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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Thursday, April 02, 2009

More on LaBrew's alleged abuse of children

by folkbum

I got forwarded the following letter, by Glenda Haynes, about LaBrew Troopers Military University School. There was an email attached to the letter (Haynes emailed later to offer an edited-for-typos version):
I was the K5 teacher at Labrew the school that I have worked to close down after seeing daily abuse of the children; sponsored by our tax dollars. I wrote President Obama, Gwen Moore, Feingold, the Mayor, Governor and DPI. I had the building inspector notified, the health department and called child protection and gave the names of almost 17 children; but there are hundreds more that have been abused. I have contacted an attorney for a class-action law suite for the children. Child protection went to the police on last 3/27/09 and the police came to talk to me that same day. I have provided recordings of the meetings concerning the abuse and video. Myself as well as two other teachers have come forth on the kids behalf. And with all this the police tells me that because none of the children have been injured where they have gone to the hospital they may not pursue it, and this was said to me before they had even talked to children, teachers, or listened to my tapes. They say they may just go after him for money fraud concerning the use of the voucher and food monies. I am angry.
As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported this morning, the school is indeed closed, and has been since March 9, apparently because the withholding of nearly $400,000 in voucher funding has left the school without funds to continue. This is different from what Haynes says here--and what she told me on the phone--which is that investigations begun by Milwaukee's Child Protective Services and the Milwaukee Police Department her contacting the city (corrected) halted operations. I mean, not that either one of those is a good thing for the school, not at all. But I should note the discrepancy.

When I talked to Haynes this afternoon, she was very emotional and upset. Upset in part at Alan Borsuk's MJS story focused too much on the financials and LaBrew's staff denying the charges of abuse, and that she and other parents come off as "disgruntled," when really the charges are more serious than that. (Interestingly, when I talked to Borsuk this afternoon, he said he'd just spent an hour on the phone with Shan Owens, "Commander" at the school, who was convinced Borsuk was a "tool of WEAC" and ran the story to try to influence the state superintendent election next week. Can't win for losing some times.)

But Haynes was also upset that this story, which she has apparently been trying to tell for some time, has not attracted the kind of attention that Daniel Acker's alleged abuse has. Haynes complained that one 30-years-later allegation of abuse was all it took to get the ball rolling against Acker, who worked with white suburban kids; but dozens of allegations from African American families against this school are going unnoticed.

And the allegations below are pretty shocking. She told me of the videos and recording mentioned there, including, she claims, LaBrew employees--"Drill Sergeants," they are called--admitting to serious physical abuses on tape. This treatment was hinted at in Borsuk's story, and he told me that he did indeed meet with Haynes and others and heard what he indicated were poor-quality recordings. This is not the first time that Labrew has been criticized for the way it treats its students. The school was called on the carpet about two years ago for punishing students by feeding them bread and water--and taking the full reimbursement for school lunches from the state.

Obviously, law enforcement is going to look into what there is, and if something is prosecutable, I would hope that those charged will be pursued to the fullest extent of the law. Haynes stressed, though, that if LaBrew keeps getting away with this abuse--and she was clear in calling it child abuse, repeatedly--that it merely teaches the lesson that as long as you don't break any kids' bones, you can get away with it.

Here's her letter, dated March 7. I'm pretty sure I'm the only "media" outlet with it so far:
My name is Glenda Haynes. I have been working and volunteering in the community with youth for over 25 years. And I am writing to you to ask for your help in preventing the private (voucher) school “Labrew Troopers University School” owner Shan Owens from ever operating any school dealing with children; due to the serious physical , mental, and verbal abuse done to the children. There are also the dangerous conditions concerning sanitation of the day to day operations of the building.

I began working with “Labrew in Oct. of 08, as a temporary job for myself as I awaited a position with the Sheriffs dept. It wasn’t long after working there that it became apparent that things were not right. Children were getting their arms bent as far up their backs as they could go, smashed face first into walls and a full run, dragged, arms pulled up into the air and then their wrist is bent trying to force their fingers to touch their wrist, and verbal abuse.

Also, concerning the sanitation conditions, this building has no windows, no ventilation system to bring in air or circulate air. The bathrooms are filthy and we can go weeks without soap in them. There is no sink in the kitchen. I saw the cook washing two serving spoons in the girls bathroom sink. I video taped the cook washing the serving food pans in the slop mop sink. There is so much more, but it all can’t be put into this letter.

I am requesting your assistance, as well as others. I am writing the President, going to the Journal, and calling child protection to go and get the stories of the children for abuse charges. When my efforts to try and change this place and making demanding complaints fell on deaf ears I started to collect evidence to take for help. I have tapped our last staff meetings and the video of the dish washing. But before I could get more the school has taken an early spring break (Mar. 9 – 23) due to owing the state over 200,000. What I understand is that they plan on closing and re-applying as another private voucher school. This can not happen please! I have already contacted my K5 class where I became the teacher. All the parents are willing to allow their children to tell their stories. Please I need your help, the children need your help.

Glenda Haynes

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