PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — A class action lawsuit has been filed against Glen Mills Schools in Delaware County and Pennsylvania officials amid child abuse allegations at the reform school. Lawyers from Juvenile Law Center, Education Law Center and Dechert LLP filed the lawsuit Thursday in Philadelphia on behalf of hundreds of students who were held there.
Glen Mills Schools, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, former Human Services secretary Theodore Dallas, and other officials were named in the lawsuit.
The suit claims that boys housed at Glen Mills Schools “were subjected to extreme and sustained physical and psychological abuse and deprived of an education.”
Lawyers say in the lawsuit that officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Chester County Intermediate Unit “allowed Glen Mills’ education program to operate in the shadows without any oversight or monitoring to ensure the educational rights of students.”
“Youth at Glen Mills were traumatized by abuse and intimidation and deprived of their right to an education. Instead of educating youth with significant needs, children languished in a limited, self-directed, online credit recovery program without the support of teachers or instruction,” Maura McInerney, legal director for Education Law Center, said in a statement. “Many youth were forced to forgo any secondary education at all and handed a GED prep book. The special education needs of children with disabilities were ignored, and clearly, many youth were disciplined and subject to abuse based on their disabilities. This lawsuit seeks to hold Glen Mills as well as Pennsylvania’s state and local education agencies responsible for a profound dereliction of their duties and unconscionable deprivation of educational opportunities for youth whose lives are forever changed.”
Glen Mills Schools says it learned of the lawsuit through media coverage.
“We were made aware of the lawsuit through media coverage as the Juvenile Law Center and others involved failed to reach out to our legal counsel prior to any media announcement today. That said, our attorneys are now evaluating the suit, which will take some time due to its length. The school will comment on it once it has had time to evaluate it. We look forward to our appeal process with the state and encourage anyone who wants to read our side of the story to review those documents, which are and will continue to be available to the public,” the school said in a statement.
Last week, state officials revoked all 14 licenses issued to Glen Mills Schools.
Glen Mills announced layoffs earlier this month of about 250 staff members following the state’s order that remaining students be removed from the Delaware County campus about 25 miles west of Philadelphia.
A former student told Eyewitness News that he and others were abused at the school.
“[I saw violence] almost every day,” the man said. “It wasn’t even a week that would go by without six, seven incidents.”
The lawsuit is seeking damages as well as other equitable relief.
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