Following the discovery that boys at Glen Mills School were being abused, Pennsylvania officials have removed all remaining students from the nations oldest reform school, which has been linked to reports of abuse, negligence and gross incompetence that posed a serious risk to the health and safety of the students.
In a letter (PDF) issued late last month, 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. The letter indicates that the state is removing the last students from the school for the sake of their own safety.
“Based on interviews conducted with youth currently and formally placed at Glen Mills, the department determined that residents have been and continue to be subjected to physical harm as a result of being slapped, punched, and stricken by staff,” the letter states. “In addition, youth are encouraged by staff to engage in physical altercations with peers that has resulted in injuries to youth and staff have failed to intervene in these altercations.”
State officials found that the school withheld medical treatment, threatened students into silence and failed to overall ensure student safety.
Glen Mills had 10 days from March 25 to appeal the decision. The school still has 14 licenses, but the state’s investigation continues and it may ultimately lose those licenses, shutting down the school for good.
A number of former students and families are now evaluating potential Glen Mills abuse lawsuits against the reform school, pursuing damages for mistreatment and neglect.