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Logan River Academy is a residential treatment facility in Utah, a state where there is comparable lack of oversight and relevant legislation to safe guard vulnerable students in residential programs (1.) We believe in the merit of scientifically tested and accepted residential treatment programs, but do not believe the program at LRA is either. LRA's residential program is not properly accredited (2,) they belong to NATSAP, a non-accrediting voluntary membership organization which gives the appearance of accreditation/licensure, but that does not enforce any professional and/or ethical standards on its member programs (3.)

Our own research into these programs has turned up very scary things. The policies in place at Logan River Academy, detailed below, are not only cruel, they are ineffective and, in our opinion, fraudulent. Their harsh discipline policies have the end effect of cheaply warehousing kids while they accept $7,500 - $8,900 per child per month from naive parents and courts. We understand they pay many of their staff, who have direct supervision of special needs kids, close to minimum wage.

Although there were meetings on Capitol Hill, and The House of Representatives even passed a bill (4,) clearly stating the problem, it remains (5):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2KzAUB7sgE&list=UUu7v65ausH6Q9XMlxETjTBA

The Government Accountability Office has done a report as well:
http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08146t.pdf

Many students in this program spend most of their days sitting straight forward, not allowed to move, look at another student, or make any noise; think detention but much longer and more strict. The program calls it “DEVO” (6) and they hand it out for any and all infractions; for example, one student was punished with a significant amount (hours) of “DEVO” time for returning to his room with a moist towelette from the dining area to clean his glasses, thinking it was permitted. They called it contraband and gave him excessive “DEVO,” time. This is just one example. We have first hand accounts of students receiving up to 2000 “DEVO,” hours for a single infraction and students spending over 100 consecutive days in “DEVO.”

“DEVO,” is short for “development.” A true and tragic irony given the consequences of its imposition on children.

There is another level of “DEVO,” that is much worse. It is called “Precaution.” Some students report allegations of being stripped naked for it. I fear that it is so they cannot strangle themselves with their clothing (7) (8.) If true this strategy may also mean they are improperly attempting to care for suicide risks without the proper facilities and personnel. Other students report spending every waking moment in “DEVO,” on “Precaution,” completely isolated from peers for up to 30 days on end (8.) During this time they don't attend class, they don't develop socially, they are forced to sit still and quiet. According to the American Academy of Chlid & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) (9.:)

“The potential psychiatric consequences of prolonged solitary confinement are well recognized and include depression, anxiety and psychosis. Due to their developmental vulnerability, juvenile offenders are at particular risk of such adverse reactions. Furthermore, the majority of suicides in juvenile correctional facilities occur when the individual is isolated or in solitary confinement.

Solitary confinement should be distinguished from brief interventions such as "time out," which may be used as a component of a behavioral treatment program in facilities serving children and/or adolescents, or seclusion, which is a short term emergency procedure, the use of which is governed by federal, state and local laws and subject to regulations developed by the Joint Commission, CARF and supported by the National Commission of Correctional Healthcare (NCHHC), the American Correctional Association (ACA) and other accrediting entities.

The Joint Commission states that seclusion should only be used for the least amount of time possible for the immediate physical protection of an individual, in situations where less restrictive interventions have proven ineffective. The Joint Commission specifically prohibits the use of seclusion "as a means of coercion, discipline, convenience or staff retaliation." A lack of resources should never be a rationale for solitary confinement.”

I am unable to find any scientific literature regarding the benefits and success rate of “DEVO.” In fact, I am unable to find any scientific literature or studies about it at all (10.) In my opinion, it is pseudoscience at best and torture at worst. We know that one student who was just removed from the program had been placed in solitary confinement at least twice.

The National Institutes of Health have established guidelines for effective child discipline (11.) They are:
“To be effective, discipline needs to be:
    given by an adult with an affective bond to the child;
    consistent, close to the behaviour needing change;
    perceived as ‘fair’ by the child;
    developmentally and temperamentally appropriate; and
    self-enhancing, ie, ultimately leading to self-discipline.”

Also according to AACAP (12:)

“Be sure that the residential program has a method of maintaining safe behaviors, promoting positive behaviors, and preventing aggression. Make sure that punishments and verbal intimidations are prohibited.”

Hours and hours of timeout lasting long after an infraction, doled out by complete strangers who are often perceived as sadistic fails to meet a single one of these standards. Further, the Child Welfare League of America says of timeout (13,) “Sometimes children need time to calm down and collect themselves. (Adults do to!) Used sparingly, with consistency and repetition, it must be viewed as teaching the child, not punishing.”

Certainly hours and hours of what I'll call “enhanced” detention is not “sparingly,” and must be considered “punishing."

The United States Surgeon General has also weighed in on the matter (14:)

“In behavioral token programs, youths are rewarded for conforming to rules, exhibiting prosocial behavior, and not exhibiting antisocial or violent behavior. Like some other residential approaches, behavioral token programs can have positive effects on targeted behaviors while youths are institutionalized. However, when this strategy is used alone, any such effects disappear when youths leave the program.”

In addition to this, no truly independent entity is able to monitor the students' progress and wellbeing, or more importantly the lack thereof. You see, while the students are made to suffer for minor infractions, the administration of the facility do not hold themselves accountable for their own poor and dangerous results. As noted in their state accreditation report they have a very high staff turnover rate and do not provide student performance data or curriculum maps (15.)

Please tell the parents of the children at LRA that they have made the wrong choice for their children and to remove them from the program before any more emotional damage is inflicted on them. Please tell the Los Angeles Unifed School District (and all other public districts) to immediately remove any students from Logan River Academy and to cease sending students there. Please tell Logan River Academy to stop using their “DEVO” techniques, that they are dangerous, unnecessary and counterproductive to nurturing intact adults. In many cases the families of these kids have been tricked by, in my opinion, snake oil salesman to sending/keeping their children to/in these programs against their will. These kids, and please remember: they are kids - are innocent despite their behavioral problems, and have been left with no other advocates.

References:
(1) http://www.deseretnews.com/article/991002/Boarding-schools-go-unchecked-in-Utah.html?pg=all
(2) http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0185-residential-treatment-programs-teens
(3) http://natsap.org/natsap-members/how-to-become-a-member/
(4) http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr3126
(5) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2KzAUB7sgE&list=UUu7v65ausH6Q9XMlxETjTBA
(6) http://wiki.fornits.com/index.php?title=Logan_River_Academy
(7) http://www.fornits.com/phpbb/index.php?topic=16654.0
(8) http://www.fornits.com/phpbb/index.php?topic=16654.15
(9) http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Policy_Statements/2012/Solitary_Confinement_of_Juvenile_Offenders.aspx
(10) https://www.google.com/search?client=ubuntu&channel=fs&q=DEVO+boundary+behavior&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8
(11) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2719514/
(12) http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/Facts_for_Families_Pages/Residential_Treatment_Programs_97.aspx
(13) https://web.archive.org/web/20131217183753/http://www.cwla.org/positiveparenting/tipsdiscipline.htm
(14) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK44295/#A13025
(15) http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/accred/Reports/DOCS/Logan-River-VT-report-2009.aspx

To:
Logan River Academy
Larry Carter, Owner - Logan River Academy
Lori Connin, Owner - Logan River Academy
Mark Petersen, Owner - Logan River Academy
Mont Criddle, LMFT, Residential Director - Logan River Academy
Shannon Kegerries, CMHC - Logan River Academy
Maureen McDonald, Clinical Services & Academic Coordinator - Logan River Academy
Mike Bodrero, Adventure Learning Coordinator - Logan River Academy
Heather Capson, Admissions - Logan River Academy
Kirk Farmer, Director of Academics - Logan River Academy
Liz Severe, Registered Nurse - Logan River Academy
Jeff Smith, Owner - Logan River Academy
Omid Gohari, niche.com
Kat Eden - (650) 366-3380 Ext. 2218, Director, Marketing Communications - Education.com
Ray Renati, Logan River Academy Parent - 650-245-9026
Debra Duardo - 213-241-3840, Executive Director - Student Health & Human Services, LA Unified School District
Sharyn Howell - 213-241-6701, Executive Director - Special Education, LA Unified School District
Terri Barach, Therapist Intern - Outreach Children - 800-492-2731 or 714-547-1163
Dan Barach
Annette Bohling, J.D. Chief Accreditation Officer - AdvancED

To Terri & Dan Barach,
Apologize publicly to your son, an innocent child, whom you confined against his will in a cruel manner for nearly a year with neither due process nor a real medical need. Start doing someting about Logan River.

Logan River Academy,
Stop using your "development"/"Precaution"/isolation techniques, they are dangerous, unnecessary and counterproductive to nurturing intact adults.

Annette Bohling & AdvancED,
Perform a fully independant investigation of Logan River Academy and their policies, requiring them abide by NIH, FTC, Surgeon General, and AACAP guidelines to maintain accredidation - so they don't harm their clients.

Debra Duardo, Sharyn Howell & LA USD,
Immediately remove all LA USD students from Logan River Academy and cease sending students there on IEPs.

Ray Renati,
Pull your child from Logan River Academy now.

Omid Gohari & Kat Eden,
Delist Logan River Academy as psychologytoday.com, autismspeaks.org, privateschoolreview.com, merchantcircle.com, highschoolcube.com, and others already have.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

Please click here to sign this petition on change.org


Why Online Reviews, Signatures, Likes, Followers, Shares, Tweets, +1s, etc. Matter

In our advocacy work online we often encounter the following: “Online petitions don't do anything,” or “Writing reviews online isn't going to force positive change,” and many other variations of the above.

While it is true that online petitions can rarely force change, especially from non-government entities, non-government entities are still subject to market forces. In our case, Logan River Academy can only stay open if parents and courts continue to pay to enroll children there. Nowadays a lot of consumers lookup businesses online before making purchasing decisions. When parents Google “Logan River Academy,” they will find the petition, they will see over 2,000 signatures and counting. The larger that number becomes the larger its psychological impact on the reader. Prospective Logan River parents can read the comments on the bottom of the petition left by survivors & parents (although, obviously, not all of them will.) However, for those that do, let me put it this way, would you send your child to an institution with such reviews and which thousands of people are protesting due to human rights violations?

The same goes for reviews on other sites, including Google+ Reviews which are the most prominent since they show up on Page 1 of Google search results. Showing up on Page 1 of relevant Google searches is a worthy goal for ANY online activism. It makes it difficult for the target to operate their business and can ultimately put them out of business. As the nation saw during the Civil Rights Movement, market forces, such as boycotts, can cause change.

So how does an activist organization get onto page 1 of Google results for a given search? It's all about having other websites link to you. Nowadays though, links are not enough, they must be “follow,” links, or more accurately they must not be “nofollow,” links for Google to count them towards “PageRank.”
“PageRank,” is Google's method of ordering search results and determining which results to display first. Every web page Google indexes is scored by “PageRank,” and the pages with the highest “PageRank,” scores are displayed first for a given search.

Unfortunately, links on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and most other big websites, even Wikipedia, are all “nofollow,” meaning they do not boost the Google “PageRank,” scores of the sites they are linking to. Links from personal websites, blogs, & independent media organizations usually count, although in the end it is up to the website admin of the linking page. We use “nofollow,” links to link to NATSAP pages where they state they are not an accrediting body. It is useful for us to link to such pages, as many parents are purposefully mislead to believe NATSAP is an accrediting body, however we obviously don't want to help NATSAP increase their “PageRank,” in any way.

Now, this is not to say that likes, followers, etc. matter less than “follow,” links. Without a strong social media base, there wouldn't be much for anyone to link to. Also, the fact that we have two times more likes & several times more followers than Logan River speaks loudly to anyone who takes the time to listen. In addition, practically all the "follow," links we have come through social media introductions. Success in Social Media and Google “PageRank,” are symbiotic and feed into each other. We need both in order to win.

We do everything we can to cross-pollinate online. Our petition, Facebook, Twitter, & G+ pages point to our website. Our website in turn offers visitors a single place where they can Like us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter, +1 us on Google+, subscribe to us on YouTube, and find our petition. All of this is to hopefully have not just signatures, but also likes, followers, links etc. which can lead to additional signatures, likes, followers, links etc. in the future.

We know that our online presence continues to deter parents from considering Logan River Academy for their children and every signature, like, follower, +1, etc. makes us more prominent. So, please do not allow others to make you believe your voice online doesn't count and can't help bring about change.