Center for troubled teens shut down

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Posted: Saturday, February 21, 2009 1:07 am

ESBON (AP) — The state has shut down a northern Kansas treatment center for troubled adolescents after inspectors found emergency exit doors locked on three occasions.

The White Rock Academy in Esbon on Thursday was ordered closed after state officials twice told operators to remove the locks, which violate the state fire and safety code. The academy has until Monday to make other arrangements for its 24 residents.

The state suspended the center’s license, citing a need to protect youths at the facility from physical abuse or threats to their safety.

Officials alleged that residents were not receiving adequate mental health, drug and alcohol treatment. The order also says one youth was handcuffed throughout his monthlong stay at the center in 2007.

Messages left at the academy on Friday weren’t immediately returned.

The state also said that youths at the academy who were from outside Kansas did not have state authorities’ permission to be admitted.

Deputies accompanied a Kansas Department of Health and Environment official to serve the emergency suspension order on the facility, Jewell County Sheriff David Fullerton said Thursday.

The academy is in a former middle school and was issued an operating license by the state in April 2007.

The academy’s Web site advertises the facility as offering a therapeutic atmosphere that includes working with animals and other services.

But the state alleges that equine therapy, individual academic tutoring and other specialized services were not being provided by the academy, said Tracy Diel, director of the administrative hearing office for the Department of Health and Environment.

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