(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 Oak Creek Ranch School. 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 Oak Creek Ranch School, you have the right to take action.†
If you were harmed (family or survivor) by Oak Creek Ranch School, please contact firstname.lastname@example.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 donít place your loved one in Oak Creek Ranch School and rescue them if they are there now.
|David Wick Jr.||Headmaster/Founder|
|Noel Marquis||Teacher||Marquis no longer appears to work for this program.|
|Erik Naedler||Teacher||Naedler no longer appears to work for this program.|
|Margaret (Peg) Miller||Teacher|
|Larry Patterson||Dean of Students||Patterson no longer appears to work for this program.|
|Jim Graves||Dean of Students||Reported by former employee of Oak Creek Ranch School via e-mail on June 20th, 2011.|
|Joe Williams||Sr. Campus Spvr.||Reported by former employee of Oak Creek Ranch School via e-mail on June 20th, 2011.|
|Rick Orn||Sr. Campus Spvr.||Reported by former employee of Oak Creek Ranch School via e-mail on June 20th, 2011.|
|Terra Ivers||Campus Supervisor||Reported by former employee of Oak Creek Ranch School via e-mail on June 20th, 2011.|
|Matt Elm||Campus Supervisor||Reported by former employee of Oak Creek Ranch School via e-mail on June 20th, 2011.|
|Allan Popsack||Admissions Director||Mr. Popsack was reportedly barred from working with children in Pennsylvania due to immoral and cruel conduct. See www.heal-online.org/popsackdisciplinepa.pdf for more information.|
HEAL is currently investigating Oak Creek Ranch School (OCRS). We've found a number of problems with their practices and materials. Some of the issues of concern we have with Oak Creek Ranch School's current practices include:
1. The accrediting agency (North Central Assocation or NCA) does not do regular (at least annual) unannounced visits to inspect the program. The NCA only visits the program in person once every 5 years and allows the program to self-assess/self-regulate. The visits every 5 years are announced visits and supervised/planned by the program, not the agency. It is a paid membership organization. Please see the Congressional Hearings at: www.beyondbusiness.net/congress.htm for information on these types of "accreditation" agencies and the problems they pose to parents and regulating bodies.
2. OCRS uses a level system similar to those used at other abusive programs. They hide this level system under the guise of grade level completion. However, no matter how successful your child is academically, they will not be allowed to advance to the next "grade" if they are not meeting other vague and arbitrary conditions.
3. OCRS places other children/teens in control of your child. This is a dangerous practice and should not be overlooked as a threat to the safety of your child.
4. OCRS uses a point system similar to that used at other abusive programs. Points are used to "buy" necessities as well as privileges. And, points can be taken away and demerits/white slips issued with additional punishment. It is easier to lose points than to earn them. This is detrimental to building self-esteem and preparing for independent adult living.
5. OCRS does not allow unannounced visits by parents to see their children. This is a very big red flag and any program that denies person-to-person contact between parent and child is not a good placement.
6. OCRS does not allow time for phone access and/or denies phone access at all times to students. If a child is being abused, they will have no way to report this to authorities or to you. This is a dangerous situation and no child should be denied access to a telephone. Access to telephones are also "denied" as punishment. This is another serious concern.
7. OCRS does not wish parents to send their children care packages or other necessities nor do they provide said necessities to the child unless "earned". This is abusive.
8. OCRS conducts illegal searches and seizures. Strip searches have been used at these programs for no other purpose than to degrade and humiliate children. Victims of sexual abuse and others are forced to endure this trauma. This is unacceptable.
9. OCRS illegally monitors/censors incoming and outgoing mail, including between parents and children. This is illegal and violates Federal Laws.
10. OCRS will deny a child use of the bathroom as punishment. This is cruel and can cause lasting physical problems.
1. OCRS acts as a liaison to place young adults into military service.
2. OCRS recruits new "students" who've completed other unregulated/unlicensed wilderness/residential programs.
3. OCRS will medicate your child and psychiatric medications can and do cause permanent brain damage. This is a serious concern.
4. OCRS requires a signed release that will allow your child's video/image/voice to be recorded and used in promotional materials for the school. This is unconscionable and violates the child's right to privacy.
5. OCRS places its interests above those of its students. This is clearly stated in their handbook authored and signed by Larry Patterson, Dean of Students at OCRS.
6. OCRS gives "allowances" for necessities. However, allowances can be denied and necessities will be bought on credit. A child could leave OCRS owing for their necessities. This is a program you are paying for and your child's necessities (toiletries, laundry, personal needs) should always be met and not used as punishment.
Please note that these are only a few of the problems we've uncovered at Oak Creek Ranch School. We have reports of abuse and negligence from the 1980's through July of 2008 regarding Oak Creek Ranch School in Sedona, AZ.
HEAL Review: Oak Creek Ranch School's Application for Enrollment
(This review does not constitute legal advice and is for information purposes only. If you need legal assistance, please contact an attorney.)
Following is HEAL's review of Oak Creek Ranch School's application. The hyperlinked text in the previous sentence will take you to the complete documents used for this review. The documents linked above are the original documents from Oak Creek Ranch School and are the basis for this review. We will not be linking to the documents throughout the remainder of the review and advise readers to open the documents in a new window if greater contextualization is preferred. This review will follow the same format as others on our website. We will begin with the document/page title, page number (when applicable), and quoted text from those pages followed by our comments, questions, and concerns.
Oak Creek Ranch School is not licensed as a behavioral health or mental health services provider according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. This is a serious concern since Oak Creek Ranch School advertises itself as a specialty boarding school that provides services to children with behavioral (ADD, ADHD, etc.) and learning disabilities. (source: ocrs.com, August 7th, 2011) Since it is not licensed to provide such services, this is a serious concern. "Under Arizona law (ARS 15-161), private schools are free to operate as they see fit without the supervision of state or local education authorities." It is unwise to entrust your child to any school or program that is not licensed nor regulated by any oversight agencies. This places children in harm's way and can result in serious problems for the child and his/her family. In addition, the North Central Association is NOT recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as an accreditation agency for degree/diploma secondary (high school) programs. The North Central Association is only recognized as an accreditation agency for post-secondary, non-degree vocational programs. This shows that Oak Creek Ranch School engages in false advertising/deceptive marketing and is best to be avoided.
There is no issue with an application requiring the name and birth-date of an applicant. Our primary concern is that Oak Creek Ranch School appears to be a scam and that families shouldn't contract with Oak Creek Ranch School nor share any identifying information with the school.
It is a serious concern that Oak Creek requires the passport information and e-mail address of children enrolled in the program. No parent should entrust their child to a program that intends to take the child out of the country. This is a serious concern as such can indicate child exploitation and forced labor (enslavement) of children enrolled in the program. HEAL has also received reports that similar programs have harassed former "clients/students" via e-mail and have used the private contact information to harass children once they are out of the program.
Some programs require the employer/business information of the parents who are enrolling their child and some do not. The fact that some do not suggests that such information is not required in order to enact a contract between the parties. Some families have reported being harassed or having their employers harassed by program directors in order to intimidate or coerce families into obeying the program and any "extortion" or "coerced payment of fees" by using the information to that end. Again, we advise against placing any child at Oak Creek Ranch School and advise families to avoid sharing their sensitive information with people who are likely running a scam.
Application Page 3 Quotes
"Please list, explain and provide documentation for any of the student's diagnosed academic or physical disabilities:"
"Please list and explain the student's academic strengths and weaknesses:"
"Please list and explain the student's social strengths and weaknesses:"
Oak Creek Ranch School is not a licensed mental health, educational, nor behavioral health facility. Therefore, the first quote is misleading in regards to the types of services that are implied to be provided by Oak Creek Ranch School. This is a serious concern.
Parents may not know and certainly are not the appropriate agents to provide academic performance information. Such questions should be asked of school counselors, teachers, or other legitimate academic service personnel who have experience working with and evaluating the student. This further shows the lack of proper evaluation by Oak Creek Ranch School and provides additional basis for avoiding enrolling any child in this program.
Parents may not know and are likely not the appropriate agents to describe a student's social strengths and "weaknesses". Such questions should be asked of any counselors, therapists, or other providers who have properly evaluated the student. If no such evaluation has been performed by a qualified professional, then such should be done prior to enrolling a child in any residential program. In addition, the student may be the best source for expressing and/or determining what the needs are of that student and this can only be done through direct interaction with the student and will take time. A few lines on an application completed by parents who may be neglectful, abusive, or otherwise unqualified to provide the information is unprofessional and further shows that Oak Creek Ranch School is not operating in a professional manner in regards to children enrolled in its program and their families.
Application Page 4 Quotes
"Please explain student's involvement with alcohol or drugs, if any. Also discuss any legal proceedings related to such involvement and the current status of those proceedings."
Oak Creek Ranch School is not a licensed drug treatment facility. This is a serious concern as such is implied by the above query and further shows deceptive marketing practices on the part of Oak Creek Ranch School. We advise against placing any child in Oak Creek Ranch School and that any child currently enrolled be immediately withdrawn/rescued.
Application Page 5 Quotes
"OAK CREEK RANCH SCHOOL CONDITIONS OF ENROLLMENT"
"It is understood that you, as parents or guardian of the child, and the student hereby authorize and agree to the following matters:"
"In case of illness, or accident or other similar emergency, the school, or any authorized agent thereof, is authorized to seek and obtain medical care or treatment for your child, and may authorize any physician, hospital or medical institution to render the necessary care."
"Authorized school personnel shall have access to all dormitories, private rooms therein, cases, packages, mail and containers for the purpose of inspection at any time. Authorized school personnel shall also have the right to open and inspect any mail or other packages being received or sent by a student at any time."
"For the purpose of facilitating the settlement of insurance claims for accidents or medical care, it is agreed that the doctors, hospitals or other medical care providers concerned with the care of your child have your permission to give requested or necessary information to the school upon request."
"The school does not assume responsibility for loss or damage to student's possessions. The undersigned agrees that the student, parent or guardian will independently and separately insure such items."
"The parent(s)/guardian whose signature appears below hereby grants the director of Oak Creek Ranch School the right of in loco parentis for the period of enrollment only, and hereby agrees to indemnify the school for any and all costs or expenses incurred by the school on the applicant's behalf and for any and all costs, expenses or damages incurred by the school due to the applicant's acts or omissions."
"Signing of this agreement constitutes the acceptance of its terms and the contract to pay the entire year's tuition as specified on the tuition schedule. The undersigned further agrees and understand that there is no right to any reduction or refund of any tuition, recreation or transportation fee in the event of the applicant's absence, withdrawal or dismissal from the school, regardless of the circumstances. In the event full payment has not been made at the time of any absence, withdrawal or dismissal, the total contract amount shall remain due and owing."
"In the event of nonpayment, the undersigned further agrees to pay 1-1/2% interest per month delinquency fee on the unpaid balance, from due date of above tuition until paid in full or otherwise agreed. In the event of any dispute arising out of the student's enrollment, this agreement, dispute over tuition or non-payment of tuition, the prevailing party shall be entitled to reimbursement of all court costs, expenses and attorney's fees."
"This agreement is made and entered into in the State of Arizona and the contract arising from application and acceptance shall be construed and governed by the laws of the State of Arizona. Exclusive jurisdiction and venue for any dispute or claim arising between the school, the undersigned and/or the student shall be only in Yavapai County, Arizona. The student and the undersigned agree to all of the above conditions of enrollment."
It is a reasonable term for a residential/boarding school to require permission to seek emergency medical care for a child enrolled in the facility. However, non-emergency care should always be approved by the parents and/or family doctor that normally administers to the child. Some programs in this industry engage in experimental drug testing on children and other experimental procedures for which the program receives financial incentive and which put the children in harm's way. Families should make sure any non-emergency treatment or procedures are for the benefit and born of necessity of the child, not the financial benefit of the program.
Oak Creek Ranch School admits to censoring and monitoring children's incoming and outgoing mail. This is illegal and a violation of the children's rights. Please see www.heal-online.org/provocases.htm and www.heal-online.org/legalarguments.htm for more information. In addition, such censorship and monitoring of communications is indicative of an abusive facility. Please see www.heal-online.org/warn.htm for warning signs and questions you should ask any program you consider for your family.
Oak Creek Ranch School is not a licensed nor properly accredited school or residential program. Because of this, it is not required to protect your health information if it gains access to such records. Families should not authorize Oak Creek Ranch School access to protected health information and this is a serious concern.
Oak Creek Ranch School does not accept responsibility for loss or damage to student's property. Yet, Oak Creek Ranch demands unfettered access to that property and control over that property. These terms are unconscionable and raise further concerns about Oak Creek Ranch School.
Oak Creek Ranch School asks parents to agree that Oak Creek is operating "in loco parentis". "In loco parentis" is "[t]he legal doctrine under which an individual assumes parental rights, duties, and obligations without going through the formalities of legal Adoption." (source: http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/In+loco+parentis) The issue with this is that Oak Creek demands all the rights but assumes none of the duties or obligations for providing or ensuring a safe environment for the children while actively violating the rights of the children (something the parents could not do and have a duty not to do). The fact that Oak Creek does not assume the responsibilities is proved by the statement that Oak Creek demands parents indemnify Oak Creek from any legal liability that may arise from their actions or failures of action. Again, this is a serious concern and no child should be enrolled in Oak Creek Ranch School and all children currently enrolled should be removed immediately. Abandoning a child with frauds who control every aspect of the child's life is not an acceptable nor responsible decision and parents have a responsibility to make responsible decisions for their families.
It is unconscionable for Oak Creek to "retain the right" to dismiss a child at its sole discretion and even in the event a child has not violated any known rule of the school/program and then still collect the full tuition costs. It is also unconscionable to claim to be a school when it is not properly accredited nor licensed as a school. These issues have also been addressed above and further confirm HEAL's position that Oak Creek Ranch School is a scam and best to be avoided.
Parents should consult with an attorney if they have unwittingly entered into an agreement with Oak Creek Ranch School. Do not allow the terms of the agreement to deter you or to extort you into paying for services that were deceptively marketed to you. Please consult an attorney and learn your rights. Regardless of jurisdiction, Oak Creek has used deception to induce families into enrolling children into Oak Creek Ranch School and this is a legitimate basis for arguing for the avoidance/voidability of the contract. Please contact an attorney for more information and assistance.
November 15th, 2011
Last Updated: November 15th, 2011