DLC Finds Residential School in Swansea Effectively Remedied Abuse and Neglect Concerns
BOSTON, April 11, 2018 – The Disability Law Center (DLC) issues a Report today announcing the results of its abuse and neglect investigation at Meadowridge Academy (Meadowridge) in Swansea, Massachusetts. DLC substantiated abuse and neglect at Meadowridge, but also found it has comprehensively remedied the abuse and neglect concerns.
Meadowridge is a private, residential special education school, which is a part of the Justice Resource Institute (JRI) network, and approved by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Meadowridge serves as a placement for up to 36 students with significant mental health issues, behavioral difficulties and complex trauma histories.
During the winter of 2016, DLC received complaints regarding the treatment of students at Meadowridge. As part of its investigation, DLC reviewed records from Meadowridge, multiple state oversight agencies and local police. DLC also interviewed families, conducted two site visits and interviewed the Director of Meadowridge and JRI staff.
DLC’s investigation substantiated abuse and neglect against students with disabilities from 2014 through 2016. Specifically, in 2015, one residential supervisor abused a 17-year old student by engaging in a sexual relationship with her. Additionally, from January 2014 to October 2016, DLC found several staff members engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior with students. All employees involved in any misconduct were terminated or resigned. DLC also found Meadowridge neglected students by failing to provide a safe environment (e.g. 142 police incidents at Meadowridge from 2014-2016, including peer-on-peer assaults and runaways).
DLC also found Meadowridge has engaged in extensive corrective action measures to prevent further harm to students with disabilities. For example:
- Meadowridge installed 58 cameras in all common areas that can be accessed remotely 24/7;
- Windows were installed in all doors to increase visibility;
- Unscheduled night-time site visits are now conducted on a regular basis;
- Reporting mechanisms were changed so lower-level employees can report potential boundary violations about their supervisors to other administration;
- Staff training changed from lecture-style model to practical application model, including full-day shadowing;
These changes have decreased runaways dramatically and eliminated staff boundary violations at Meadowridge. Due to the proactive and broad nature of Meadowridge’s remediation, DLC does not seek any additional remedies, but will continue to monitor the school for compliance.
“The misconduct at Meadowridge was egregious” says Marlene Sallo, DLC’s Executive Director. “However, we commend Meadowridge for assessing every aspect of their operation and engaging in thoughtful and effective corrective action at every level.”
Contact: Stanley J. Eichner, Litigation Director