Feb 21, 2016

DHS chief: Midwest Academy used outdated methods

Zachary Devereaux
Des Moines Register
February 19, 2016
Iowa Department of Human Services Director Charles Palmer said Thursday that Midwest Academy used outdated methods to deal with troubled teens that would not be used by licensed facilities in Iowa today.
“That boot-camp or military style or approach has become less and less popular,” Palmer said. “I would hope we’ve gone beyond that.”
Students at the school reported the frequent use of isolation and restraint. Several reported being forced to sit or stand in certain positions for extended periods of time. Heads were shaved, shoes were taken, long sleeves and pants were prohibited. Students were initially not allowed contact with family, or, at times, even to look at others.
Zachary Devereaux, 16, who lived at the school from November 2013 to November 2014, said there was no way a student with no privileges could make a child abuse call or report. Devereaux said he was sent to an isolation cell 11 times, once for reporting bad food and rodents in the kitchen. The concrete isolation rooms for boys sometimes had no bedding or pillows. He says he once spent six days in one — with static piped in over speakers.
"There were multiple times I was restrained with cuts and bruises and my mom had no clue about it," said Devereaux, who lives in New Jersey.
The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigationconducted a search at the academy in Keokuk and at a Montrose site in late January after a student reported she was sexually assaulted. The FBI was called in to help with the investigation, and the state attorney general and the U.S. Attorney’s office have been consulted as the case progresses.

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