- A reform school outside of Philidelphia is laying off 250 employees after several investigations revealed a history of abuse by staff.
- The investigations cite students being physically beaten, in some cases to the point where bones were broken or students were knocked unconscious.
- The DHS has also ordered that all students be removed from the school’s campus.
Staff Laid Off
A reform school outside of Philidelphia is laying off 250 staff members after investigations uncovered years of abuse against its students.
Glen Mills Schools is the oldest operating reform school in the United States. The prestigious all-boys institution has been described as the “Harvard of reform schools,” and students from around the nation head to Pennsylvania to attend it.
But on Tuesday, the school sent out a statement saying that it has already notified 80 employees and that the rest of the lay-offs will be carried throughout the week. They also thanked the staff for “their commitment to the school’s mission and helping to pave the way to a new path in life for countless young men.”
On March 25, the DHS issued an Emergency Removal Order for students on campus. It states that the conditions on campus, “Constitute gross incompetence, negligence and misconduct in operating a facility, including mistreatment and abuse of clients, likely to constitute immediate and serious danger to the life or health of the children in care.”
“Accordingly, it is hereby ordered that the residents be relocated from the child residential facility as promptly as can be safely accomplished,” the order mandates.
Investigations Uncover Physical Abuse
Both investigations uncovered disturbing allegations. The DHS cited several instances of violence perpetrated by staff members. Some of these actions include: A staff member choking a student and pushing them against a wall, causing them to hit their head; a staff member injuring a student’s eye and forcing them to say they hurt themselves playing basketball; three staff members choking one student and pushing him to the ground; and a student being punched by staff several times in the chest and forehead.
The Inquirer also listed instances of physical violence. According to their report, a counselor broke a student’s jaw after he made a comment about the counselor’s sister.
Investigations also showed that the school made an effort to cover their actions. One boy told the Inquirer that their phone calls were monitored to prevent them from telling anyone outside of the school about their abuse.
“They’ll give you a minute phone call and stand right next to you to make sure you don’t tell your mom anything,” he said.
A mother that The Inquirer spoke to also said the school worked to silence her after she learned her son was knocked unconscious by a staff member. Glen Mills said she could report the incident to DHS, but her son would likely get sent to a different school with a worse reputation.
“They basically gave me an ultimatum,” she said. “It was ‘Do you want to tell, or do you want to throw it under the rug?’ ”
Glen Mills Reacts to Investigations
The Inquirer said it reached out to the school’s Executive Director Randy Ireson during their investigation, but he always declined to interview via a spokesperson. However, In February, Glen Mills released a notice just days after The Inquirer told them about the details of their investigation. The school said it would be reviewing reports of misconduct with the help of students, staff, parents, and experts.
“The Glen Mills Schools (“Glen Mills”) announced today the formation of a special panel that will commence an in-depth review into reports of misconduct in order to provide the highest level of accountability and transparency and identify areas of opportunity for change,” the statement read.
“The review will gather information from current and former students and staff, as well as parents and other affiliates of Glen Mills. The panel will operate entirely free from the influence or supervision of Glen Mills leadership and staff. Glen Mills has asked for an informed and objective review by external subject matter experts.”
Once The Inquirer published their investigation, Ireson announced he would be taking a leave of absence, citing health reasons.
Where Glen Mills Stands Now
Investigations into the abuse at Glen Mills are still ongoing. Currently, the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office, the Pennsylvania auditor general, and the state inspector general, all have open investigations into the school.
And on March 27, two former students launched a lawsuit against Glen Mills. They are seeking unspecified compensation and damages, as well as demanding the school turn over all records related to abuse of students from the last two decades.
See What Others Are Saying: (Philly.com) (CBS 3) (Fox 29)
Biden Issues Targeted Eviction Moratorium for Counties With High Community Transmission
While more limited than the previous eviction ban, the new policy applies to all areas with “substantial” and “high” COVID transmission, which currently includes 80% of counties that compose 90% of the population.
New Eviction Ban
Three days after the federal eviction ban expired, the Biden administration issued a new, more limited moratorium that will extend until Oct. 3.
Unlike the last freeze, the latest version announced Tuesday only pertains to areas of the country experiencing what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labeled “substantial” and “high” cases of COVID-19.
However, the rule still applies to the majority of the country given the new surges driven by the delta variant.
According to the CDC, 80% of counties that make up 90% of the population are currently experiencing substantial or high community transmission.
While not a full ban, many housing still advocates cheered the Biden administration, which has faced immense pressure to help the millions of Americans who risked losing their homes once the previous freeze expired.
“This is a tremendous relief for millions of people who were on the cusp of losing their homes and, with them, their ability to stay safe during the pandemic,” Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said in a statement Tuesday.
Still, others noted that there are outstanding issues with the new policy.
First and foremost, while the moratorium covers most Americans, it does not cover all. According to reports, there are counties in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York that are protected from evictions while neighboring counties are not.
The county-to-county patchwork also adds another layer of confusion for many people who are on the brink of eviction or who have already been evicted.
Tenants and landlords are now scrambling to see if the freeze applies to them, and because of the temporary lapse in protection, evictions resumed in some states and cities, meaning that some people who would now be covered under the ban have already been evicted.
Perhaps the most notable obstacle is the fact that the new moratorium will almost certainly face legal challenges.
The Biden administration previously argued that it did not have the jurisdiction to extend the eviction freeze unilaterally, citing a recent decision from the Supreme Court, which ruled that the CDC could not extend the ban past July and that Congressional action was needed.
Three days before the moratorium was set to expire, Biden asked Congress to pass legislation to extend it before leaving for their August recess. Republicans blocked the effort by unanimous consent, and Democratic leaders, frustrated with the president’s last-minute demand that left them with few options, said they did not have enough support for a formal vote.
Biden, for his part, has acknowledged that any freeze that comes from his administration would face this obstacle.
“Any call for [a] moratorium based on the Supreme Court’s recent decision is likely to face obstacles,” he told reporters Tuesday. “I’ve indicated to the CDC, I’d like them to look at other alternatives [other] than the one that is in existence, which the court has declared they’re not going to allow to continue.”
Any legal proceedings, however, will take time, meaning Congress could act before any disputes are resolved. The extended timeframe would also give state and local governments more leeway to distribute the nearly $47 billion in rental aid approved in the last two stimulus packages.
Only $3 billion of the funding has been distributed due to the numerous delays and hurdles municipalities have faced while struggling to create new systems to dole out the much-needed aid.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (CBS News)
Virtually All Emperor Penguins Doomed for Extinction by 2100, Study Finds
The new study comes as the U.S. The Fish and Wildlife Service moves to submit a proposal Wednesday to add the Emperor penguin to its list of threatened species.
Concerns for Emperor Penguins
Nearly all of the world’s emperor penguin colonies may be pushed to the brink of extinction by 2100, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Global Change Biology.
More specifically, researchers behind the study said 98% of the colonies could be gone in the next 80 years if climate change continues causing sea ice to melt at its current pace. About 70% of colonies could die off by 2050, it added.
That is pretty huge news because Emperor penguins — the world’s largest penguin species —are a vital part of the Antarctic food chain. They prey on krill, squid, and small fish, and provide a source of food for leopard seals and killer whales.
However, the birds are particularly vulnerable to climate change because they depend on sea ice for viral activities like breeding, feeding, and molting, along with resting or seeking refuge from predators.
U.S. Moves To Protect the Species
The new study comes as the U.S. government considers adding the Emperor penguin to its list of threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to build off this new research, along with other data, for its proposal on Wednesday. Once published in the Federal Register, the proposal will be open to a 60-day public comment period.
If the classification is granted, the species would receive protections, including a ban on importations of the birds for commercial purposes.
“These penguins are hard hit by the climate crisis, and the U.S. government is finally recognizing that threat,” Sarah Uhlemann, international program director at the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity, told the Associated Press.
“Climate change, a priority challenge for this Administration, impacts a variety of species throughout the world,” said Martha Williams, principal deputy director of the wildlife service. “The decisions made by policymakers today and during the next few decades will determine the fate of the Emperor penguin.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Hill) (AP News)
Florida Breaks Its Record for New Daily COVID-19 Cases and Hospitalizations
The Sunshine State now accounts for 20% of all new COVID-19 cases nationwide.
Florida Becomes COVID Epicenter
Florida reported 10,207 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Sunday, marking its largest single-day count to date. The grim record comes just one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing that the state had counted 21,683 new infections Friday, its highest record of daily cases since the start of the pandemic.
Florida has become the new epicenter of the most recent U.S. outbreaks driven by the delta variant. The state now accounts for one out of every five new cases, and the weekend numbers are highly significant because they surpass previous records that were logged before vaccines were readily available.
Notably, Florida’s vaccination rate is actually the exact same as the nationwide average of 49% fully vaccinated, according to The New York Times tracker. In fact, Florida’s rate is the highest among the top 10 states currently reporting the most COVID cases.
While Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has encouraged Florida residents to get vaccinated, he and the state’s legislature have also made it much harder for local officials to enforce protections to mitigate further spread.
DeSantis Bars Masking in Schools
On the same day that the state reported its highest cases ever, DeSantis signed an executive order banning school districts from requiring students to wear a mask when they go back to school later this month.
The move directly contradicts guidance issued by the CDC last week, which recommended that everyone inside K-12 schools wear a face covering.
DeSantis, for his part, has repeatedly claimed the spikes are part of “seasonal” increases driven by more people being indoors and air-conditioning systems circulating the virus. Still, he argued also Friday that he did not think masks were necessary to prevent children from transmitting COVID in the classroom, where they are inside with air conditioning.
At the same time, last week, Florida reported more than 21,000 infections among children younger than 19.
Florida is not the only state that has banned schools from requiring masks. In fact, many of the states suffering the biggest spikes have done the same, including Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas — which all currently rank among the top 10 states with the highest per capita COVID cases.