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Sheppard Pratt close school after arrest of employee


They blame Covid-19 to avoid the question about how they did not catch the employee in time.

--- Quote ---Sheppard Pratt to close Fredrick County school, lay off 175 employees
By Morgan Eichensehr,  Baltimore Business Journal, June 25 - 2020

Sheppard Pratt will shut down one of its Maryland special education schools serving teens and young adults in August, due to fiscal challenges related to Covid-19.

The special education and mental health services provider filed a notice under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, indicating its plan to permanently close the Jefferson School and Residential Treatment Center in Frederick County, effective August 31. The closure will affect 175 Sheppard Pratt employees currently working at the school.

Sheppard Pratt attributed the closure to financial pressures related to the novel coronavirus.

"Organizations across the nation are facing challenging financial times, and Sheppard Pratt is not immune," the organization said in a statement to the Business Journal. "The program has experienced a series of setbacks, including a declining census, and with the increased financial challenges from COVID-19, it is no longer financially sustainable for us to remain open."

The organization did not disclose specific details about revenue or enrollment impacts.

The closure also follows multiple charges and an investigation involving former Jefferson School employees who were accused of sexual abuse of teenage students at the school.

One former employee, John Randolph Gordon, was arrested in April and sentenced in December to six years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of sex abuse of a minor, according to reports by the Frederick News Post. Three additional former Jefferson School employees, Ariel Carrine-Krieman Eppard, Wesley Jerome Dean and Jermaine Dontay Thomas, were also arrested and charged with various sex abuse offenses against two female students in September, following an investigation by Maryland State Police and Frederick County Child Protective Services.

Sheppard Pratt representatives did not say whether these cases had any impact on the decision to close the Jefferson School.

The organization said it will work over the coming months on appropriate placement for all of the school's existing students and residents. The Jefferson School has capacity for 53 residential students and 30 day school students, a majority of whom hail from Frederick and Montgomery counties, as well as Washington, D.C., and is currently at half capacity, according to Sheppard Pratt representatives.

The Jefferson School is one of 13 schools and residential programs run by Sheppard Pratt throughout the state, serving children and young adults with emotional and behavioral disabilities who need specialized educational support. No other closures are planned at this time, Sheppard Pratt said.

The school is located on a 30-acre wooded campus about 15 minutes outside the city of Frederick. It provides attendees with access to year-round school instruction, in addition to services like individual and group psychotherapy, family therapy, vocational and life skills training, psychiatric assessment and medication management, speech and language therapy and other related services.

Sheppard Pratt is among the many Maryland organizations that have filed WARN notices amid the ongoing pandemic. Thousands of workers from companies large and small have faced layoffs and furloughs as a result of economic downturn and industry shutdowns triggered by Covid-19.

The BBJ has been tracking some of the largest and most high-caliber layoffs and business closures in Maryland so far. Details on those layoffs can be viewed here.

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