According to allegations raised in at least two separate class action lawsuits filed over abuse at the Glen Mills reform school, Pennsylvania state officials and school employees failed to protect vulnerable minors from physical and mental abuse at the now-defunct facility.
Each of the Glen Mills School abuse lawsuits raise similar allegations, describing incidence involving children attending the reform school, which was founded in 1826 and received juveniles from states throughout the United States.
One complaint (PDF) was filed against Glen Mills School by the parents of two boys, indicating that they were routinely and severely abused while attending the reform school.
The second second complaint (PDF) was filed on behalf of several other boys and their guardians, pursuing damages not only against the school, but also the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services and various other entities, indicating that “barbaric abuse continued unchecked” due to a callous disregard for the safety and well-being of youth in their charge.
Both cases were filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and seek class action status to pursue damages for thousands of other students who allegedly endured abuse at the reform school. Both lawsuits use synonyms or incomplete names to identify the plaintiffs, since many involved are minors or were minors at the time of the abuse.
“Instead of receiving any treatment or services, as required by the Pennsylvania Juvenile Act as a condition of their involuntary commitment at Glen Mills and in violation of their constitutional and legal rights, these youth were subjected to extreme and sustained physical violence and psychological abuse and deprived of an education,” the most recent lawsuit states. “This shocking abuse had an especially dire impact upon Black youth, who were disproportionately sent to Glen Mills, and students with disabilities whose educational rights were ignored.”
In late March, Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare Deputy Secretary Cathy A. Utz announced an Emergency Removal Order for Glen Mills Schools, where at least 64 students remained, which was down from a peak of more than 1,000 students.
The announcement came following an investigation by the Philadelphia Inquirer into cases of serious violence and abuse at the boys reform school, which were first reported in February.
The Glen Mills School was first founded in 1826, and housed boys from across the nation, many of whom were sent to the reform school through a court order due to behavioral problems. However, the investigation revealed rampant abuse and physical violence, and efforts to threaten children attending the school into silence.
After the first Philadelphia Inquirer article was published, states and cities began withdrawing juvenile delinquents from the Glen Mills reform school, and Executive Director Randy Ireson stepped down, claiming a leave of absence for health reasons.
State officials also investigated and corroborated the newspaper’s findings, and the state revoked all of the school’s licenses on April 8. The school is appealing that decision.