Officials call for deeper investigation into Glen Mills abuse allegations

Steve Tawa
March 06, 2019 - 2:11 pm
Officials call for deeper investigations into Glen Mills abuse.

Steve Tawa/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Members of Philadelphia City Council, the Pennsylvania House, and child abuse advocates are calling for independent investigations of Glen Mills Schools following allegations of staff physical abuse and administration cover-ups. 

There has been increased scrutiny on the oldest school in the country for delinquent boys since last summer, when two staffers allegedly beat a 17-year-old student, caught on video. The scrutiny increased even more when an extensive investigation by The Philadelphia Inquirer was published Feb. 25.

RELATED: 2 former Glen Mills counselors charged with assaulting teen

Philadelphia has pulled more than 50 young students from the school. Jurisdictions within and outside of the commonwealth are also removing their students. The city, Delaware County and others have put a moratorium on sending more juveniles to Glen Mills.

"Enough is enough. My message is directly to the administration of Glen Mills," said state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta. "For too long, (they have) obscured the facts and avoided accountability."

"If criminal or civil laws were broken, people need to be held accountable. None of us will sit quiet while children are abused," Kenyatta continued. 

Advocates are calling on the state attorney general, the auditor general, the Department of Human Services, and the U.S. attorney to investigate decades of institutionalized alleged abuse.

Judy Silver, a volunteer with the nonprofit Public Citizens for Children and Youth, said Glen Mills appears to have "a longstanding culture of brutal and abusive practices."

"With its intimidation of the kids, even the intimidation of their parents, when they try to advocate for their families and children," she said. 

RELATED: Philly yanking its kids from Glen Mills Schools after reports of abuse, cover-ups​

Councilwoman Helen Gym said, "it's not just a few bad apples there."

"The horrifying abuse, the potential of conspiracy around coverups, and the shameful response of Glen Mills' leadership has shocked us all," said Gym. 

Councilman Kenyatta Johnson wants Philadelphia to cancel its contract with Glen Mills. The school receives taxpayer money, including a tuition of $52,000 per year for each boy from Philadelphia. He also wants a change in leadership.

"It's always been known as a culture of violence at the Glen Mills Schools, and that's what we have to change, across the board," said Johnson. 

Johnson wants the new Executive Director Christopher Spriggs removed, because of his former job, in what Johnson calls "the culture of protection at Glen Mills."

"His responsibility was oversight over how these young people were being taken care of. So, he was responsible for dealing with the complaints," said Johnson.

Glen Mills officials have disputed "all the allegations and conclusions" in The Philadelphia Inquirer article.

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CORRECTION: The story has been updated to show that Judy Silver is a volunteer with Public Citizens for Children and Youth.