Saturday, January 15, 2005

Behavior modification schools: What does it mean when a kid can't call home?

As most of you know, I am always just on the brink of thinking that young "Jordan" is happy and being well-treated at Monarch School, a "Behavior Modification" group home in the far-away mountains of Montana. Then I start to thinking, "If he's so happy there and it is such a wonderful place, then why isn't he allowed to talk to anyone? At $4,000 a month tuition, the boy should at LEAST be allowed the cost of an occasional postage stamp!"

So I asked Jordan Riak, the director of PTAVE (Parents and Teachers against Violence in Education) to get on the grapevine and see what he could find. And now I'm back to being scared for Jordan all over again!

When you go to their website, the school sounds wonderful:

School for struggling teens: The Monarch School in Heron, Montana Educational Program for life. The Monarch School located in Heron, Montana is a coeducational, residential school emphasizing the creative arts. ...
Heron, Montana is home to Monarch School... Monarch School. PO Box 410 • Heron, MT 59844 For more information call toll free(877) 955-2232 (406) 847-5095 Fax (406) 847-5014 email: generalinfo ... - 6k -

Jordan Riak wrote:

Jane, this just arrived.

Jordan Riak, Exec. Dir., Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education (PTAVE), P.O. Box 1033, Alamo, CA 94507-7033. Web site: "Project NoSpank" at Telephone: (925) 831-1661

The founder of Monarch, Patrick McKenna, is a graduate of Rocky Mountain Academy, which is a CEDU program; Monarch's Admissions Director, Ranel Hanson, worked for Rocky Mountain Academy for six years and then joined SUWS. (Info pertaining to CEDU & SUWS are at the very end.)

Here are the 'connective' links for Monarch School showing that staffers do have past affiliations with CEDU and SUWS programs, followed by a link to posts concerning Monarch, that includes these comments,

"Unbelievable!!!! Monarch School in Heron Montana needs to know that Jane Habermann and Steve Rookey are BAD EGGS. They should not be around children!...I'm surprised Tim Earle has any brain cells left. ...Did you notice in their bios, at Monarch School, that they do not mention CEDU at all. That speaks a thousand words as far as I'm concerned. ...It is very important that Monarch School be watched for a repeat of CEDU programs. "

Monarch SchoolBoarding Schools in Idaho
Contact Person:Ranel HansonPhone Number:(877) 955-2232 (1994 info)
SUWS ADOLESCENT PROGRAMby: Ranel HansonSandpoint, Idaho208-265-4616
(Ranel Hanson was the Director of Admissions for Rocky Mountain Academy for six years, and recently joined SUWS as Director of Enrollment Services. Her job is to work with referring professionals as well as to oversee the SUWS Admissions department.)

Academic Director, Ron Mendenhall, explained, “creative arts are the backbone of the program.” This emphasis has resulted from Patrick McKenna and Tim Earle’s experience of the therapeutic value of the expressive arts. They understand the important role the creative process plays in building and living one’s dream, lessons Patrick feels he learned on the road to becoming the first Rocky Mountain Academy graduate. During this early education Patrick progressed from behaviors that would preclude his enrollment at Monarch School, to learning the discipline, accountability and communication skills that enabled him to inspire the creation of Monarch School.

In 1982, Rocky Mountain Academy was established as the first CEDU emotional growth boarding school in Idaho.

Suits allege abuse at two schools
Private CEDU academies treat troubled teens
Kevin Taylor, Staff writer, October 29, 2004

More than two dozen parents and former students at Rocky Mountain Academy and Boulder Creek Academy - two expensive private schools for troubled teens - have filed four lawsuits claiming a pattern of neglect and abuse inflicted upon kids by staff or by other students running out of staffers' control.

The four lawsuits can be grouped into two categories, Todd Reed, attorney for the plaintiffs, said Thursday. Two of the suits recount allegations of misconduct and breach-of-contract issues from Boulder Creek Academy near Bonners Ferry in the mid- to late-1990s; the others concern students more recently enrolled at Rocky Mountain Academy, which is near Naples, Idaho. Boulder Creek typically houses 70 students. Rocky Mountain, which typically enrolls nearly 40 students, currently has 30.

Among the allegations listed in the lawsuits filed at the Bonner County Courthouse in Sandpoint:

One boy was forced to dig a grave, crawl into a coffin in the grave and have dirt thrown on it by staff.
A girl was called "fatty" by staff even as she was being counseled by other staffers for bulimia.
Another girl was called a "whore" and forced by staffers to wear a derisive sign advertising oral sex.

Another suit alleges a student at RMA was hazed, beaten and insulted constantly and with impunity by other students because staffers were not in the dormitories and didn't seem to care enough to stop the beatings when they did find out. ...

CEDU is no stranger to such lawsuits. In November 2002, the company paid a $300,000 settlement to two former students who had alleged CEDU hired poorly trained, abusive staff. The students said the situation was what led to a student riot at Rocky Mountain Academy in 1997. Five students and staffers were injured in the riot. Reed said a second lawsuit against CEDU in North Idaho also was settled, but the amount of the award has been sealed....

According to the SUWS info pages - at the bottom of the pages - SUWS is amember of the ASPEN EDUCATION GROUP. Here's a link to one of the pages: Here's the main page for Aspen Education - with links concerning their MANY MANY programs: Here is a link to some posts at FORNITS board concerning Aspen programs: