department's review revealed that AIR is principally a behavior modification program and not a school..."  For complete story, click here.  So, NAAS/NWAC accreditation does not provide effective assurance that the credits "earned" at Mountain Springs are transferable.  This is a serious concern.

Page 10 Quotes

"MEDICAL HISTORY"

HEAL Comments/Concerns

Is Mountain Springs Preparatory Academy a medical facility?  If not, why do they require an extensive medical history of their "students"?  The medical history they require is far more extensive than is requested by legitimate schools.  Mountain Springs Preparatory Academy/CERTS is not licensed as a medical or psychiatric care provider

Based on all of the information we currently have on CERTS and Mountain Springs Preparatory Academy, we recommend against placing anyone in this program and suggest parents remove/rescue children currently enrolled.

ONE PARENT'S STORY

Our son ---- was abused and neglected during his stay at the Academy at Cedar Mountain (ACM), in Cedar City, UT from December 2003 through August 2004. Our statute of limitations is near expiring, so I am looking to hear immediately from other parents or children who had similar problems during their stay during that time frame. We were told by their director, Mr. Cameron Tea, that the ACM fired one of their college student counselors and suspended two other counselors. The ACM used college students to supervise our children from 4 PM to 8 AM and on some of their field trips. The firing and suspensions occurred after Mr. Tea discovered on their “Mexico” vacation trip, subsequent camping trip, and during evening hours the ACM counselors provided our children with alcohol and marijuana plus allowed our under-aged children to have sex together. We also heard from a fellow student that many of the parents pulled their children from this facility shortly after we did. In fact, within two months of when we pulled our son, an article in the local Cedar City Utah paper said the ACM student population dropped to fifteen. When we pulled our son Mr. Tea said they had over thirty children enrolled. What we heard third hand is apparently some of the parents got together with an attorney. Given the serious problems suffered the ACM owners and insurance company negotiated a full tuition refund plus attorney fees. Because that school claims some medical privileges they refuse to disclose any of the information on the fellow students at that time and apparently those who got refunds signed non-disclosure agreements.

 

We enrolled our son in the ACM program because they were strongly pushed by one the medical counselor our son was seeing. Our son has a rare form of dyslexia that causes him to transpose syllables and small words, making reading a constant and frustrating challenge. He is a very bright fellow, so if he hears the information he does well. Our Sacramento, California San Jan School District did well by him providing counselors and help so he did well through grammar school. In middle school budget cuts eliminated that kind of help and he was still bright enough to squeak by on what he heard from the teachers, but began falling behind. By the time he started high school he had missed just too much and was in trouble. Rather than provide help that our school district could not afford, they dumped our son into their developmentally disabled classes. Our son was one of the top athletes in the area, an outstanding musician, exceptionally good at math, and just a few weeks away from completing his Boy Scout Eagle rank. He went from being a peer leader to suddenly being constantly harassed for being put in the “retarded” classes for his English, Geography, History, Social Studies, and all other reading intensive classes. These classes are for those who range from serious deformities to learning disorders. That peer pressure coupled with my having life threatening health problems and my wife struggling with her own problems to totally overwhelm our son. Our son’s medical counselor strongly pushed the ACM. He told us the ACM had their own on staff full time psychologist, consulting psychiatrist that worked out custom programs for each child, and full staff of teachers and adult supervisors would help our son to effectively deal with his disability. The ACM said the same thing and claimed to not have anything to do with juvenile delinquents, but instead focused on helping children with disabilities to learn how to effectively deal with these disabilities. The ACM staff also said they were closely aligned with the local university where the kids would regularly be allowed to attend classes and get extra support. The ACM management also said that they were associated with the local Boy Scout Troop and would help our son finish his Eagle project which was all he needed to earn that Boy Scout rank. The minimum nine month ACM program was not cheap at $35,000, but we were desperate because our son had fallen so far behind his peers he was miserable, badly depressed, and getting worse.

 

Little did we know that the ACM was a fraud. We were not told until doing research long after we pulled our son from that school that the ACM paid our medical hospital counselor we trusted a $5,000 referral fee. We learned that instead, of being a school that specialized on children with learning disabilities, the ACM was almost totally filled with teens with serious behavioral problems meaning most had bad problems with alcohol, drugs or criminal behavior. The ACM did not have the promised psychologist on staff, did not have a consulting psychiatrist, and none of their teachers were certified or trained to help children with learning disorders. Instead of a carefully medically sound individualized plan as promised, the ACM used the same four step program for teens troubled with alcohol, drugs, and crime issues which is so onerous that schools using this program have been closed all over the country. This ACM program subjected our son to a 24/7 structured lock down that took away all privileges and forced him to comply with their “structure”. They took away our son’s weekly telephone call home if he said anything negative about their program. They stole the $80 incidental money we sent him every month leaving him without the funds to replace his clothes or replenish his toiletries. Although the ACM “required” three and preferably four family visits in a year, the ACM actually did not want us there at all and strongly dissuaded us from visiting. During my visit I found the ACM stole almost all of the $80 a month that we put into our son’s drawing account for his clothing and toiletries, plus the students stole a good portion of his nicer clothes including even his shoes. I also found the ACM used our son and their other students as forced labor to not only do almost all of the work and improvements around their school, but also to do labor intensive work for the owners’ other properties and activities. For instance, the expensive trip/tour of Mexico which was supposed to be our son’s vacation reward for passing their multi-step program for juvenile delinquents ended up instead being more forced labor to comply with some owner church group obligation to send labor to help build homes for the disadvantaged in Mexico. After not hearing from our son for weeks after that Mexico trip, I became very concerned. Our calls were intercepted with the ACM staff saying that our son had misbehaved and lost his telephone privileges. Finally, our son snuck a call to me at about 2 AM. He shared the nonsense going on with the ACM. I contacted Mr. Cameron Tea their director as soon as they opened. Mr. Tea admitted the serious problems with the alcohol, drugs, and sex plus firing one staff member and suspending two others. I advised Mr. Tea we were immediately pulling our son the following weekend. Mr. Tea’s promised to immediately refund our prepaid tuition for following month and the six weeks prior associated with the Mexico debacle and these other problems.

 

Apparently we were the first of many who pulled their children. Of course we got nothing but one empty promise after another from the ACM which changed owners and claims no responsibility for the prior problems. They officially stole about $8,000 in tuition plus another roughly $230 supposedly left in our son’s drawing account. They unofficially stole our $35,000 tuition, $640 in drawing account, and at least $4,000 more in our traveling to and from that facility.

If you would like to submit a report on Academy at Cedar Mountain, click here.

 *(Mountain Springs Preparatory Academy, like many other programs in this industry, keeps a "tight lid" on any specific information regarding their staff, qualifications, and practices.  Please contact us with the names of any staff of which you have firsthand knowledge or experience.  Thank you for your help.)

 Last Updated: October 19th, 2011

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