Friday they took my old boss, who is 70, to jail. “They led her away in handcuffs and she wasn’t able to say good-bye to her husband or kids” a friend reports.
I’m not sure how I feel about it.
The school where I worked was one of those “tough love” schools started in the 80s, when that was popular. The school had grown out of a foster home. Church men had asked if my boss and her husband, a pastor, would be able or willing to make a school for troubled kids who were getting kicked out of church schools. The school was first set up to function like a home school foster home. The staff all lived in the home with the students, available 24-7.
The school’s philosophy was picked up from here and there. Compassionate care was a big part of the school’s philosophy–lots of light, exercise, and an accepting micro-community that would teach people to live in the larger community. Discipline was meant to be on the “Love and Logic” model–where consequences were immediate, logical, and somewhat unpredictable: teachable moments rather than rigid cause and effect punishments. Later influences included Steven Covey’s “7 Habits”, Gary Chapman’s “Love Languages” and at the very end Nancy Thomas’s RAD theories.
The school would take almost anyone as long as there was a bed. I have not heard of a kid being turned away for being too bad, though I have heard of one rejected because he wasn’t bad enough. There was also a strong tradition of never kicking anyone out. When Terrance burnt the boy’s dorm, my boss fought to get him back into the school’s custody “We can’t let this kid think he can just act crazier to get out of things.” In another administration, when Nick burnt the dining room, he was back as soon as he finished his term at the State School, reporting that The School was so much nicer than the State Home.
The staff were mostly caring people, but woefully undertrained, over stressed and under rested. The School ran on adrenaline. Dorm staff worked in alternating shifts of 26 hours on and 22 hours off on weekdays. Teams that were on Friday morning would cover the whole weekend, knowing the next weekend they would be off. Later teams worked in 12 hour day and night shifts that would switch after the night shift served the weekend they would go back on days, and the former day shift would come in on nights. Theoretically the night shift had only to sleep in the dorms, but there was always someone sleep-walking, trying to run away, having nightmares, slipping into the other sex dorms or even getting demon possessed.
Daytimes were not any calmer. We were seriously the last stop before real life long institutionalization in places like jails or mental hospitals. Then in the mix we had a handful of spoiled brats. All of which had to be protected from themselves and each other.
The facilities were somewhat primitive and somewhat depressing. The girls lived 4-6 to a room. The boys lived in a barracks. The single staff lived 5 adults to a 4 bedroom trailer. The married staff got a small trailer for their family. One family left after they found ants crawling over the baby.
Any school such as this one will attract the best and the worst people as staff. There will a goodly number of world savers and a goodly number of predators, and the predators can imitate the world savers for some time
The question isn’t whether there will be abuse, but how the abuse will be responded to, and this is what got my boss in trouble. Her first assumption was always that the state was out to destroy parochial schools and that we must keep our sovereignty to protect us from government overstepping (which I always found interesting because she voted for Obama). So everything was addressed in house, and not reported, which is one of the misdemeanors she pled guilty too.
I do not know if the abuse allegation that was made against one of the staff members was true or not. I worked with neither this staff nor this kid. People who were there have said both ways. I do know that kids have lied. I also know that staff have crossed the line.
In any case, the school was closed. It would have been a fairly easy win. The state had violated a court order in removing the kids. All my boss had to do was wait.
Instead she lied to the officers about having returned all of the kids while 2 of them were still in her home. They found the kids hiding in her husband’s church.
In that way, I have very little sympathy. However, the real question should be was there abuse and what kind of abuse there was. I think a lot of what is happening is that she is obnoxious and the court is making its point–We will not be defied.