Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said his audit of the Glen Mills Schools in Delaware County shows the reform school failed in numerous ways to protect the students it was entrusted to keep safe.
The state Department of Human Services (DHS) revoked the school’s licenses last year, citing evidence that students were subjected to abuse and intimidation intended to coerce them into remaining silent. The school is entangled in legal battles over its future and faces numerous lawsuits from former students alleging they were subjected to physical and sexual abuse.
“There is no excuse for abuse under any circumstances and that’s especially true in a facility that is supposed to help troubled youth get back on track,” DePasquale said. “My audit shows the Glen Mills Schools’ administrators and staff failed to protect the students in their charge.”
Prior to the state ordering all students to be removed in March 2019, Glen Mills was a privately-run, residential educational facility that accepted male students from across the country who were generally placed there via court orders.
“My team found that Glen Mills Schools failed to comply with the Child Protective Services Law and also lacked policies and training related to reporting abuse, all of which put the safety and well-being of students at risk,” DePasquale said. “If abuse is even suspected to have occurred, the law requires staff to report it immediately.”
Auditors found that between July 2017 and March 2020, Glen Mills Schools, among other things:
- Did not obtain and maintain required background clearances in some instances from its employees, contractors, and volunteers, which potentially put students at risk of harm.
- Permitted four new employees to continue working with students despite not obtaining their federal background clearances within the required time period.
- Did not ensure that some adults who may have had direct contact with students received all of the required training related to the prevention of child abuse and the mandatory reporting of suspected abuse.
- Failed during the first day of students’ orientation to communicate the importance of the mandatory reporter requirement to report suspected abuse.
- Updated its processes for students and staff to follow when reporting and investigating violations of student rights. However, the March 2019 update still did not sufficiently address abuse of a student.
- Did not have a specific retaliation policy regarding non-sexual related abuse of students.
Glen Mills Schools’ current administrators agree with audit findings and have indicated a commitment to implement them.