2016-2017 Updates, Progress, and Headlines

The following includes updates, progress, and headlines related to teen liberty and institutional abuse.  News reports regarding individual programs are now shared primarily on the background information/staff list pages of our website unless the program referenced was closed prior to creation of a staff/background information page or is located outside of the USA .  To search our news page using a PC (not a Mac), hit "CTRL+F" and enter the name of the program then hit "enter key" or "return key".  If using a Mac (not a PC),  hit "Command+F" and enter the name of the program then hit "enter".  The Command key on a Mac is also known as the Apple Key or Clover Key.

Due to a recent issue, we've been forced to archive all news articles from 1999-November, 2017.  You can view the archived posts/articles by clicking here.  See below for most recent news from earliest to latest in descending order.


Group home worker accused of sexually assaulting teens by WLUK Nicole Simon (Photo courtesy Waupaca Co. Sheriff's Office) WAUPACA (WLUK) - A newly hired worker at a Waupaca County group home for teens faces five counts of sexual assault of a child by a staff member for incidents with two teenage boys. Nicole Simon, 30, returns to court Tuesday afternoon for the balance of her initial appearance. She is currently free after posting a $2,500 cash bond. According to the criminal complaint, Simon started working at a Town of Lebanon group home in early October. The alleged sexual contact happened on five occasions between Oct. 19-30. In one instance, Simon went to the group home on a day off and asked two boys to come to her residence to help her move a couch. Once there, she performed a sex act on a 16-year-old boy, he told police, according to the complaint. “(The victim) did state that he felt he had to have sex with Nicole or he could get in trouble because he knew Nicole was in a position of power at the group home,” the complaint states. The same teen said there was another incident at the group home, and she sent sexual messages via social media. Another teen, 17, described three different sexual encounters with Simon, according to the complaint. Simon admitted to having sex with both teens, “although she claimed the contact with (teen 1) was non-consensual,” according to the complaint.  Source: http://fox11online.com/news/local/group-home-worker-accused-of-sexually-assaulting-teens
Sex trafficking, and other dangers often pose a threat to children in the foster care system Dr. John DeGarmo on a mission to recruit foster parents   Closed Captions Share Video Copied Copied Rewind 10 Seconds Next Up 00:00 00:00 00:32 Closed Captions Share Video Settings Fullscreen By Kimberly McBroom |  Posted: Wed 5:55 AM, Nov 08, 2017  |  Updated: Wed 9:24 AM, Nov 08, 2017 ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Dr. John DeGarmo is the director of The Foster Care Institute. He's on a national campaign to recruit 10- thousand new foster parents by 2020. DeGarmo says the nation's opioid crisis is fueling the huge need for more foster homes. "More people are becoming addicted to these opioids. Where are the children going? More people are dying from this crisis. 60,000 may have died last year. Where do all of these children go?" says DeGarmo. He and his wife have fostered more than 50 children over the years, adopting three. DeGarmo says our nation's foster care system is in crisis There are more than 500,000 kids in foster care, and not nearly enough homes for them. He says, "So, I'm traveling the nation, working with foster care agencies and child welfare agencies, and just bringing awareness to people that, you know what, this is a great mission you can do." DeGarmo says if more people don't answer that call, there will be even more kids in the foster care system. Often these children are looking for someone to love them, and fall victim to dangerous situations, like sex trafficking. "These children are being lured in through online means from predators. They're being approached by strangers. While not everyone has the means to foster a child, DeGarmo says we can all serve as advocates for these kids. He says if you see a child in need, or in danger, take action. "The absolute first things to do is report it. Do not feel afraid. You need to report it, because if you do not report this, who will?" We have a link to his effort to recruit foster parents to the right of this story.  Source: http://www.wdbj7.com/content/news/Sex-trafficking-and-other-dangers-often-pose-a-threat-to-children-in-the-foster-care-system-456056993.html
A Harbor Springs boarding school worked to erase Odawa culture until the 1980s By Stateside Staff • Nov 8, 2017 Related Program:  Stateside TweetShareGoogle+Email View Slideshow 1 of 5 In Harbor Springs, an Indian boarding school forced cultural assimilation for around one hundred years All photos courtesy of the LTBB Odawa Repatriation, Archives, and Records View Slideshow 2 of 5 In Harbor Springs, an Indian boarding school forced cultural assimilation for around one hundred years All photos courtesy of the LTBB Odawa Repatriation, Archives, and Records View Slideshow 3 of 5 In Harbor Springs, an Indian boarding school forced cultural assimilation for around one hundred years All photos courtesy of the LTBB Odawa Repatriation, Archives, and Records View Slideshow 4 of 5 In Harbor Springs, an Indian boarding school forced cultural assimilation for around one hundred years All photos courtesy of the LTBB Odawa Repatriation, Archives, and Records View Slideshow 5 of 5 In Harbor Springs, an Indian boarding school forced cultural assimilation for around one hundred years All photos courtesy of the LTBB Odawa Repatriation, Archives, and Records Listen Listening... 0:00 / 10:58 Stateside’s conversation with Eric Hemenway, director of archives and records for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, and Sandra Clark, director of the Michigan History Center. You have probably heard the phrase “school of choice” used when describing public education options in Michigan, but what about a “school of no choice?” That was the case for many native Michiganders for over a century. With November being Native American History Month, Stateside welcomed Eric Hemenway, director of archives and records for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in and around Harbor Springs, and Sandra Clark, director of the Michigan History Center. Read highlights below, or listen to the entire conversation above. On the creation of Indian boarding schools During the westward expansion of the United States, in which large populations of American Indians were killed, the government decided to establish a number of Indian boarding schools around the country to force the adoption of American culture. More importantly, the schools tried to erase the American Indians’ cultures. “The idea is to found these Indian boarding schools where Indian children will basically not be allowed to be Indian children anymore,” says Clark. “The boarding schools varied from community to community, but we had one here up in Harbor Springs,” says Hemenway. The school, Holy Childhood, “started out as a mission school that was in conjunction with the tribe and the local Catholic Church. But as federal policies dictated Indian education into the 1880s, the policy said that Indian language was forbidden, Indian dress was forbidden.” At the boarding schools, Indians were generally taught to be laborers, not any higher professional aspiration like doctors or lawyers, says Hemenway. The students were taught to read and write, but the schools also aimed to “uneducate them on being Odawa.” Students were reprimanded, adds Hemenway, for practicing their culture. On the schools’ closings Most of the schools closed in the 1920s, but almost certainly not for moral reasons. The U.S. government didn’t think of the American Indians as much of a threat, and World War I led the U.S. government to reconsider funding the schools because “they were very, very expensive,” says Clark. “But what makes Holy Childhood an anomaly is that it keeps going for another 60 years,” says Hemenway. “It doesn’t close until 1983 and it’s the last Indian boarding school to do so.” On impacts on American Indian communities The large-scale forcing of American Indian children into abusive schools undoubtedly had massive impacts on those communities. “Loss of language I think is one of the biggest impacts,” says Hemenway. “When these kids were at the school they were forbidden to speak their language, and [there was a] loss of culture, tradition, spiritual beliefs, community ties, family skills.” Repercussions are still felt today. Hemenway explains, “We hear devastating stories of kids who survived the school and they grow up to be our elders and, you know, they talk about the situations they went through and how that affected their ability to raise children and develop relationships with other people because of what happened to them at the boarding schools.” This segment is produced in partnership with the Michigan History Center.  Source: http://michiganradio.org/post/harbor-springs-boarding-school-worked-erase-odawa-culture-until-1980s
AG's Office: Maple Leaf overcharged Medicaid almost $860,000 Elizabeth Murray, Free Press Staff Writer Published 5:15 p.m. ET Nov. 8, 2017 | Updated 5:58 p.m. ET Nov. 8, 2017 CLOSE Events in the news through the eyes of Nick Anderson, Darrin Bell, Lisa Benson and Joe Heller.AKI SOGA/FREE PRESS, Wochit Buy Photo The Maple Leaf Treatment Center in Underhill on Wednesday, March 1, 2017.(Photo: GLENN RUSSELL/FREE PRESS)Buy Photo CONNECTTWEET 1 LINKEDINCOMMENTEMAILMORE The now-closed Maple Leaf Treatment Center billed the state for Medicaid services not provided to the tune of $860,000, according to a court filing by the Vermont Attorney General's Office this week. The claim against Maple Leaf was filed Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. It is one of 49 claims against the center, including by employees requesting lost wages and businesses stating they are owed money for services performed or goods sold.  "The state believes, if required to, that we could prove that the claims were knowingly filed, which means either with knowledge or with reckless disregard for the truth," said Assistant Attorney General Jason Turner, who leads the office's Medicaid Fraud Unit.  VTDigger.org was first to report the state's Medicaid claim against Maple Leaf's estate on Wednesday. The defunct Underhill drug and alcohol addiction treatment center closed unexpectedly in February and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Maple Leaf had served as one of three residential treatment centers in the state for opiate addiction. It also operated an an outpatient center in Colchester that was also closed.  The total amount all parties say Maple Leaf owes is more than $2 million. In its original bankruptcy filing, Maple Leaf said its total assets were more than $2.4 million, and its liabilities were more than $1.1 million.  RELATED COVERAGE: Documents: Maple Leaf under investigation by AG's Office Maple Leaf to sell assets at Underhill location Maple Leaf Treatment Center files for bankruptcy Doctor: Maple Leaf closure "irresponsible" Turner said Wednesday that most of the money the Attorney General's Office believes Maple Leaf overcharged was for claims filed from September 2016 until the center closed for what was supposed to be a temporary period in January. This totaled about $800,000.  "During that time period, Maple Leaf, from the state's position, did not have sufficient licensed alcohol and drug counselors to be providing the services for which they were billing," Turner said.  Buy Photo The Maple Leaf Treatment Center in Underhill on Wednesday, March 1, 2017. (Photo: GLENN RUSSELL/FREE PRESS) At a one point, there was only a single licensed counselor for the entire business. Turner said the state believes this person was not on-site at the inpatient facility and that the proper services weren't being provided. The center never reopened and announced it was closing indefinitely in February.  Maple Leaf double-billed the state for urine toxicology screenings, which accounts for the rest of the claim, or $60,000, the state says.  "Maple Leaf was sending those out to a third party who was billing the state while it was included in Maple Leaf's bundled rate," Turner said.  Staffing and financing had been among a "combination of factors" considered when the board discussed the future of the nonprofit, the board's president, Jeffrey Messina, said in February. Two other facilities, Serenity House in Wallingford and Valley Vista in Bradford, increased their bed count to help make up for the loss of 41 residential treatment beds. Valley Vista also opened a new facility in Vergennes in July. Turner said he does not anticipate filings in any other court, including criminal court, because of the bankruptcy case. He said now, Maple Leaf's estate trustee will have to look at which claims can be repaid using the assets available. "I think there are concerns about the collectability in this case," Turner said, referring to the Attorney General's Office's claim. "It's important to the state that the employees who were providing care at Maple Leaf are able to get their wages paid." Buy Photo The Maple Leaf Treatment Center in Underhill on Wednesday, March 1, 2017. (Photo: GLENN RUSSELL/FREE PRESS) Maple Leaf's estate trustee Douglas Wolinsky declined to comment on the case Wednesday. Any action regarding claims that can't be repaid will be determined by the estate's trustee and the Bankruptcy Court judge.  Contact Elizabeth Murray at 651-4835 or emurray@freepressmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizMurrayBFP.   Source: http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/local/2017/11/08/ags-office-maple-leaf-overcharged-medicaid-almost-860-000/844991001/
Sheriff: 20-year-old man with disabilities assaulted in group home over sandwich Posted 3:20 pm, November 9, 2017, by Jessica Bates, Updated at 04:50PM, November 9, 2017 Facebook627 Twitter Google Pinterest LinkedIn Email Akron group home alleged assault AKRON-The Summit County Sheriff's Office is investigating the allegations of violence towards a 20-year-old man with developmental disabilities inside a group home. According to the Summit County Sheriff's Office, staff members are accused of taking the victim to the basement of the facility, holding him against his will, and striking the victim several times with a broom handle back on Oct 26, 2017. Investigators say it happened because the victim reportedly ate a sandwich which belonged to a staff member. Deputies have arrested manager, Dominique Gladney, 23, program director, Octavious Thomason, 43, and employee Mennyon Davis, 26. Additional charges and arrests are pending. Source: http://fox8.com/2017/11/09/akron-police-20-year-old-man-with-disabilities-assaulted-in-group-home-over-sandwich/
Youth Justice Milwaukee pushes to close troubled Lincoln Hills prison ports Business Opinion Watchdog Tap Fresh Trails Metroparent Green Sheet Obituaries 37°Weather Milwaukee, Wisconsin 7:32 PM  A coalition of community, faith and youth advocates on Thursday called on Wisconsin lawmakers to close the state's youth prisons and for Milwaukee County judges to stop sending teens to those facilities. Youth Justice Milwaukee is pushing for state and local officials to provide resources, programs and secure facilities for Milwaukee County youth in the community, instead of the state-run Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls, located north of Wausau. "Every news story out Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake makes it clear that these facilities are broken and they can't be fixed," said Jeffrey Roman, co-founder of the coalition. In recent weeks, reports of assault on staff and sexual harassment of female workers, including teen inmates who openly masturbate in front of them, have continued to roil the institution. Lincoln Hills has been under a criminal investigation for nearly three years for prisoner abuse and child neglect. This summer, a federal judge ordered prison officials to curb their use of solitary confinement and pepper spray. State corrections officials say they have made "significant investments" to bolster safety, education, programming and mental health services and improve staff training over the past two years. A 16-year-old girl who was incarcerated at Copper Lake for nine months spoke at Youth Justice Milwaukee's news conference Thursday, saying her family struggled to make the four-hour drive to visit her. She said she spent weeks in solitary confinement. "I felt like I was losing my mind," she said. Milwaukee County Circuit Chief Judge Maxine White was not available for comment Thursday, but the county has cut the number of youth sent to Lincoln Hills and Cooper Lake from 104 in January 2016 to 57 as of October. The county also has been seeking proposals from vendors to help run a 24-bed treatment facility that at capacity could nearly halve Milwaukee transfers to Lincoln Hills.  The state Department of Corrections' primary responsibility is to protect the public, and youth at the facility have committed "very serious crimes," often failing in community-based settings, agency spokesman Tristan Cook said in an email. The facility has set up youth council to voice concerns and is creating a similar council for inmates' families, he said. RELATED: Women guards at Wisconsin teen prison subjected to sexual assault, flashing and crude comments RELATED: Attorneys to judge: a few bad teen offenders and staff shortages behind Lincoln Hills disruptions At the news conference, state Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) acknowledged some youth will need to be incarcerated. She said the question was whether Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake were appropriate places to send high-risk, high-trauma youth. "Correctional officers have now also been harmed," she said. "What are we waiting on? Does someone have to die?"  Source: http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/crime/2017/11/16/youth-advocates-push-close-wisconsin-youth-prisons-call-judges-stop-sending-teens-lincoln-hills/869777001/
Bias on the Bench: Magistrate in Children's Hospital Hacking Case Has Financial Conflicts of Interest Written by  C. Mitchell Shaw font size decrease font size increase font size Print Email A young man accused of hacking Boston Children’s Hospital to save the life of a teen girl claims that court documents show that he is the victim of persecution by prosecution. The documents — provided to The New American — also certainly show that the federal magistrate in his case has a severe conflict of interest and yet has not recused herself. The case stems from what can only accurately be called the medical kidnapping of 15-year-old Justina Pelletier by the staff of Boston Children’s Hospital and their accomplices in government. In February 2013, Justina — who had been diagnosed with (and was being treated for) mitochondrial disease, a rare genetic disorder — was taken by her mother from their home in West Hartford, Connecticut to Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) to be treated for flu-like symptoms. Justina’s diagnosis of mitochondrial disease — made by Dr. Mark Korson, the chief of metabolism at Tufts Medical Center in Boston and one of the leading experts in the field of metabolic disorders — was set aside by a BCH doctor in the seventh month of his internship in favor of somatic symptom disorder, a mental illness. The new diagnosis was rubber-stamped by BCH psychologist Dr. Ioana Simona Bujoreanu after one 25-minute examination of Justina and without consulting any other physicians. Bujoreanu — far from objective in this case — researches somatic symptom disorder under a grant from the National Institutes of Health. As investigators say, follow the money. As her funding depends on the grant, Bujoreanu conveniently “found” a case of the disorder to study. If the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, you will see every problem as a nail. On Valentine’s Day 2013, when Justina’s parents attempted to discharge her from the hospital, BCH staff sought and received the “help” of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) which took Justina into custody as a ward of the state. DCF justified the action by accusing the Pelletiers of “medical child abuse.” Justina was transferred to “Bader 5,” BCH’s psychiatric ward and all treatment for her disease was stopped. She was held there and at another facility for 16 months, during which time she was in constant pain and her health declined to the point that the girl — who was in competitive ice skating before her incarceration at BCH — was bound to a wheelchair and unable to use the bathroom without assistance. When Marty Gottesfeld — a senior systems engineer with extensive knowledge of computer networks — heard of Justina’s case, he decided to do something about it. BCH had been able to weather the storm of bad press and appeared to have enough pull to avoid being investigated, so Gottesfeld — who was an activist working to expose the “troubled teen industry” — decided to take a different approach. As this writer wrote in a previous article: When Justina Pelletier’s parents took the sick teenager to Boston Children’s Hospital in February 2013, they had no idea the trip would result in a nightmare: the medical kidnapping of their daughter. They also had no idea that a man they had never met would later risk his own freedom to help Justina gain hers. That man — Marty Gottesfeld — believed he needed to act to save Justina’s life. So as a senior systems engineer, he decided to apply his knowledge of computer systems to hit the hospital where it would hurt the most: On April 20, 2014, he knocked them off the Internet during a major fundraising drive. As that article explains, investigators looking into the attack homed in on Gottesfeld because of a video he had posted on YouTube calling attention to Justina’s plight and imploring viewers to do all in their power to “save Justina’s life.” Using the video (which should reasonably be protected by the First Amendment), investigators filed for and received a “Tap and Trace” order to get records related to Gottesfeld’s Internet traffic. Based on the information gathered by executing that order, investigators filed for and received a search warrant for Gottesfeld’s home. Set aside for the moment that the affidavit for the search warrant is rife with errors, misstatements, exaggerations, and outright falsehoods — the main point is that the “judge” (she is actually a federal magistrate) who signed off on the search warrant has direct ties to BCH and its parent organization, Harvard University. Magistrate Marianne Bowler is married to Dr. Marc Pfeffer, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, which oversees BCH and was herself employed as a research assistant in biochemistry at Harvard Medical School prior to starting her legal career. In fact, Bowler was aware — assuming she actually read the affidavit for the search warrant before signing off on it — that the case was a conflict of interest for her, since FBI Special Agent Michael Tunick made the connection to Harvard explicit in the document. In paragraph 8, Tunick wrote: The incoming traffic resulted in significant disruptions to the BCH website and additional disruption to the network on which BCH and other Harvard University-affiliated hospitals communicate. In a statement provided to The New American in April, Gottesfeld wrote, “Magistrate [Marianne] Bowler's deep personal connection to Harvard Medical School and therefore its affiliated pediatric teaching hospital, Boston Children's call into question every aspect of her involvement with her case.” He added, “From her original approval of the search warrant for my residence to her five month delay in issuing a bail finding to my detention over the last 14 months. I am deeply concerned about her ability to remain impartial.” The affidavit for the search warrant — showing that Bowler knew about the connection between BCH and Harvard — seems to bear out Gottesfeld’s claims about Bowler's lack of “ability to remain impartial.” But what of his claims that he is the victim of persecution by prosecution? Well, it turns out that Bowler connections to Gottesfeld’s case run deep and wide. For instance, the search warrant affidavit signed by her also mentions Wayside Youth and Family Support Network (the BCH-affiliated facility to which Justina was transferred after months at BCH). Paragraph 27 says: Since the attack against BHC in April 2014, the FBI has learned of of other DDOS [distributed denial of service] attacks against entities associated with BCH, the Justina Pelletier custody battle, and the troubled teen industry. Additional victims include: NSTAR (which has a relationship with BCH), Wayside Youth and Family Support Network, Judge Rotenburg Educational Center, Greatschools.org, Sorenson’s Ranch, and Logan River Academy. These victims all experienced similar attacks. And here is where Bowler’s next big conflict of interest comes into play. Because Bowler is an emeritus member of the Board of Directors of The Boston Foundation, which raises money for Wayside Youth and Family Support Network. She is listed as such on page 18 of this report. It is not every day that a federal magistrate is given the opportunity to abuse her power by bringing the full weight of her bench against someone who is accused of attacking something near and dear to her. When that does happen, she is supposed to recuse herself. In fact, procedure requires it. And yet, Bowler, who worked for Harvard, is married to a Harvard professor, and is a director emeritus of a foundation that raises money for Wayside Youth and Family Support Network not only signed off on the search warrant (with an affidavit listing Harvard and Wayside as victims of attacks), but continued to preside over the case and has denied Gottesfeld bail though he has been in prison awaiting trial since February 2016. To put that in perspective, Marty Gottesfeld has already been in prison longer that Justina Pelletier was locked away in “medical prison.” Considering that Bowler came under fire when she bent over backward to make sure Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev knew his rights (which resulted in his refusing to continue talking to investigators), and ordered the release of his friend, Robel Phillipos — who was accused of lying to investigators — on $100,000 bond, on the conditions that he remain in his mother's home and wear an electronic monitoring bracelet, her handling of Gottesfeld’s case smells of a personal vendetta. Her allegiance appears divided between justice and Harvard with justice getting the short end of the stick. Granted, she was right to make sure Tsarnaev was aware of his rights and she had the legal authority to release Phillipos on bail. But given the difference in the way she has handled the Gottesfeld case, it is clear that he is right to be “deeply concerned about her ability to remain impartial.” It appears that Gottesfeld’s rights would be better protected by Bowler if he were a terrorist. At least then, he’d probably be out on bail and home with his wife. America does not need those who abuse power to sit in places of power. Magistrate Marianne Bowler needs to be removed from this case — if not the bench. More information about Marty Gottesfeld and his defense can be found at www.freemartyg.com. (HEAL Supports Martin Gottesfeld and the #FreeMartyG campaign.)  Source: https://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/crime/item/27386-bias-on-the-bench-magistrate-in-children-s-hospital-hacking-case-has-financial-conflicts-of-interest
Albany woman gets probation for neglect at Farm Home that led to suicide LILLIAN SCHROCK Corvallis Gazette-Times Lillian Schrock Nov 15, 2017 Updated 20 hrs ago 0 Facebook Twitter Email Buy Now Amanda Jayne Brown, right, appearing at her arraignment hearing April 20 in Benton County Circuit Court. Brown pleaded no contest Tuesday to a charge of second-degree criminal mistreatment in connection to the suicide of a 15-year-old boy at the Children's Farm Home last year. The residential psychiatric treatment center is owned and operated by Trillium Family Services. Anibal Ortiz, Mid-Valley Media Facebook Twitter Email Print Save A 21-year-old Albany woman will spend six months on probation for her connection to the death of a 15-year-old boy last year at a residential mental health facility near Corvallis, a Benton County Circuit Court judge decided Tuesday. Amanda Jayne Brown allegedly neglected a 15-year-old boy who was known to be suicidal while working at the Children’s Farm Home last year, according to an investigative report by the Benton County Sheriff’s Office. The boy attempted suicide Aug. 15, 2016, and died the following day at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, the report states. The Farm Home, located at 4455 NE Highway 20, is a treatment facility for young people operated by Trillium Family Services. Brown entered a no contest plea to second-degree criminal mistreatment, a misdemeanor. With Judge David Connell’s approval, Brown entered into a diversion program, meaning her case will be dismissed if she successfully completes probation. According to her diversion contract, Brown is required to complete 80 hours of community service for a nonprofit organization and make a $1,000 donation to a nonprofit dedicated to suicide prevention. She must also write a letter of apology that acknowledges the loss of the victim and attempts to demonstrate empathy, the contract states. Brown is not to be employed or perform volunteer work regarding the care of the elderly, youth or dependent persons, according to the contract. She should also have no contact with the parents or grandparents of the victim, unless the family members ask the court to allow contact, the contract states. Should Brown fail to complete these terms, she could be sentenced to up to one year in jail, according to the contract. Brown was represented in court by Salem attorney Jon Weiner. Advertisement Play Current Time 0:00 / Duration Time 0:00 Remaining Time -0:00 Stream TypeLIVE Loaded: 0% Progress: 0% 00:00 Fullscreen 00:00 Unmute Playback Rate 1 Subtitles subtitles off Captions captions off Chapters Chapters When reached for comment Wednesday, Trillium Family Services President Jamie Vandergon declined comment. An indictment was filed against Brown on March 17, alleging Brown had responsibility for the victim and that she “did unlawfully and with criminal negligence withhold necessary and adequate medical attention or physical care” from the young man. She was cited in lieu of arrest on March 26. “The defendant had reason to know the victim was suicidal,” Benton County Chief Deputy District Attorney Ryan Joslin said during Brown’s April 20 arraignment. According to the Sheriff’s Office report, deputies responded about 9:20 p.m. Aug. 15, 2016, to a building on the Farm Home campus and found employees attempting to resuscitate the boy. Brown told deputies the victim had used razors to cut himself in the past. She said he also made a statement to her that evening about wanting to die, the report states. She said the victim went to take a shower, and after about 40 minutes she realized he was still in the shower, according to the report. When the boy did not respond, Brown contacted a supervisor, she told deputies. They discovered the boy had hanged himself from a bathroom stall, the report states. She said they performed CPR on the boy until medics arrived. The report states it is the Farm Home’s practice to check on a person using the bathroom after 15 minutes. Brown told the deputies she had worked at the Farm Home for 10 months, according to the report. Lillian Schrock covers public safety for the Gazette-Times. She may be reached at 541-758-9548 or lillian.schrock@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter at @LillieSchrock.  Source: http://democratherald.com/news/local/albany-woman-gets-probation-for-neglect-at-farm-home-that/article_c666dcc2-54c1-5be3-97f4-5c68cca9c5d5.html
Disturbing allegations against psychologist at Vt. treatment center By Jennifer Costa |  Posted: Fri 6:35 PM, Nov 17, 2017  |  Updated: Sat 12:13 AM, Nov 18, 2017 MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) Disturbing allegations about the clinical director at a now-defunct drug treatment center. Investigative Reporter Jennifer Costa got her hands on documents that outline a disturbing pattern of intimidation and sexual harassment. The documents show psychologist Charles Sprague Simonds is charged with 11 professional conduct violations during his time at the Maple Leaf Treatment Center. His license to practice is now in jeopardy. Maple Leaf has had its share of problems this year, from allegations of poor care and understaffing to a sudden closure and a Medicaid fraud investigation. "This is a program that's been around for 50 years and to see it go down so quickly like this, it's really tragic," then-Vermont Deputy Health Commissioner Barbara Cimaglio said in February. Now, the secretary of state's Office of Professional Regulation has slapped the facility's clinical director with troubling violations. Documents allege during Charles Sprague Simonds' 10 months at Maple Leaf, he created a "hostile work and treatment environment" through a pattern of disturbing conduct. Simonds is accused making comments about female patients, calling them "whores" or saying they look "sexy" and asking inappropriate details about their sex lives. Staff members allege he showed young women favoritism, made promises about drug treatment and bypassed waiting lists to get them help ahead of others. He's accused of yelling and physically intimidating patients. Some refused to file complaints fearing he would pull their treatment opportunities. Staffers go on to paint a nasty picture of their work environment, telling the state Simonds routinely threatened, cursed and yelled at them, calling them derogatory names like "retarded," "monkeys," "fat and lazy," and threatening to fire them at will while sexually harassing female subordinates. Co-workers claim Simonds banned them from referring residential patients to facilities closer to their homes, instructed them to alter referrals to keep them in the Maple Leaf system and fired a clinician who refused to follow these orders. He is also accused of telling staff members to lie to the state about staffing to maintain funding and of directing clinicians to keep patients longer than necessary to drum up revenue. WCAX News has confirmed that after Maple Leaf closed, Simonds was hired by the state in October to work with children at the Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center as the clinical chief. He was fired Wednesday. Woodside officials say they knew about troubles at Maple Leaf but tell us they were unaware of any allegations against Simonds. They say they called his previous employers and references before hiring him. Simonds has 20 days to respond to the secretary of state's allegations. We reached out to his lawyer but have not heard back. If a licensing review board decides the state has proven its case of unprofessional conduct, Simond's discipline could range from a reprimand to a revocation of his license.  Source: http://www.wcax.com/content/news/Disturbing-allegations-against-psychologist-at-Vt-treatment-center-458319673.html
Counsellor charged with assault at Oakville group home News 02:30 PM by David Lea Oakville Beaver Share - Oakville Beaver file photo A residential counsellor from the Central West Specialized Developmental Services group home in Oakville has been charged with assaulting one of the residents. In September, Halton police began investigating following reports of an assault at the 53 Bond St. facility. The victim, a resident of the group home, received minor injuries. On Monday, Nov. 20, police arrested and charged Edobor Elaiho, 28, of Brampton with assault. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Det. Const. Tim Nichols of the Oakville Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905-825-4747 ext. 2214, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.ca or by texting “Tip201” with the message to 274637 (crimes).  Source: https://www.insidehalton.com/news-story/7936088-counsellor-charged-with-assault-at-oakville-group-home/
Mother of teen who died at DJJ wilderness camp files wrongful death lawsuit By Jennifer Berry Hawes jhawes@postandcourier.com Jennifer Hawes Nov 21, 2017 Updated 22 hrs ago (0) Facebook Twitter Email Buy Now Sheila Seagers and Shadeana Seagers, grandmother and mother of Del'Quan, embrace a photo of the 16-year-old who died at AMIkids Sand Hills two years ago. His family has been fighting to convince authorities that foul play was involved and now have filed a lawsuit against the camp and others. File/Staff Buy Now Lolita Gray, executive director of AMIkids Sand Hills, is one of five camp employees named in a wrongful death lawsuit against the camp. File/Staff prev next Facebook Twitter Email Print Save The mother of a teenager who died at a juvenile justice wilderness camp in 2015 filed a wrongful death lawsuit Tuesday against the private company that runs it, alleging her son lay dying as its staff made three internal calls before summoning 911 or starting CPR. The 67-page complaint contends that after Del’Quan Seagers suddenly collapsed unresponsive in his dorm at AMIkids Sand Hills, a remote outpost in Patrick, staff took an unreasonable length of time to render him aid and were ill-trained to provide it. “These calls, in conjunction with other failures … substantially delayed emergency medical care to Mr. Seagers, causing and/or contributing to his death,” according to the lawsuit filed by attorney Justin Bamberg. The boy’s mother, Shadeana Seagers, is suing the state Department of Juvenile Justice and AMIkids, a private Florida-based nonprofit that runs six DJJ wilderness camps across South Carolina that house low-level youthful offenders. Neither immediately responded to a request for comment. The lawsuit comes on the heels of a Post and Courier investigation published last month that found a web of secrecy surrounds incidents at the camps, including Del'Quan's death, making it almost impossible for the public to get answers about fatalities and assaults that occur on DJJ’s watch.  DJJ officials have steadfastly supported AMIkids and defended the camps as necessary alternatives to sending youth to the detention center in Columbia. AMIkids said its staff followed procedures properly in handling Del'Quan's death. The lawsuit also names five Sand Hills employees, including Executive Director Lolita Gray. It contends that, before Del'Quan's death, Gray had directed camp staff to call her before summoning first responders, “focusing on themselves, their job security, and Defendants’ reputation and financial interests.”  The complaint, filed in Chesterfield County, alleges: wrongful death, civil rights violations, gross negligence, corporate negligence, fraud and misrepresentation, and violation of the state Unfair Trade Practices Act. It seeks actual and punitive damages. "I just want justice for my son's death," Seagers said told the newspaper. +4  Buy Now AMIkids Sand Hills is a remote DJJ wilderness camp in Patrick that houses low-level offenders. File/Staff Death at a camp Del’Quan lived in Ladson when he was arrested for shoplifting candy and then got sent to Sand Hills for violating probation. He'd skipped school and didn't follow curfew.  Five weeks later, he died. Authorities told his mother the cause of death was asthma, but she didn’t believe it. Seagers has been trying since then to convince authorities that Del'Quan was assaulted before he died. "They took him away from me like no one loved him and swept him under the rug like he was nothing," she said. One teen who was there when Del'Quan died told a friend on Facebook that the teen had been punched in the chest. Another boy told a camp supervisor that he too had witnessed Del’Quan getting punched, while the employee supervising them was in the room. "After asking the other juveniles to stop, decedent was punched multiple times again with great force, at which point he curled over in pain," the lawsuit says.  +4  Del'Quan Seagers was 16 years old when he died at one of South Carolina's wilderness camps after he violated probation for stealing candy. Provided Del'Quan was deprived of his constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment when the dorm's staff member, Anthony Cue, watched the assault and then failed to perform CPR, demonstrating "deliberate indifference," the complaint says. Cue told his supervisors that he didn't see Del'Quan fall in the other room just after 9:30 p.m. After hearing a commotion, another teen found him on the floor unresponsive. Cue called Rattler Burch, the shift’s supervisor, who then called the camp’s treatment director, director of operations and executive director, according to a report Gray filed with DJJ. Another report she signed said that Burch called LaKenya Cassidy, the treatment director, at 9:35 p.m. and Gray at 9:40 p.m. Burch called 911 at 9:38 p.m.  “We have a student that’s unresponsive right now,” he told the operator. After a teen told Burch that he thought Del’Quan was dead, Burch hung up and returned to the dorm. Six minutes after the first call was made, another employee dialed 911 from his cell phone from beside Del'Quan.  “The kid is passed out. Look like he’s not breathing or something,” he said. Someone was doing CPR, he added, and had gotten the “little things you shock with.” In the background, Burch performed CPR while directing someone to work the camp’s defibrillator. Del'Quan was pronounced dead at a hospital. +4  Buy Now Shadeana Seagers looks down at a tattoo of her son Del'Quan. File/Staff Reports of violence The lawsuit alleges myriad problems with violence at the wilderness camps, including an assault at AMIkids White Pines in the Upstate that left multiple staff members, including the executive director, charged with unlawful neglect of a child for roughing up a teen and then falsifying information about it. At Sand Hills, one staff member complained to AMIkids that “students are one riot away" from taking over the camp. Another employee sent AMIkids an anonymous letter complaining that a co-worker had directed a group of teens to assault a fellow youth, the lawsuit says. Another worker allegedly stabbed a juvenile with a car key after the youth took a pen from him. "The incident went unreported until a parent of the juvenile found out, saw the puncture wounds, and filed a formal complaint with the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office," the lawsuit says. Meanwhile, the two-year anniversary of Del’Quan’s death approaches on Saturday. Seagers is planning a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. that night at Sunset Memorial Gardens in North Charleston, where her oldest child is buried.  Source: http://www.postandcourier.com/news/mother-of-teen-who-died-at-djj-wilderness-camp-files/article_ac0d699c-ce3d-11e7-bc1f-d7e0f8d5421e.html
Teenager dies after being found unresponsive at behavioral center in Virginia - The Washington Post Teenager dies after being found unresponsive at behavioral center in Virginia By Ellie Silverman By Ellie Silverman Public Safety November 24 at 2:17 PM Follow @esilverman11 Authorities are investigating the death of a teenager who was reported to be unresponsive and not breathing at a behavioral treatment center in Northern Virginia. Officials responded at 3:37 p.m. Sunday to a call at North Spring Behavioral Healthcare on Victory Lane in Leesburg, Va., according to Kraig Troxell, a spokesman for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. A spokesman for the facility could not be reached for comment. The teenager was taken to a hospital where he later died. Troxell did not provide the youth’s exact age or other details, citing the ongoing investigation. The cause of death is pending the results of an autopsy. A person can be admitted to North Spring Behavioral Healthcare if he or she meets certain criteria for the inpatient acute psychiatric facility, various residential treatment center programs, partial hospitalization or substance abuse intensive outpatient, according to the company’s website. The organization lists its goal as providing “services that will enable the individual to return to a healthy, productive role within his or her family, school, work and community as quickly as possible, utilizing the least restrictive means of treatment while collaborating with community resources and support systems.”  Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/teenager-dies-after-reported-unresponsive-at-behavioral-center-in-virginia/2017/11/24/f767967a-d13e-11e7-a1a3-0d1e45a6de3d_story.html?utm_term=.dc32dc5f786f
Police charge group home caregiver with assaulting disabled woman Report says worked put hands on victim's neck Adam Walser 8:04 PM, Nov 28, 2017 11:15 AM, Nov 29, 2017 Share Article x Police say an employee of a group home in St. Petersburg for people with disabilities assaulted a client. Police say an employee of a group home in St. Petersburg for people with disabilities assaulted a client. ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Police say an employee of a group home for people with disabilities assaulted a client. A police report says other employees of PARC intervened and pulled the caregiver off the victim, then called authorities. PARC’s CEO calls the incident appalling and says it doesn’t reflect on the good work the non-profit does in the community. “She hurt me. She tried to get at my neck,” said Kelly Hunnicutt, in a video recorded by her sister Erin Hunnicutt.   60-year-old Bonnie Burrell was charged with abusing a disabled person last week after police said Burrell placed both hands on Kelly's neck and throat and pushed her. Kelly has cerebral palsy and an intellectual developmental disability. She has lived at the non-profit PARC St. Petersburg group home since she was 9 years old. “It’s wrong. My sister’s nothing but nice to these people and to take advantage of her like that. You shouldn’t be putting your hands on anybody,” said Erin, who is Kelly’s legal guardian. She says she has complained multiple times after she saw signs her sister was injured. Erin also said in recent years, she’s photographed cut, bruises and long toenails on her sister. The state investigated Erin’s prior complaints, but found no evidence of wrongdoing. “This doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If you have one event that can be an accident, but if you have several events, I think you have to look at it find out what they’re doing wrong,” said attorney James Ragano, who represents the Hunnicutt family.   PARC’s CEO Karen Higgins declined an on-camera interview, but said Burrell passed a background check and had extensive training. Burrell was immediately fired. Higgins said PARC has provided services to the community for more than 63 years and currently serves more than 800 clients. Erin says she hopes there won’t be future issues for her sister. “They’re there to get good care and be taken care of. And it should be a safe place they can trust. If she’s there getting abuse, it’s not right, just because they think she can’t speak up,” said Erin. We called Burrell to try to get her side of the story, but she declined to comment. If you have a story you’d like the I-Team to investigate, contact us at adam@abcactionnews.com. Source: http://www.abcactionnews.com/news/local-news/i-team-investigates/police-charge-group-home-caregiver-with-assaulting-disabled-woman
Trial begins for LA-area officer accused of abuse at Camp SLO  By Chris McGuinness The trial of a Huntington Park police officer accused of abusing children at a disciplinary youth boot camp in 2015 began in SLO County Superior Court this week. click to enlarge File Photo OFFICER ON TRIAL Huntington Park Police Department officer Marissa Larios is on trial in SLO County court for allegedly abusing children at a disciplinary boot camp held at Camp SLO in 2015. Jury selection for the trial of Marissa Elizabeth Larios, 36, began on Nov. 27. Larios faces three misdemeanor charges in connection with her role at the Leadership Empowerment and Discipline (LEAD) boot camp, a program for at-risk youth run by the Huntington Park and South Gate police departments for children ages 11 through 17 and held at Camp San Luis Obispo between May 17 and 24. According to SLO County prosecutors, Larios allegedly participated in the physical abuse of some of the participants in the program along with South Gate Police Department officers Edgar Yovany Gomez, 35, and Carlos Manuel Gomez-Marquez, 32. According to court documents filed in the case, Larios allegedly choked and hit a female cadet under her supervision and placed another in handcuffs for lengthy periods of time. None of the alleged victims were from San Luis Obispo County, according to investigators. Larios is the only one of the three officers to take her case to a jury trial. In August, Gomez and Gomez-Marquez, who are brothers, were sentenced to 60 days in county jail and four years probation after pleading no contest to some of the charges against them. The brothers were accused by multiple victims of various abuses, including punching the children repeatedly, stomping on their hands, and locking them in a dark closet when they broke the rules. "The case against Ms. Larios is weak by comparison, because there is ample evidence to show uses of force she allegedly employed were both within policy and completely justified," Larios' attorney wrote in a December 2016 motion to sever Larios' case from the brothers. The trial is expected to take about two weeks. Δ  Source: https://www.newtimesslo.com/sanluisobispo/trial-begins-for-la-area-officer-accused-of-abuse-at-camp-slo/Content?oid=3865051
Jackson County jail director resigns amid growing problems at downtown KC facility By Mike Hendricks mhendricks@kcstar.com LinkedIn Google+ Pinterest Reddit Print Order Reprint of this Story December 01, 2017 02:56 PM UPDATED December 01, 2017 05:03 PM Joe Piccinini inherited leadership of the troubled Jackson County jail amid an FBI investigation into guards using excessive force on prisoners. Now, more than two years later, with other troubles mounting and the county’s elected leaders squabbling over the jail’s future, Piccinini has resigned his six-figure job as director of corrections. “He came in at a tough time,” County Executive Frank White said in announcing the leadership change at a Friday afternoon news conference. Piccinini tendered his resignation the day before, White said, and both agreed that new management was needed. Piccinini’s deputy, Diana Turner, will serve as acting director. Unlike Piccinini, she has corrections experience, a requirement for the new permanent director. White said a nationwide search will begin next week. Piccinini had weathered increasing criticism from county legislators alarmed at news of continuing violence and security breaches at the Jackson County Detention Center and adjoining Regional Correctional Center. As recently as Tuesday’s legislative meeting, legislator Crystal Williams challenged White to make a change at the top in light of the most recent assault on a guard on Thanksgiving Eve. “Why do you have the same management team in place running that jail, when incident after incident after incident occurs?” she asked. White denied a change was necessary. “I have complete confidence in the people we have over there,” he said at the time. Exactly 72 hours later, White announced that Piccinini was stepping down, calling him “a man of integrity, compassion and respect.” He said the 57-year-old Piccinini didn’t “want to be a distraction because his priority is to fix the problem and ensure our corrections facility reaches the level of excellence our staff, inmates and community deserve.” Like his predecessor, Ken Conlee, Piccinini came to the job without prior experience running a jail. Both men had completed long careers in law enforcement. Before joining the county corrections department, both had been chief of the Lee’s Summit Police Department. Piccinini replaced Conlee as chief when Conlee took the county job in 2007, then came to work as Conlee’s top assistant in 2014 when Piccinini, too, retired from the police force. Former Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders made him acting director the following year, when Conlee stepped aside with health problems in 2015, and then got the job on a permanent basis. His 2016 employment agreement guaranteed him a base annual salary of $110,500 and an $800-a-month car allowance. It calls for no severance if he quits the job and six months’ pay if he is let go without cause. During his tenure, he oversaw millions of dollars of improvement projects to fix broken cell doors and other renovations, while trying to improve working conditions for corrections officers. But without the benefit of funds to increase guard pay to market levels, he was never able to hire enough staff to run the facility and security suffered. Guards and inmates alike fell victim to violent assaults that made headlines and brought pressure from constituents on county legislators to fix the problem. County officials are now considering whether to build a new jail, but Piccinini will not be the man running it. Turner was named deputy director in September after three years of running the 70-bed juvenile detention and residential treatment centers for Jackson County Family Court. Prior to that, Turner worked with prisoners at halfway houses in Kansas City and for 15 years at the Missouri Department of Corrections, according to her resume. Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article187592393.html#storylink=cpy 
Leader of 'Cult-Like' Boarding School Is Arrested In Late 1980s Cold Case Death Of Toddler Crime 11:36 AM PST, December 2, 2017 - Inside Edition Staff (Cobb County Ga. Sheriff's Office) (Cobb County Sheriff's Office) A Florida woman who once led a religious boarding school described by local authorities as "cult-like" has been arrested in the 1980s death of young boy. Anna Elizabeth Young was arrested near Atlanta Friday according to Alachua County Sheriff’s spokesman Art Forgey. Now 75, Young is charged with torturing and withholding food from Emon Harper, who was 2 or 3 years old at the time, leading to his death. According to authorities, Young operated the House of Prayer for All People near Gainesville from about 1985 to 1995. WCBJ reports that some children who "Mother Anna" once had in her charge came forward as adults to describe the alleged abuse to authorities. Young was convicted in 2001 of one prior abuse after she bathed a child in a tub full of chemicals. Now after a year-long investigation involving the Alachua County Sheriff's Office Cold Case Unit and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Young is facing new charges. And investigators say there could be more to follow. "The arrest is in no means going to close this case, because there is so much more and so many more potential victims and witnesses," Forgey said. With the help of her former boarding students, authorities think there will be other charges. "Witnesses came forward from the House of Prayer alleging brutality and even some children being murdered," Forgey said. Young was arrested Thursday night and is facing a charge of premeditated first degree homicide-murder of a child, for which she was indicted by a grand jury this week. It is not clear if she has an attorney.  Source: http://www.insideedition.com/leader-cult-boarding-school-arrested-late-1980s-cold-case-death-toddler-38609
The Culture of Not Caring in Child Welfare 12/04/2017 01:02 pm ET Jovens Chevalier 150 Foster youth bare the brunt of almost every negative social determinant you can imagine. We are underemployed, undereducated, over-incarcerated, and at higher risk for any-and-every-thing that makes life more difficult. Every piece of empirical evidence available to us paints this picture very clearly. Yet amongst those who work in the space of child welfare, and more broadly youth homelessness, there exists a shocking culture of complacency that at best can be characterized as extreme incompetence, and at worst, potentially life-threatening negligence. I witnessed this first hand over the summer of 2017. I came into the season with a lot of promise. I had been struggling with my mental health, and it’s deteriorating effects on my stability since leaving an abusive relationship the year prior. In May of 2017, I was due to begin a new job as a career civil servant at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the Department of Health Human Services. It was an opportunity that had come to me after working closely with the True Colors Fund, an organization whose mission is to end LGBTQ youth homelessness. Sadly, just two days after I began my new job, I was terminated. As a result of the federal hiring freeze President Donald Trump ordered shortly after his inauguration earlier in the year, funding for the position was suddenly cut. Even though I had been given a final offer of employment, moved everything I owned from New York City to Washington, D.C., and was literally working on the job for two whole days — the agency had every right to terminate me. All federal employees begin their careers with a 1-2 year probationary period. There was nothing I could do to fight it. I emerged in the aftermath saddled with unnecessary relocation expenses, depleted savings, little resources, and the shallow support system typical of a foster care alum. Sadly, I became homeless again almost immediately, and my mental health suffered as a result. One of the first things I did was reach out to the True Colors Fund to ask for help. They had, after all, encouraged me to pursue this opportunity. I was shocked at how little support I received from them. Outside of sending me a few job postings I didn’t qualify for, the True Colors Fund did almost nothing to help me. At one point, while I was living in my car, I reached out to them and explained how precarious my living situation had become, and that I had little access to resources outside of what I was able to accumulate through the street economy. They responded by offering to look over my resume. I sent it to them, hoping this would be the tip of a lifeline. I never heard back. Daniella Carter Daniella Carter (left) and Kristopher Sharp (right) pose for a selfie before co-hosting the True Colors Fund annual “State of Out Youth” at the 2014 40toNone Summit in Houston, TX. I didn’t realize the extent of the problem until fellow child welfare advocate Daniella Carter, a trans woman of color who grew up in foster care and experienced homelessness as a young adult, told me she too had reached out to the True Colors Fund to seek help after becoming homeless again. Even though the True Colors Fund often references the very real dangers trans youth face while experiencing homelessness, like myself, Daniella received little support from them. After meeting with staff from the True Colors Fund twice to seek help, she had to set up an emergency GoFundMe account to get back into safe and stable housing — something she is still struggling to make a reality. What is most disturbing about mine and Daniella’s interactions with the True Colors Fund is that they have used our storied upbringing as children who grew up in foster care, and our lived experiences surviving youth homelessness in almost all aspects of their work from marketing, to fundraising, to advocacy since 2014. Like many organizations in the profession of child welfare, they took from us, commodified our traumas, and willfully used our lived experiences when it was convenient for them. Yet as we struggled to navigate homelessness, new traumas that manifest from experiencing repeated housing instability, and the potential dangers of the street economy, the True Colors Fund seemingly could not be bothered with us. Screenshots taken from the True Colors Fund website in October of 2017 soliciting donations with images and quotes from Daniella Carter (left) and Kristopher Sharp (right). In early October, a fellow advocate and foster care alum Rusty Pretz committed suicide after a long battle with depression and mental health. When I heard about Rusty’s story, which struck so close to home with what both I and Daniella had been experiencing, I knew that I had to speak up and share mine. For those who work in child welfare, it is no secret that system involved youth are at greater risk of developing mental illness and contemplating suicide. One study suggests that young adults who had been in foster care were nearly four times more likely to have attempted suicide than their peers. In my personal struggle over the summer, I had some dark moments in which I too thought deeply about suicide. I have often wondered if Rusty also tried to seek help before he decided that suicide was his only way out. Did any of the organizations he worked closely with as an advocate step in to help him navigate the challenges he was experiencing with his mental health? Were there people, organizations, or entities who in whole, or in part, turned him away after using his lived experiences and commodifying his traumas as the True Colors Fund did to both Daniella and me? Young people who grow up in foster care almost always leave with little to no systems of support — family, friends, community, etc. So then where was Rusty even supposed to go to seek help? Even more, where were Daniella and I supposed to go? If not to those who have been most intimately involved in our lives, our stories, and our experiences, then to whom? The culture of complacency and the commodification of childhood traumas within the child welfare profession needs to be examined. It is without question, wrong for any organization, person, or entity to use the lived experiences of system involved youth to profit and advance in one breath, and in the next, pretend as if the resources do not exist to help us when we are in crisis. Clearly, it is also paramount that we engage in a deeper conversation about how we are addressing the mental health needs of former foster youth. Lives are on the line every day, and with such high stakes, our actions have to be intentional, and our errors have to be few and far in-between. This story is not about the True Colors Fund or any other entity in particular. Rather, it is about the questionable patterns and practices that have become the norm in the world of child welfare. In using our compelling life traumas and stories to solicit donations, and grow their organizations, but lacking the will or desire to help us when we falter, one can only begin to feel as though some within this delicate space have lost sight of their missions, and the people they set out to help to begin with. Source: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-culture-of-not-caring-in-child-welfare_us_5a2451f8e4b04dacbc9bd86f  [HEAL Note: Whether a child is placed in a residential school or program by government agencies or their own parents, the damage is the same.  Children and youth need a real family that is committed to the family.  Fix your problems and don't subject youth to unlawful imprisonment and conditions that exacerbate the problems they may be exhibiting.]
Report: Students regularly go missing from school for troubled teens Posted: Dec 07, 2017 11:51 AM PST Updated: Dec 07, 2017 5:17 PM PST Students regularly go missing from school for troubled teens The New York Times reports that nearly every day, a teenager is missing from Hawthorne Cedar Knolls. More Videos Team of the Week: Mamaroneck HS girls basketball Car crashes through living room of Spring Valley home Report: Students regularly go missing from school for troubled teens Franken announces resignation from Senate amid allegations School bus plows into Bedford telephone pole Congress seems set to avert weekend government shutdown California wind, and fire danger, hits unprecedented high Westchester/Hudson Valley Sportscast, HAWTHORNE - Mount Pleasant Town Supervisor Carl Fugenzi is joining a growing list of elected officials to call for big changes at Hawthorne Cedar Knolls. The mounting pressure comes after an explosive report in the New York Times that nearly every day, a teenager is missing from the campus. The facility is a rehabilitation center for troubled children. State Sen. Terrence Murphy is introducing legislation that would get rid of the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services, the group that runs the organization for troubled children. He says the agency has failed these children, failed their families and failed the communities. A spokesperson for the board released a statement saying in part that their “highest priority is to provide our residents a safe and therapeutic community. Hawthorne Cedar Knolls is not a detention center, and unfortunately short, unauthorized departures are a common coping mechanism for traumatized youth, which we work with them to understand and overcome." Murphy says his bill has bipartisan support. He says he hopes it will be debated in the Legislature next year.
How Christian Reform Schools Get Away with Brutal Child Abuse ByNile Cappelloillustrated byLia Kantrowitz Dec 5 2017, 10:58pm Thanks to the legacy of a Texas pastor named Lester Roloff—and a glaring lack of oversight from state and local authorities—religious "schools" for troubled teens often operate with impunity. Art by Lia Kantrowitz SHARE TWEET Kimi Cook was 15 years old when she arrived at Lester Roloff’s Rebekah Home for Girls in Corpus Christi, Texas. Eager to end the teenager’s relationship with an older boyfriend, her parents pitched the place as an accelerated boarding school. Cook—who had previously done well on tests despite cutting classes at her San Antonio public school—eventually agreed to a month-long trial period. Within hours of arriving, Cook learned she was no longer allowed to wear jeans, listen to rock music, or use tampons. She would also be required to attend church daily, memorize and chant from the Bible, and scrub her room early each morning. Disobedience was met with strict punishment ranging from revoked snack privileges to receiving “licks” with a wooden paddle, being put in an isolated closet, or being forced to kneel on linoleum for hours on end. When she was allowed phone calls, Cook pleaded with her family to save her from what she remembered describing as a “jail” and “prison camp.” But three months in, she learned that no help was coming. As Cook recalled, a relative “explained to me that by signing the admittance paper, I had signed myself over into the care of the Roloff homes.” By the time Cook started there, in 1983, the Southern Baptist Rebekah Home for Girls had already been the subject of state investigations spanning the previous decade, instigated in part by parents who witnessed a girl being whipped at the facility. In fact, Roloff had already temporarily closed the school—and the other homes he operated in Texas—after being prosecuted by the state on behalf of 16 former Rebekah Home for Girls residents. (Roloff grew even more notorious for exclaiming in court, “Better a pink bottom than a black soul.”) After losing his last Supreme Court appeal in 1978, the Rebekah Home for Girls became the site of the “Christian Alamo,” where religious leaders formed a human chain around the place to defend against attempts to remove girls from Roloff’s care. The issue was eventually “resolved” by Governor Bill Clements, who Roloff himself had campaigned for. With an ally in office—Clements once said the closures amounted to “nitpicking” by his predecessor—Roloff transferred ownership of the homes from Roloff Enterprises to Roloff’s People’s Baptist Church; under this religious auspice, a state court ruled Roloff’s homes could operate without a license. Advertisement Roloff himself died in 1982, but by then he had established a strong tradition of exploiting the religious freedom loophole to shield suspect youth residential facilities from outside scrutiny. Somehow, that same loophole still exists across much of America today. Cook escaped the school she hated when her older brother was killed in a car accident 11 months into her stay. The home was closed again in 1985 following pressure from the state, but reopened yet again in 1999, after Governor George W. Bush introduced religious exemptions for youth residential home regulations. The school operated until 2001, when a supervisor at Rebekah was convicted of unlawful restraint; finally, Texas laws were changed to require licensure for all youth homes—including religious ones. Rebekah closed permanently in 2001, but at least some of its ex-employees helped found the New Beginnings Girls Academy in Missouri. This residence remains in operation despite state investigations into allegations of abuse. (VICE was unable to reach New Beginnings officials in connection with this story.) Though Texas laws were changed amid the Roloff saga, many other state governments around the country lack the legal power to oversee religiously affiliated residential schools. Unlike personal religious exemptions, where an individual might argue that a law requiring, say, medical intervention, vaccination, or anti-discrimination violates his or her religious freedom, these facilities don't need to apply for special treatment. In many states, such exemptions are written directly into the laws meant to regulate residential youth facilities—that is, religious schools are never subject to the rules in the first place. Advertisement “The state passes the law for the regulation of residential facilities, and then they put, within that statute, a religious exemption,” Liz Sepper, a religious liberty expert and law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, told me. “You don’t need to apply, go into court for the exemption. The law never applied." Thus, many states allow religiously affiliated boarding schools to operate without registration, educational standards, background checks, or instructional certifications—even when institutions have long histories of abuse reports alleging Roloff-esque whippings, isolation rooms, and Bible memorization. Preachers from various area churches and supporters of evangelist Lester Roloff, form a barricade around Roloff’s People’s Church near Corpus Christi, Texas, to keep out state officials, June 21, 1979. (AP Photo/Pete Leabo) In 2010, Clayton “Buddy” Maynard’s Heritage Boys Academy in Panama City, Florida, closed following allegations of racial discrimination and severe corporal punishment. When the prosecution lost witnesses in 2011, a criminal case against Maynard was dropped; in 2012, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Maynard was once again housing children at Truth Baptist Church in Panama City. This past May, a GoFoundMe page raised $500 in support of Maynard and the “Maynard Family Children's Home.” Currently, he appears to operate the Truth Baptist Church in Panama City and, according to his Facebook profile, a “Truth for Troubled Youth Ministries.” (VICE was unable to reach Maynard for comment for this story.) The same whack-a-mole pattern of scattershot oversight can be found across much of the country. Bobby Wills’s Bethesda Home for Girls in Mississippi closed in the 1980s following allegations of beatings with wooden boards, with operators moving on to the now closed Mountain Park Baptist Boarding Academy in Missouri. Alabama’s Reclamation Ranch was raided a decade ago following allegations of torture, yet founder Jack Patterson—who, according to his Facebook page, is a proud disciple of Roloff—continues to run an addiction-focused rehabilitation facility under the same name, now associated with Lighthouse Baptist Church. (Patterson has denied allegations of abuse at his facilities.) Yet another Baptist pastor, Michael Palmer, battled legal oversight over multiple decades and across multiple state and country-wide jurisdictions: In 1991, Palmer closed Victory Christian Academy after the state of California pushed for licensure. Advertisement One former student who attended Victory Christian described extended abuse at the school, including something called the “Get Right Room,” a small space where girls were punished with a version of solitary confinement. “You were brain-washed into thinking the abuse was good because the staff and the Lord loved your soul,” recalled Cherie Rife, now a holistic health practitioner in Irvine, California. Alleging that she was singled out for being a lesbian, Rife pointed to the religious justification that loomed above it all: “[Their] Baptist interpretation was used for fear and control and shaming.” Palmer later helped found Genesis by the Sea, a facility located in Baja California that was closed in 2004 by the Mexican government; though the ensuing investigation asserted that claims of abuse were unsubstantiated, the school never reopened. Instead, Palmer redirected his attention to the Florida Panhandle and yet another residential reform home for girls: Lighthouse of Northwest Florida, which he closed in 2013 following an investigation into allegations of rape at the facility. As Newsweek reported, Restoration Youth Academy in Prichard, Alabama, was yet another home operating under a modern incarnation of the Lester Roloff approach until 2012. The facility remained free from oversight until Charles Kennedy, the now retired captain of the Prichard Police Department, received a phone call from the mother of a boy who said he’d been abused at the facility. When I spoke with Kennedy, he recalled what he found at the home: a naked boy locked in a closet, widespread allegations of physical abuse, severe exercise, and sadistic mind games. Staff had even encouraged a suicidal student to shoot himself with a gun he didn’t know wasn’t loaded, Kennedy said. Advertisement Once the cop uncovered the dark history behind Restoration Youth Academy’s instructor William Knott—that his Bethel Boys Academy in Mississippi had been closed after a federal lawsuit alleging abuse—and obtained written statements from the boys, it took four years and reports to multiple local and statewide agencies for anything to be done. By then, Knott and Pastor David Young had closed Restoration Youth Academy and opened another facility in nearby Mobile County, Solid Rock Ministries. It’s a common move by religious leaders who know law enforcement have no way of monitoring the facilities, tracking their leaders, and compiling abuse allegations across jurisdictions, according to Marc Stern, general counsel at the American Jewish Committee and a leading expert on religious legal advocacy. “There’s a strong political tradition in the United States, for better or for worse, that education is a local matter controlled by local officials, and only extraordinary circumstances justify federal control.” After Solid Rock Ministries was subject to its own allegation of abuse, a 2015 police raid found isolation rooms, deplorable conditions, and signs of corporal punishment at the Mobile, Alabama, facility. Earlier this year, Knott, Young, and counselor Aleshia Moffet were convicted and sentenced to 20 years each on aggravated child abuse charges. It was the only instance I could find where operators of religiously affiliated residential schools wrapped up in abuse allegations actually went to prison. Kennedy has since dedicated his career to using that case as a precedent for nationwide reform; in the years following the prosecution of Knott and his accomplices, Kennedy partnered with Alabama state representative Steve McMillan on HB-440. The bill passed this past May and was signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey, a Republican, on July 29. It’s a rare example of increased government regulation of religion in the Trump era—the new law imposes regulations on residential facilities and does not exclude religious institutions. As Kennedy described it, the war he’s waging here is not against religious freedom, but for basic standards of human rights. “[The facilities] can operate here, and we’re not going to charge [them] a nickel,” he said. The new law requires facilities to alert the county Department of Human Resources upon admittance of new students, conduct background checks on employees, accurately describe programming to parents, avoid restraints or abusive punishments, provide medical care, feed the children sanitary and nutritious meals three times daily, allow residents to practice their own religious beliefs, and more. “We’re just saying that if you take children into your care and custody for more than 24 hours, we should know that they are in a safe place,” Kennedy told me. Kennedy, who views this saga as a “national disgrace,” has set his sights on changing laws in Missouri next, and plans to battle for regulation across the country. Though he faces opposition from those eager to exploit the religious freedom loophole, the pattern of abuse begs the question: How does hiding behind the law to abuse children represent Christian ideals? Actually, plenty of Christian leaders say it doesn’t. “Carefully considered partnerships between government institutions and religious institutions can assist the government in meeting one of its highest duties: protecting children,” Jennifer Hawks, associate general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, told me. “Religious freedom does not require—and should not claim to support—exemptions that harm the state’s duty of protecting children.” Kimi Cook has returned to the site of the Rebekah Home for Girls two times since she lived there more than 30 years ago; most recently, she visited with two of her three children this past September on the tail end of Hurricane Harvey. Along the way, she found a clue into her past: a copy of the 1983–1984 yearbook, covering the period during which Cook lived at Rebekah. Upon locating her photo, she was overcome with emotion: “It was not revulsion, it was not upset, or sad, or angry. It was almost like finding a lost piece of myself,” she said. Today, Cook continues to struggle with the trauma inflicted upon her at Rebekah—but hope comes in the form of support from her family, and, now, a chance at finding long-lost friends listed in that yearbook. She’s one of a growing number of survivors of abusive religious reform schools left to their own devices over the course of a long tradition of official neglect. Organizations like HEAL and Fornits offer online record-keeping of abuse allegations against religious youth homes, resources for parents who might be considering these institutions. Advertisement Perhaps most important, they serve as confirmation for people like Cook that they are not alone. Follow Nile Cappello on Twitter.  Source: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/vbzexd/how-christian-reform-schools-get-away-with-brutal-child-abuse
Voucher Schools Championed By Betsy DeVos Can Teach Whatever They Want. Turns Out They Teach Lies. These schools teach creationism, racism and sexism. They’re also taking your tax dollars. By Rebecca Klein 25k 110 PORTLAND, Ore. ― It was late morning in an artsy cafe, the smell of coffee and baked goods sweetening the air, and Ashley Bishop sat at a table, recalling a time when she was taught that most of secular American society was worthy of contempt. Growing up in private evangelical Christian schools, Bishop saw the world in extremes, good and evil, heaven and hell. She was taught that to dance was to sin, that gay people were child molesters and that mental illness was a function of satanic influence. Teachers at her schools talked about slavery as black immigration, and instructors called environmentalists “hippie witches.” Bishop’s family moved around a lot when she was a child, but her family always enrolled her in evangelical schools. So when Bishop left school in 2003 and entered the real world at 17, she felt like she was an alien landing on Planet Earth for the first time. Having been cut off from mainstream society, she felt unequipped to handle the job market and develop secular friendships. Lacking shared cultural and historical references, she spent most of her 20s holed up in her bedroom, suffering from crippling social anxiety. Now, at 31, she has become everything that she was once taught to hate. She shares an apartment with her girlfriend of two years. She sees a therapist and takes medication for depression, a condition born, in part, of her stifling education.   Years later, some of the schools Bishop attended are largely the same, but some have changed in a significant way: Unlike when Bishop was a student, parents are not the only ones paying tuition for these fundamentalist religious schools – so are taxpayers.  Amanda Lucier for HuffPost Ashley Bishop didn’t find out until after she graduated from Christian schools that she was unprepared for a wider world of education. These schools are among thousands in the United States that participate in private school choice programs, which most often come in the form of state-level voucher or tax credit scholarships. Voucher programs offer publicly funded financial aid to parents for private schools. Tax credit programs usually offer individuals or corporations tax credits if they donate to a scholarship granting organization, which in turn offers private school scholarships based on various criteria, including income. President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have openly championed such programs and have encouraged states to embrace school choice, arguing that voucher programs give parents an alternative to low-performing public schools. Currently 14 states and the District of Columbia have voucher programs, and 17 have tax credit programs. DeVos has made it a top priority to push a federal school choice initiative. Many of the private schools that participate in these state-led programs are run by evangelical Christian churches. They are sometimes unaccredited and can teach a curriculum similar to the one Bishop studied ― all with the help of taxpayer dollars.    The textbooks used at all of Bishop’s schools were published by three of the most popular, and most ideologically extreme, Christian textbook companies: Abeka, Bob Jones University Press and Accelerated Christian Education. The ideas in these textbooks often flout widely accepted science and historical fact. But the number of schools using these resources is largely unknown, even in states where they receive support from publicly funded scholarships. No state or federal organization tracks the curriculum being used in private school choice programs. The religious affiliations of schools that participate in these programs are also not always tracked.    That means there are thousands of kids receiving an extremist and ultraconservative education at the expense of taxpayers. Several months ago, HuffPost set out to create a database of every private school in the country that receives taxpayer funding. We also tracked the religious affiliation of each school and looked at how many taught from these evangelical Christian textbooks. HuffPost obtained lists of schools that participate in private school choice programs around the country. We searched for the most up-to-date lists on either a state’s education or revenue department’s website. Several states did not keep a list of which schools participate in choice programs. In those instances, we went directly to the individual scholarship granting organizations in each state.  Our list totaled nearly 8,000 schools across the 25 of 27 states that offer private school choice along with the District of Columbia. (Two states that do not allow religious schools to participate in private school choice programs were excluded from our analysis.) Then we researched the religious affiliations of each school by scouring each school’s website. If a school did not maintain a website, we emailed school representatives and often followed up with a phone call.   Our analysis found that about 75 percent of voucher schools across the country are religious ― usually Christian or Catholic, with about 2 percent identifying as Jewish and 1 percent identifying as Muslim. There were gray areas: At least six schools identified as non-religious but used a curriculum created by the founder of the Church of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard. Since a plurality of schools in these programs (42 percent) are non-Catholic Christian schools, we dove deeply into researching the curriculum of those schools. We searched their websites for information on curriculum sources and sent out emails to school leaders if they did not make their academic plan public. We did not assess Catholic schools, which made up 29 percent of Christian schools, since there is already a large body of research on the outcomes of students who go to these schools. Evangelical Christian schools are newer ― many popped up only a few decades ago – and remain less scrutinized. Indeed, we found many of the non-Catholic Christian schools (32 percent) were using Abeka, Bob Jones or ACE textbooks in at least one subject or grade. We found that Abeka was the most popular textbook source ― used in about 27 percent of non-Catholic Christian schools ― and Accelerated Christian Education was the least popular ― used in about 5 percent of these schools. We could not definitively ascertain the curriculum used by about 2,000 Christian schools, because they did not respond to requests for information. Around 200 Christian schools told us they did not use these three textbook sources.   With taxpayers footing the bill for religious private schools, the separation of church and state, a cornerstone of American democracy, becomes a murky line. So how did it come to be that taxpayers are footing the bill for an evangelical education? Most states have little oversight on the curriculum used in schools that participate in private school choice programs. Some states have zero regulations on the topic. Others require private schools to follow the state’s broad-based content standards but specify little else. (Rhode Island’s stipulations appear the most strict: Curricula in private schools must be submitted and largely equivalent to what is taught in public schools.) Additionally, private schools that participate in these programs are not typically subject to the same accountability and transparency rules as public schools, although rules vary on a state-by-state basis. It is difficult to ascertain exactly how many students use taxpayer funds to attend schools with evangelical curricula, but we do know that over 400,000 students nationwide currently attend school using money from a voucher or tax credit program, according to the education reform group EdChoice. Some states are more transparent than others. In Indiana, about 4,240 students received over $16 million in scholarships to attend schools that use the Abeka or Bob Jones curriculum, according to 2016-2017 figures from the Indiana Department of Education. These numbers could soon grow. DeVos is an advocate of school choice and religious education. While she failed in her first attempt to push a federal private school choice program via the Education Department budget, she has repeatedly said she will not stop trying.  Joshua Roberts / Reuters Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has pushed for a federal school voucher program and tax funding of religious schools. The prospect of giving kids more access to these schools with public money is deeply upsetting to Bishop, who was recently diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of bullying and corporal punishment she experienced as a child. After leaving high school and getting a taste of the outside world, Bishop fell into a deep depression. When she went to job interviews, she had no idea what to say about the education she had received.  What They Learned HuffPost spoke to nearly a dozen former students and teachers at schools that relied on Abeka, Bob Jones and Accelerated Christian Education curricula. Many of these students, who consider themselves no longer religious, reported feeling traumatized by their educational experiences. A number of them communicate with each other via online support groups for survivors of fundamentalist schools, including Bishop. Some say these curriculum sources left them woefully ill-equipped to thrive in a diverse society while instilling in them racist, sexist and intolerant views of the world. Bishop said her fundamentalist education made her wary of people from other religious groups whom her teachers and textbooks had demonized. “Anything that wasn’t Christianity was a strange religion,” said Bishop, who made it a priority to study other religious practices after high school and even spent time with the Hare Krishna. “But even other denominations were evil. Catholicism especially.” Another former student who spoke to HuffPost under the pseudonym Natasha Balzak, was taught at home that all Muslims hate America, she said. Teachers at her Florida school reinforced this idea, telling students to pray for Muslims and other non-believers, like atheists and gay people. “When it comes to hateful ideology and rhetoric, I was taught a lot of things to skew my mind into believing ― I guess you could call it brainwashing,” said Balzak, 27, who is using a pseudonym to protect the identity of family members who are still deeply involved in their church. Balzak recalled that her school, Coral Springs Christian Academy, used a mix of ACE and Abeka materials, but the head of the school said they were not aware of the school ever using ACE and that they currently used only Abeka in lower grades for phonics. The school participates in Florida’s three private-school choice programs and currently enrolls 172 students on these scholarships. It received $554,418 in taxpayer-funded scholarships this year, according to a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Education. A HuffPost analysis of Abeka, Bob Jones and ACE textbooks confirms the recollections of these students. These materials inaccurately portray events in Muslim and Catholic history while perpetuating anti-Semitic stereotypes. The materials speak disparagingly of Native Americans and Native culture. The chart below details some of the inaccurate and biased perspectives in these textbooks compared with the perspective of an academic who studies these issues. See all the schools we could confirm use one of these curriculums in our full dataset. A Bob Jones high school world history textbook portrays Islam as a violent religion and contains a title “Islam and Murder.” In the same textbook, when describing the Catholic Reformation, Catholic leaders are described as failing “to see that the root of their problems was doctrinal error.” When describing the concept of Manifest Destiny, the term used to describe America’s 19th century expansion westward, an ACE textbook referred to the movement essentially as spreading the gospel: “It was considered God’s will that this vastly superior American culture should spread to all corners of the North American continent,” the passage reads. “The benighted Indians would be among the many beneficiaries of God’s provision.” David Brockman, an expert on world religions, was presented with passages from the Bob Jones and ACE textbooks. Most Protestants would likely disagree with the theological and historical narratives portrayed in the books, he said. “The textbook simply distorts history,” wrote Brockman, a non-resident scholar at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, after examining the selections. “And given the biblical command not to bear false witness, I would question whether a distorted history is consistent with Christian teaching.” When Balzak attended a secular college in 2009, it was a shock to the system, she said. In her first environmental science class, she learned about climate change ― a concept she had been taught was a hoax. “When I took my first real science class, a million light bulbs went off,” said Balzak, who had only been taught creationism in school. “Everything finally made sense.” The experience made Balzak feel robbed of a fact-based education. Indeed, Balzak’s former school, Coral Springs Christian Academy, includes a statement of faith in its parent-student handbook, which is posted on its website: “We believe God created the entire universe out of nothing.” The handbook also describes the school’s attitude toward LGBTQ students. It says administrators will reject applicants or expel current students if they are caught “living in, or condoning, or supporting any form of sexual immorality; practicing or promoting a homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity.”  Coral Springs’ head of school noted that the institution had likely changed a lot since Balzak attended some years ago, although he has worked at the school for only a few years. He said that staff members do not recall the school ever relying significantly on Abeka materials, and says that the student body has become significantly more diverse, “It’s a very different education I’m sure than 20 years ago,” said head of school Joseph Sanelli.  But in some ways, Balzak considered herself lucky. She said her childhood wasn’t traumatic, just deeply imperfect. Bishop didn’t have such luck. Some of the schools Bishop attended were worse than others. She faced the greatest difficulty from ages 11 to 13, when she attended Franklin Christian Academy in Georgia. The school appears to no longer be open, according to the Georgia Department of Education list of private schools, and a series of calls to what Bishop said was an affiliated church were not returned. The school consisted of three rooms, Bishop recalled, with most of the school’s 30-something kids spending all day in the same classroom. The school relied on an Accelerated Christian Education curriculum currently used by at least nine private schools in Georgia that are eligible for taxpayer funds. ACE classrooms are uniquely designed. Students sit in cubicle-like offices, with barriers separating their desks. Teachers do not lead students in lessons or discussions. Instead, students spend all day silently sifting through a succession of readings and fill-in-the-blank worksheets. When students have a question, they raise either an American or Christian flag to get the attention of a class supervisor. A 2012 training manual for administrators obtained by HuffPost lists an education degree as a “detriment” for the job. Indeed these supervisors’ lack of qualifications was once the topic of a “Judge Judy” episode about a decade ago.  At Bishop’s school, she dealt with intense physical bullying and verbal harassment. When she would complain about the harassment, school authorities told her to ignore it. They sometimes implied she was at fault and needed to get closer to Jesus, she said. The school did not employ professionals trained to deal with mental health issues, she added. As a teenager she went nearly mute and thought about killing herself. “I didn’t want to get out of bed. I did self-harm,” she said, speaking slowly and deliberately over coffee. “I just hated myself and I didn’t know what to do about it.” It was also around that time that Bishop realized she was attracted to other girls. She repressed her feelings for decades, even spending most of her 20s married to a man. An examination of ACE textbooks shows that its materials push strict ideas about gender roles and sexuality. Even now Bishop still sometimes finds herself shrinking in the presence of men, saying that it’s almost like “muscle memory.” Balzak echoes these sentiments, saying that even her female teachers reinforced the idea that women are secondary to men. When describing the 1920s, a high school ACE textbook criticizes women for wearing short skirts and cutting their hair, calling it a violation of Scripture. Before the 1920s, when women were less likely to work outside the home, they “were comfortable to be discreet, chaste, keepers at house, good, obedient to their own husbands,” says the material. School, Bishop said, made her want to give up on education. She spent some time being home-schooled, then at another Georgia school before moving to Roxboro Christian School in North Carolina. After less than two years there ― in which she spent much of her time hiding in the bathroom ― she dropped out and got her GED. Roxboro currently participates in North Carolina’s voucher program, and representatives there confirmed that Bishop was once enrolled. The school also confirmed that they use Abeka, Bob Jones and ACE. Roxboro has received over $8,000 this year in voucher program and currently enrolls four scholarship recipients, per a report from the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority. Two other schools Bishop attended are also eligible to receive monetary assistance via school voucher or tax credit programs. Bishop attended Beaufort Christian School in South Carolina and Neuse Christian Academy in North Carolina as a child. Beaufort Christian Academy uses materials from Abeka and ACE, per its website. A representative from the school confirmed that Bishop was once enrolled. Neuse Christian Academy uses materials from Abeka and Bob Jones University, and it received $37,368 in scholarship money for 18 students, per the North Carolina Education Assistance Authority. The school was not able to confirm Bishop’s enrollment because it does not still have its records from that time. How Did These Textbooks Come To Be? Abeka, Bob Jones University Press and Accelerated Christian Education started selling textbooks in the early 1970s, a few decades before Wisconsin enacted the nation’s first voucher program. At the time, enrollment in fundamentalist Christian schools was booming. For one, recent Supreme Court decisions had banned school Bible readings and official school prayer. Groups of evangelical Protestants were alarmed. The founders of these textbook companies dedicated their lives to pushing fundamentalist viewpoints. Abeka leaders Arlin and Beka Horton also founded Pensacola Christian College in Florida, which outlaws dancing and other “satanic practices.” They also founded Pensacola Christian Academy, a K-12 school that currently receives public funding for student scholarships via Florida’s tax credit program. Bob Jones University Press is affiliated with Bob Jones University, which famously lost its tax-exempt status in 1983 after banning interracial dating, a policy it didn’t reverse until 2000. Accelerated Christian Education was founded by Donald Howard, a Texas pastor. In his 1988 book, “World Awakening,” Howard describes AIDS as a plague sent down by God intended to punish gay people and other idol worshippers, like “feminists, prochoice, and Planned Parenthood advocates.” ACE, Abeka and Bob Jones University Press leaders have largely similar educational philosophies, with a few subtle differences. The leaders of all three companies subscribe to an authoritarian vision of education in which students are taught not to question their elders. While ACE’s curriculum barely involves a teacher, Abeka’s promotes the educator as an absolute authority, per research from Binghamton University professor Adam Laats. They all have come under fire for providing children with an inadequate education.  Amanda Lucier for HuffPost Ashley Bishop says the evangelical Christian schools’ curricula kept her from going in directions she might have been interested in. Eleven separate reviews of the ACE program by experts and academics have repudiated the curriculum, according to research conducted by Jonny Scaramanga at University College London. A representative of ACE responded to one of these reviews from 1987. “Our material is not written with conventional viewpoints in mind. We do not believe that education should be nondirective or speculative, or that the final interpretation of facts and events should be left up to immature inexperienced minds as mainline secular curricula do,” wrote a former ACE vice president at the time. The University of California system refuses to accept certain high school courses that rely on BJU and Abeka materials for credit. The Association of Christian Schools International sued the University of California System over this issue in 2005. A judge eventually ruled in favor of the UC System. Still, American taxpayers continue to indirectly prop up these curricula through voucher programs. It is unclear how the proliferation of private school choice programs has affected the bottom line for these textbook companies. Representatives of Bob Jones University Press did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Representatives of ACE did not respond to requests for comment either, however its website claims they are in 6,000 schools around the globe, although a number of experts told HuffPost that they are skeptical of this number. A spokesperson for Abeka noted that, while the company is aware its materials are used in private schools that receive public funding, “Abeka does not advocate or encourage the use of state or federal funding for private, Christian schools.”  “We recognize that academic scholars have differing opinions on historical/scientific content and that this frequently occurs in both public and private educational institutions as reported in the media. We are confident that our content is accurate, age appropriate, and academically rigorous,” wrote Brent Phillips, assistant to the president for business affairs, via email.  Educators Sound Off Educators who use or are familiar with these resources told HuffPost that not all schools who use them have a fundamentalist approach. Indeed, not all schools who use these curricula are deeply religious, and they are used in a range of Christian schools.  They emphasize that the quality of these publishers’ resources differ based on subject and grade level. Bishop said that, while her “education did not equip me to get the most basic of jobs,” she praised the rigor of Abeka and Bob Jones vocabulary and reading comprehension lessons. (Below, a passage on slavery from an Accelerated Christian Education textbook) Dave Moore, executive director of Pittsburgh Urban Christian School in Pennsylvania, said that he does not use any materials provided by these sources but that “Abeka has excellent elementary grammar resources.” Pittsburgh Urban Christian receives scholarship money through Pennsylvania’s school tax credit program. “I would still use it if we didn’t already develop our own curriculum. It does such a good job of it,” said Moore of Abeka’s elementary phonics and math resources. If his school decided to use Abeka materials, he would direct teachers to be on alert for propaganda, he said. “We do the same thing with secular textbooks,” Moore said. Some educators told HuffPost they are happy with the education students receive with these resources. Stephen Lindahl, assistant director of Calumet Christian School in Griffith, Indiana, disagreed with characterizations of Abeka and Bob Jones University Press as pushing a far-right worldview. His school uses Abeka materials almost exclusively for elementary school and then a mix of Abeka and Bob Jones in some later grades. “Abeka and Bob Jones and other biblically based curriculum try to approach academics from a biblical standpoint and from a moral, ethical view, which does not necessarily push any agenda outside of an understanding of God and who Christ is,” Lindahl said. He noted that secular textbooks, too, often come with a specific point of view. HuffPost also reached out to multiple national school-choice advocacy groups for their responses on our findings. None of them responded, even sometimes with weeks’ notice.  However, professors who have studied the curricula say they are dangerous tools for schools to wield. “I want parents to know their children might be coming home with a book that looks like an ordinary textbook but the messages are not what people would ordinarily learn,” said Kathleen Wellman, a professor of history at Southern Methodist University who is working on a book about these publications. “Many universities don’t require history education, so for many Americans this will be their last exposure to history. And many students say they didn’t realize at the time how thoroughly indoctrinated they were being.” Sometimes Bishop wonders what her life would have been like had she not attended evangelical schools. She tried taking online university courses once but dropped out after having trouble balancing academics with her job. She still thinks about trying college again from time to time but worries about the financial feasibility.  (Below, a passage on evolution from an Accelerated Christian Education textbook) Growing up, her schools had never offered outlets for her interest in art or dance ― things that she maybe would have wanted to explore. The only thing she ever remembers wanting to do was perform, a far cry from her current job, working in the produce department of a grocery store. The only career paths presented to her revolved around the church. “It would be kind of different if I was at a school that allowed me to head in a direction I wanted to go,” said Bishop, who lights up when talking about the dance classes she has taken as an adult. “I didn’t really get that chance.” Kaeli Subberwal contributed to this report. Data and graphics by Alissa Scheller. Animation by Isabella Carapella.  This is the first piece in a HuffPost investigation on the policies and curriculum of schools that participate in private school choice programs.  Source: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/school-voucher-evangelical-education-betsy-devos_us_5a021962e4b04e96f0c6093c
Metro Detroit adults under court guardianship put in unlicensed group homes Court appointed guardians using unregulated homes Heather Catallo 11:15 PM, Dec 6, 2017 11:31 PM, Dec 6, 2017 Share Article As part of our year-long investigation into Michigan’s probate courts, the 7 Investigators have uncovered an alarming practice: court appointed guardians putting the people they’re supposed to be caring for into unlicensed group homes. Copyright 2017 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. WARREN, Mich. (WXYZ) - As part of our year-long investigation into Michigan’s probate courts, the 7 Investigators have uncovered an alarming practice: court appointed guardians putting the people they’re supposed to be caring for into unlicensed group homes.  Mom said she was drugged, abused under Michigan probate guardianship While it’s not illegal for certain group homes in Michigan to operate without a license, when you’re dealing with someone who’s considered legally incapacitated, experts say most people in these situations do require care from a licensed facility. “They took her dignity from her, they took everything from her,” said Peter Klavinger. Klavinger says his grandmother, 80-year-old Mary Helen Plummer, had lived on her own for years.   But after a family friend told the Oakland County Probate Court that Plummer was having memory loss, court records show a Judge appointed a Southfield attorney as a co-guardian. Charlene Glover-Hogan is a Public Administrator, a lawyer appointed by Michigan’s Attorney General to handle probate estates after someone dies.    But several judges in metro Detroit like to appoint Public Administrators as professional guardians for adults who are considered “legally incapacitated.” “It’s awful,” said Klavinger. Klavinger says he was outraged when Glover-Hogan moved Plummer into an unlicensed group home in Warren -- a home that was operating illegally as an Adult Foster Care facility. “It smelled, she didn’t look like her hair was brushed.  She had on the same clothes every day, it was for a week,” said Klavinger. Desperate, Plummer’s family hired an attorney. “He called Glover-Hogan, and said did you visit? She said no. He said, well you’re supposed to – and I can name several violations right off the top,” said Klavinger. In Michigan, a group home must be licensed if the owner receives compensation for providing personal care, supervision, and protection, in addition to room and board to people who are mentally ill or disabled. Clarisse Carter runs Due Season Residential Services LLC, the unlicensed group home in Warren.  State investigators from the Bureau of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs inspected the home in October and found that Carter was violating the law. Carter applied for a license 11 months ago, but refused to answer our questions about why she was operating the home before being approved by the state. The guardian later moved Plummer to a licensed facility, but according to state records, Glover-Hogan still has one ward inside the Warren group home. “So you have a document that you want to show me indicating that it’s unlicensed,” asked Glover-Hogan.   During an interview Tuesday, 7 Investigator Heather Catallo shared the Special Investigation Record from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, which oversees Adult Foster Care Facilities.     The report, which is public record, tells Clarisse Carter that she has been providing adult foster care, and says “any person who provides foster care for 24 hours a day, 5 or more days a week, for 2 or more consecutive weeks for compensation without a license is in violation of [Public] Act 218.” “I don’t have anything indicating that that was the case,” said Glover-Hogan. Glover-Hogan says based on the level of care required in Plummer’s case, she didn’t think that a licensed home was needed. “My goal, is make sure they have a roof over their head, they have heat, they have electricity, they have water and they have food,” said Glover-Hogan.  “We all serve as public servants – it’s not an easy job.” Glover-Hogan said going forward, she will do more research, and she said often when she initially places wards, she does not have access to any of their funds yet, which can make placement extremely difficult. “I do the best I can with what I have,” said Glover-Hogan. “An individual that’s incapacitated that needs a higher level of service, the likelihood is that that type of facility would require a license,” said Larry Horvath, the Director of Michigan’s Bureau of Community and Health Systems.  The Bureau supervises the state’s 4200 licensed group homes. “We would strongly try to encourage the courts and educate the courts on that, to make sure that those guardians and placing agencies are placing them in a proper setting,” said Horvath. The owner of the group home would not return our phone calls to comment on this story.   After a legal challenge this fall, Mrs. Plummer’s son and cousin are now her guardians, and she is now living at home with relatives. If you know of a group home that you believe should be licensed, the state wants to hear from you.  If you prefer to contact the state via mail, please click here. If you want to see if a certain group home is licensed, please click here. If you have a story for Heather Catallo, please email her at hcatallo@wxyz.com or call 248-827-4473.   Source: https://www.wxyz.com/news/local-news/investigations/metro-detroit-adults-under-court-guardianship-put-in-unlicensed-group-homes
Now-shuttered Millstone youth group home had several violations Steph Solis, @stephmsolis Published 5:01 a.m. ET Dec. 8, 2017 | Updated 10:22 a.m. ET Dec. 8, 2017 CLOSE A group home, run by the New Jersey Mentor group, had multiple violations for months before closing for an unrelated reason. Steph Solis/Wochit MILLSTONE - The Stillhouse Road group home for at-risk boys, run by the private, taxpayer-funded New Jersey Mentor company, became controversial just months after it opened in this sleepy township in November 2016. Following a series of burglaries, neighbors and town officials complained about increased crime and lack of communication with New Jersey Mentor's managers, ultimately pressuring the for-profit group home agency and the state Department of Children and Families to shut it down last month. What neighbors didn’t know when they aired their complaints is that the group home had operated for months under a cloud of violations identified by state inspectors. They ranged from minor infractions such as open food in the kitchen to staff members working alone with the young residents before getting their background check clearances and children receiving psychotropic medication before giving written consent, according to an Asbury Park Press analysis of inspection records obtained through public record requests to the Department of Children and Families. "All of this points to what I was saying in the (October) town meeting, what does it take for one of these group homes to be shut down?" asked Fiore Masci, deputy mayor of Millstone. "These organizations are taking taxpayers' money to provide a service, and those services can be and should be rendered. If they're not rendered appropriately, we need to find services that will."  More: Lakewood housing czar makes $469,000 despite federal battle, conviction More: Howell homeless camp residents thankful for donations, each other The Department of Children and Families did not respond to questions about how the state responds to multiple violations at group homes; nor did the department respond to any questions regarding individual violations. Neither the department nor New Jersey Mentor elaborated on how much the company is paid for running a group home. The state Department of Children and Families and New Jersey Mentor agreed to close the group home after a town hall meeting in October where Millstone residents questioned the company's practices.  Neighbors complained for months about slack supervision and the boys' alleged behavior outside the group home and level of supervision, following a string of burglaries in July that were tied to two suspects living in the Stillhouse Road home. The complaints came to a head after a second string of burglaries Oct. 5 in which stolen items were lit on fire with an accelerant in the woods near the group home. The staff member on call didn't report the boys missing that night and was fired, New Jersey Mentor supervisors said. "It's concerning that there's kids out there in the middle of the night," said Tara Katzman, a mother of four who was burglarized in the October incident. She eventually learned her family's laptop had been set on fire in the woods. New Jersey Mentor supervisors and state officials declined to release personal information about the at-risk boys living in the Stillhouse Road group home because of privacy laws protecting the children. But inspection records offer a glimpse into the group home.  Have you had experiences with group homes in New Jersey? Contact reporter Steph Solis at ssolis@gannett.com. Buy Photo The group home operated by Mentor Group in Millstone Township. (Photo: Doug Hood) Multiple violations The Stillhouse Road property was one of 18 group homes run by New Jersey Mentor. According to inspection records on the property, the group home housed up to five boys at a time and was required to have at least two staff members in the home to watch the boys. Joanne Kirk, executive director of New Jersey Mentor, said the group homes within the state offer art, dance and other forms of therapy, individual and family counseling, volunteer outings and other resources. At the Stillhouse Road property, state inspectors between May 24 and 26 reported nine violations related to programming and five related to upkeep and safety. These are among the most severe:  Staff members restrained youth without documenting it. State regulations require that staff members report all instances involving physical restraint in incident reports. Staff members were working alone with residents before their criminal background checks and child abuse registry checks were on file. Staff members administered residents psychotropic medication before getting written consent. Additionally, staff members documented daily side effects of psychotropic medication on a child when that child wasn't in the program. The state investigated a report from March 30 suggesting a staff member "engaged in an inappropriate physical interaction with a resident." The inspection did not elaborate on the nature of the incident other than to say the staff member was re-trained. More: Millstone man's $900K pot operation busted, prosecutor says Photos: Millstone man makes the ultimate Halloween display The Department of Children and Family's Office of Licensing inspects group home at least once every other year and often conducts an unannounced inspection once or twice, but follow-ups can occur days after an initial inspection. A re-inspection conducted fourth months later at the group home shows that some violations remained unresolved, including the issues with documenting the use of physical restraint. The inspector reported two additional violations: missing signatures on medication logs and missing proof that a resident received medications to treat an infection. When asked about the violations, Kirk said in a statement, "In most instances, including with regard to background checks, the problems raised in the licensing reports can be tied to weaknesses in record keeping. We have recently expanded our HR capacity and are reviewing our processes and procedures to ensure a more seamless hiring process and full compliance with all regulatory standards." State inspectors may work with group homes to give them time to correct certain problems before conducting a re-inspection or directing other officials to step in, said Mary Coogan, vice president of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, a nonpartisan nonprofit that works with government officials to improve child welfare. Coogan did not comment on individual inspections, but she said some infractions such as missing background checks or lack of consent for medications warrant more attention than others related to cleanliness or paperwork. "It makes sense to give a program or agency time to take corrective action regarding licensing violations that pertain to record-keeping or maybe staff training or programmatic issues," she said. "Violations that would raise a safety concern, from my perspective, require more immediate action." Earnest Landante, a spokesmen for the Department of Children and Families, confirmed that the department and New Jersey Mentor agreed to close the home after all the children were transferred. He did not respond to followup inquires about the inspection records. 'It's a failing business' Dozens of residents packed the Millstone meetingroom one night in October for three hours, pressing New Jersey Mentor supervisors with questions and complaints. Residents questioned the agency's supervisors about the children's background and the treatment they receive. Several in the town of 10,000 said they used to leave their front doors open and their cars unlocked; now they lock everything and have home surveillance systems installed. While some neighbors blamed the children, most residents shifted focus to the managers. They claimed New Jersey Mentor supervisors weren't helping the boys, integrating them into the community or disciplining them when they acted out. "This is a business, and it's a failing business because these kids are being failed," resident Anthony Italiano said at the town hall meeting in October, adding "we care about those kids and we care about our kids in the community. It is failing." During the meeting, Italiano and Katzman, one of the burglary victims, asked several questions on behalf of the community: Do the kids get bed checks? Were the homes subject to any municipal inspections? How do employees handle incidents involving youth?  A little more than a week after the meeting, town officials announced the group home was closing.  “This is a business, and it's a failing business because these kids are being failed.” Anthony Italiano, Millstone resident Councilwoman Nancy Grbelja said she contacted Assemblyman Ronald Dancer, and they are discussing legislation to bar group homes from small towns like Millstone that don't have municipal police departments. One major problem, she said, is group homes can open without notifying municipalities. They don't face municipal inspections because they are licensed by the state and zoned as private residences. "I had said to him at this particular point we really needed something that was going to allow a municipality to allow to put some kind of control on these group homes," she said.  Kirk said New Jersey Mentor's properties are audited regularly by routine and unannounced inspections like any other group home. Despite the closure of the Stillhouse Road property, she said the agency helped children make progress in their treatment and return home, "which was our collective goal." She added: “We welcome any policy discussion that is designed to ensure the well-being of the children we serve. That said, we believe that DCF does an excellent job regulating and monitoring their contracts with all providers." Steph Solis: @stephmsolis; 732-403-0074; ssolis@gannett.com.  Source: http://www.app.com/story/news/local/western-monmouth-county/millstone-township/2017/12/08/millstone-new-jersey-mentor-group-home-violations/822085001/