Glen Mills Schools hit with class-action lawsuit amid abuse, cover-ups allegations

Steve Tawa
April 11, 2019 - 3:08 pm

Steve Tawa/KYW Newsradio

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GLEN MILLS, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Days after the commonwealth pulled Glen Mills Schools' license to operate, because of allegations of physical abuse and cover-ups, the nation's oldest reform school has been hit with a class-action lawsuit.  

Four former Glen Mills students head the class-action lawsuit filed in federal court.

“We are seeking a minimum of $10 million,” said Marsha Levick, chief legal officer of the Juvenile Law Center.

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She alleged boys housed at Glen Mills "were subjected to extreme [conditions> and sustained physical and psychological abuse." She said they were "deprived of an education" and their constitutional rights were violated.

“The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, and the Fourteenth Amendment provides a similar kind of protection through a substantive due process analysis,” she said.

Maura McInerney, legal director for the Education Law Center, also casts blame on state and local officials.

“By allowing Glen Mills to operate in the shadows, without any oversight, monitoring, intervention or review, state and local education officials caused an unconscionable deprivation of education,” she said. “Their failure to act has cost many children their future,” by failing to protect the boys placed at the school.

The Dechert law firm is also involved in the plaintiffs' suit against Glen Mills.

The 150-page lawsuit follows multiple ongoing investigations, following a series of reports by The Philadelphia Inquirer. The state Department of Human Services previously ordered the emergency evacuation of all remaining boys at Glen Mills. While they lay off staff, Glen Mills is appealing the removal order and the revocation of its license.

Glen Mills leaders have denied all abuse allegations. A Glen Mills spokeswoman responded, saying its attorneys and the school are now evaluating the lawsuit, and it looks forward to its appeal process with the state.