Author Topic: Scott Valley School cited for not feeding the students properly  (Read 791 times)

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Scott Valley School cited for not feeding the students properly
« on: December 27, 2015, 05:31:53 AM »
The organization earlier ran "The Academy".

Quote from: Statesman Journal
'Lack of food' among abuse and neglect complaints at boarding school
by Gordon Friedman, Statesman Journal, December 14 - 2015


This story is part of the Statesman Journal's continued coverage of child abuse at foster homes and unrest at the Oregon Department of Human Services.


The Oregon Department of Human Services intends to pull the license for the therapeutic boarding school Scotts Valley School. A notice sent to Scotts Valley on Friday outlined investigations of abuse by boarding school staff, including abusive disciplinary techniques and withholding food from students living there.

Scotts Valley faced a comprehensive license review in July and August of this year following six years of multiple reviews by DHS leading to recommended "corrective actions." Those recommendations did little to change policy at Scotts Valley, DHS found, and now the agency wants to pull its license.

The school faced investigation in 2012 for its use of a discipline technique called "the Wall," in which students were forced to sit on the ground and stare at a wall for 12 hours. An investigation found one student with "significant mental health concerns" was forced to be on the Wall for two weeks straight. Students told investigators that a student could have been on the Wall for up to a month. The Office of Adult Abuse Investigations and Protective Services issued a corrective action.

DHS found that use of restraints was not well documented by Scotts Valley, and that students had helped staff put others in restraints.

In 2011, OAAPI conducted an investigation into a complaint that a staff member beat a student with a belt. The investigation was "inconclusive" because the student reported abuse and the staff member said the incident was "horseplay." The student's story was also inconsistent at times. The same staff member was investigated for verbal abuse the next year, though that investigation was inconclusive as well.

A 2013 investigation found that a staff member tipped a student from his desk and punched him in the face. In 2014, students were found to have been given degrading names by the staff, such as "Orphan Whore." A corrective action was then issued.

Investigators called into question Scotts Valley's practice of making students write long essays as discipline. The essays could be given for any reason. Investigators found that the essays likely didn't harm the mental health of the students, but their effectiveness as discipline is doubtful.

In December 2014, DHS found that students were forced to attend a weeklong seminar in an unheated gym. The next year, a bed bug infestation was found in the girls dormitory.

Scotts Valley director Dave Thomas told DHS he was aware of the bed bug problem. DHS said Thomas "has frequently misrepresented facts or responded to inquiries in a circular fashion." Thomas was not able to be reached for comment for this story.

Students were found to have had an inappropriate role in discipline at Scotts Valley. Investigators found students telling an injured student to "push through" an injury while staff watched on and did not act. Another student reported being the victim of a rape and other students "berated" her until she said it was a lie. Staff observed this happening but didn't step in.

An August, 2015 review of Scotts Valley found food wasn't always available for the students. Students are supposed to be able to request snacks, but sometimes they weren't fed.

"Throughout all these reviews, students consistently reported being hungry," DHS said. The notice reported the agency was concerned that lack of food could cause "serious health issues" or "reflect a neglectful environment."

Another area of concern was hiring. DHS found that Scotts Valley staff did not often file reference checks before hiring. One staff member, Jad Thommen, completed his own reference check. Scotts Valley has been cited for improperly conducting reference and background checks since 2009. The facility was given corrective actions for this four times, but repeatedly offended.

"Scotts Valley has failed to insure that appropriate training and orientation is provided to staff and documented," DHS's notice said.

The agency is concerned that staff at the boarding school aren't trained well enough on behavior management, food handling and CPR. The lack of training calls into question whether Scotts Valley can provide a safe environment for children, DHS said.

Staff did not properly maintain required medication logs, DHS found. "Medications for students were all mixed together ..." its report said.

Enrollment documents for students have also been missing. Those documents include required consent forms and notifications of rights.

Scotts Valley can request an administrative hearing to protest losing its license.