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Jim Thorpe Area Schools Could be Forced to Add Students with Criminal Records

JIM THORPE — School`s out for the summer at Jim Thorpe Area High School.

But teachers, students, and parents wonder who will be in the classrooms next fall?

“I`m sure student safety is a concern for them,” said Superintendent Dr. Barbara Conway, who plans a community meeting Monday.

Parents and teachers recently learned the private company that runs Camp Adams Juvenile Center, in Penn Forest Township could soon stop on-site education.

If that happens, teens serving time at the camp would be bussed to Jim Thorpe Area High School.

“We must treat, those residents as though they are residents of the district because they are,” said Superintendent Conway.

When parents learned of this possibility, many were concerned about their kids going to school with kids from Camp Adams, which is home to about 50 juveniles sent there by a judge after being convicted of crimes.

“If they`ve been removed by a court, I don`t think they should be in our school,” said Danielle Rodriguez, who has a daughter at Jim Thorpe Area High.  “There should be an alternative school for them.”

“I don`t think too many people would be for that,” added Sean Conway, who also has a child in high school.  “There`s so much negativity surrounding that camp.”

And a man who has worked with troubled teens in Carbon County says it’s hard to convince people to have an open mind.

“With the right guidance from a good teacher, and the community behind them, they`ll be fine,” said Frank Phillips of Jim Thorpe.

The reason kids at the work camp might be sent to Jim Thorpe Area High:  money.

The camp says it gets the same amount of state money per student as Jim Thorpe Area students.  But the camp says it gets no money from school property taxes.  Youth Services Agency, the company that runs the camp emailed us this statement. “We simply cannot continue our on-site school at half the amount spent on the average (Jim Thorpe Area) student.”

When asked if Jim Thorpe Area Schools were told they will have to take on the kids from the juvenile facility, Superintendent Conway responded, “No we have not.  There have been discussions, but no we have not officially been told.”

If the kids at Camp Adams are educated at Jim Thorpe Area High next year, the district would be reimbursed by the school districts where the juvenile offenders are from, to pay for taking on the extra students.

One other possibility: Jim Thorpe Area Schools could hire teachers and staffers to operate the school at the camp, but that is seen as an expensive solution.

The community meeting on the matter is scheduled this coming Monday at 6PM at the Jim Thorpe Area High School Auditorium.

37 comments

  • crackers81

    It’s very disheartening to see the vitriol here towards these kids and symptomatic of a nation-wide attitude problem we have towards people with offenses. Why is it we expect people to be “felons for life”? And why then do we also go out of our way to create social and economic circumstances for these offenders that practically guarantees they become repeat offenders?

    I understand there is a level of offense that precludes reintegration into civilized society, but I’m not seeing any of this nuance entering the conversation. People deserve another chance and the only opportunity many of these people have to become decent members of society is to experience decent society. What do you fail to understand about the notion that if you treat a person like a criminal they’ll act like a criminal? This is ESPECIALLY true of kids who are more prone to peer pressure and pressure from their local environments than adults.

    I’m ashamed of my community for failing to exercise a little basic compassion. These kids are paying for their behavior and being reintegrated into society, and you’re all mad about it. Even beyond the basic human decency issue you are all causing is the fact that by treating these kids like lepers does ensure they are subjected to social and economic circumstances that will push them back to criminal behavior, thus shooting yourselves in the foot communally! What failure of elementary logic has occurred in Jim Thorpe that we think we can have less criminal elements in our community while doing the very thing that help to ensure criminal elements ARE there?

    Tough on crime doesn’t work in all cases. It’s a self defeating concept and inhumane.

  • Unreal

    There is only one reason why this camp is changing things they have done for years and that is $$$$$. Is it the taxpayers fault they can’t run their school? The reason why they want to do this is they can’t get certified teachers to work there for $30,000 a year and work a full 12 month schedule. The place is a joke and a few people profit from it (mostly the Dawson family)
    The camp pays it’s staff $9-10 hr do u think they care about their jobs!!!!!
    Residents of Jim Thorpe band together and don’t take in this so called “treatment facility”

  • Ugotta B. Joking

    Quote from 6/4/2014 Times News:
    ” Patrick Constellation, a former police officer and employee at Camp Adams, wanted to make the board and the township residents aware of some of what he said goes on at the camp.
    “When I worked there I couldn’t say anything due to confidentiality,” Constellation said. “But everything you worry about that might be going on there, is. There are runaways, sexual assaults, everything you worry about. And I want to point out that the camp is now co-ed, not just young men anymore.”

    “Are you saying we should look into closing the camp?” Reiner asked.

    “No, I am just concerned about the kids and the residents. But you should be concerned, very concerned,” Constellation responded.”

  • GetOffYourHighHorse

    As a JTHS graduate I can tell you that school fights, bullying and all the things some parents say don’t occur at JTHS do occur. You don’t want these Camp Adams youth attending JTHS because they have criminal records then half the students at JTHS need to be kicked out. Don’t sit there and act like the kids attending JTHS don’t underage drink or smoke pot or do worse drugs. The only difference between them and the Camp Adams youth is they haven’t been caught yet. Everyone is entitled to a proper education. If we don’t take the time to educate these “delinquents” then they will be doomed to keep making the same mistakes. Again this is public school if you don’t like it pay for private or move.

    • crackers81

      It’s just the communal delusion of the “purity of the all American small town” in action. I’ve been lucky enough in life to get to live a wide variety of places, from dense urban inner cities to rural shires that seem somehow removed from time. And I can tell you without fail that small towns are harbors of far more crime than bigger cities.

      You are %100 correct: Bullying, drug and alcohol use, delinquent behavior of all varieties are occurring. And not just at Jim Thorpe, but in every single high school in every small town in America. It’s the nature of the beast. It cannot be stopped entirely, though it can be mitigated with reasonable action provided you have genuinely intelligent people at the helm of your local schools.

      Pretending it doesn’t exist is silly, and again symptomatic of that antiquated notion that small town America is somehow a bastion of purity. And these kids coming back into decent society DESERVE their chance to live product lives. How can they do that if we chose to treat them like animals forever? They’re paying the price for their crimes, and once square with the state, should not be rejected their right to be a part of their community.

  • lovely7

    Why not send them to BHA or IU #21? Those folks are specialized for these types of children. Cyber school is also a wonderful way for them to receive a quality education.

  • Ugotta B. Joking

    Funny- To work on any public school property (teachers, staff, even construction workers) you have to have a crimnial background clearance per PA law- yet criminal offenders can attend classes?? If Camp Adams cannot afford to educate the children they are supposed to be rehabilitating- then it should close. Send them somewhere else. Leave our schools alone!

  • misskate

    This, I am afraid, is a lose-lose for all kids including those from the camp. As is already evidenced by previous comments, these students will be very discriminated against by parents, other students and likely most teachers. This is an added barrier to their education when they are already dealing with so many challenges. I teach SED students (socially emotionally disturbed) and know very few regular ed teachers are equipped to handle their special needs. This stresses the teachers, all of the students and detracts from the learning environment for everyone. If a private company is profitting from rehabilitating these children they should be responsible for providing them with a proper education with properly trained teachers and staff.

  • I hate whiners

    I think everyone is forgetting that JTHS is a public school, if you really feel that threatened then pay the money to send your children to privat school! Oh, is that too much money? Then deal with it and shut up, teach your kids to see the good in people and to stay away from people that bring them down everyone in life needs to learn that

    • Jim Brony

      Next week the counties are going to allow convicted criminals from county lockups in your neighborhood to do public works. There will only be one person overseeing dozens of prisoners that will be free to run if they wish. Their crimes have only been minor infractions – DUI, possession, shoplifting – as far as you know. Don’t like that idea? Then install a security system in your home and hire your own police to protect your family and home. Can’t afford it? Too bad. A public school is for residents of the district that pay taxes into it and they should expect a reasonable level of security for their children. Injecting an undesirable element that ordinarily would not be there is asking for trouble.

    • I PITY WHINERS

      Are you stupid? Do you know the people around there? The last thing they need is to have to spend half their paycheck on a private school. A private school which isn’t a two hour drive from there. And did you ever consider the emotional impact on kids if they do move schools? They have lives and friends, you know! And if you think that simply telling kids to stay away from the new students will work, WRONG. What if they’re in the same class? What if they’re threatened? YOU need to be the one schooled about this matter, literally. How about we throw you in there at the school and see how you react then?

    • Jim Brony

      Your comment is so absurd it requires more than one reply. So you say kids should just stay away from those that cause them trouble and bring them down. Did you even go to school? How are they supposed to do that when they are in the same class together? You’re not one for critical thinking, are you?

  • Ace12345

    This is a terrible idea. If JTHS has never had stabbing, school fight, intense bully, theft and disruption problems well it’s now gonna happen. These kids are in a facility for a criminal reasons. To put these criminals near other kids would be dangerous and unfair to JTHS students who are law obeying. Parents, I suggest you protest very loudly. Otherwise you nice school is gonna turn into a NYC high school.

    • MWM

      I have seen just as much if not MORE garbage here than I have ever seen in a NYC high school actually and your garbage stinx just as much. Regardless of what city, state, town, etc.. someone lives in, brick-n-mortar schools will become the juvie-halls and all the mainstream students will end up at home with Cyber-Schooling given the parade of corrupt teachers, school officials lately, as well as the increasing number of dysfunctional students from dysfunctional gene pools.

  • Kevin

    Disruptive criminal students being forced on our kids. So intensely obviously bad enough they cant go too their own district schools. If you want too teach them a lesson send them to the south Bronx schools.

    • Eaeani

      My question would be: if JT school district would get money from the school districts that the students were originally from why is that money not sent to Camp Adams to pay for the kids education? It seems if they received the federal money per student and the additional money from the original district they would have plenty of money to fund the education. They can establish a charter school for the camp. As a private company when they bid on the contracts to run this type of facility education was included in it ( or i would hope so ) and should not now be farmed out to a public school that does not have the resources to deal with 50 kids with emotional and behavioural problems. The amount of money they would get from the other schools would not be enough to add additional counselors. There are also many online high schools available today that would allow the students to receive an education ( and in some cases better then the public schools) while allowing them to remain in a supportive environment that is suited to their needs. There are many questions that should be asked and answered prior to this even being suggested.

      • MWM

        That’s how it used to be done years ago and it actually worked to everyone’s benefit! Particularly for the troubled youth, they were forced into a position to either make it or break it.

  • Worked there

    I worked there for five years. For your children’s safety and education, property and overall community safety do not let these individuals go to the school. I have incidents I could rattle off for pages they caused in the on site school settings alone. Don’t do it.

  • Jamanyha

    Hazleton deals with the same stuff. It is 100% unfair for al the students who do care, but if you keep to yourself, coming from a student in Hazleton, you’ll be fine. I get hit with paper airplanes on a daily basis because I’m an honors kid. I get made fun of because I don’t talk to people. We all have to learn how to deal with good and bad people eventually.

    • s craigie

      BAAAAAHAHAHA ROFLMAO!! u r dum hahha. hopefuly a real plain hits u 1 day. and also im kinda old not really tho but still remember spelling from spelling and class. learn how to spell and not the kind u cast neither duh cause im sure ud confuse it. what a loserrrr

      • e

        S CRAIGIE you are the most disgusting piece of trash I have ever encountered. I wish I could be there when karma gives you what you deserve and taunt you while you are lying in a hospital bed dying of cancer. It would be so funny for me to laugh at you as you reached out to me for sympathy. Ha ha ha ha ha ha! I would take pictures and frame them to remember the moment forever. Lol. Seeing trash like you get what they deserve is what life is all about. Also I’m glad you’re father beat you because you are clearly deserving. ROFL.

  • jimmy

    I was in those facilities as a teenager and a lot of teens In there are there for failed urine tests or simple things camp Adams isn’t a hardcore placement it’s where a lot of minor offenders go

  • Holly B

    I worked for one of.these facilities and let me tell you, most of.these.kids have issues far deeper than The crimes they’ve committed. It’s not fair to other students. Public schools are not equipped with enough behavior staff to deal with this….and with all the budget cuts cannot afford to hire more staff.let me just tell you I am tough as nails, but the riots at Lourdesmont Led by 3 dorms full of all girls Occurred despite kind and caring staff.

  • Scott

    As a kid who went to Camp Adams, I think its a good idea. So the kids made some crappy choices and is doing his time. They have every right for an equal education. You don’t receive the same education” behind bars”. And just for you people who discriminate against them youth, I have my diploma and associates degree. So stop judging a book by its cover.

  • retrocollectors

    The people who will defend these criminals and suggest that everybody else ought to calm down and let them invade a school with decent children are people who won’t have to deal with the consequences of an invasion of thugs in their child’s school.

    It’s about time we, as a society, stop bending over backwards to include people who have excluded themselves by their behavior. If they rehabilitate themselves, THEN they will have earned the privilege of being treated as a normal member of society. Until then, they should be treated as criminals and isolated.

  • Susan Barletto Hewitt

    This is not a good idea. My nephew was hurt very badly by a student who was from a juvenile home in NJ. He had to have reconstructive surgery on his face and was in the hospital for several weeks. He has been out of school for several months while he heals and also has to wear glasses because he has double vision now. It has effected our family greatly and if I had to vote on this I would vote no!!!

      • MWM

        There is a difference between making a mistake, and deliberately making bad choices such as beating someone up because you can and speaking of bad choices like your irrelevant comment which coddles troublemakers rather than reforming them. They don’t belong mainstream because they refuse to conform to the mainstream altho here in NEPA dysfunction seems to be the “new mainstream!”

  • Me

    Can’t fix stupid. Yep. Let the thugs and drugs move into our public schools. These kids broke the law. How do they deserve a public education ??? Teach them while they are in custody behind bars WHERE THEY BELONG. They are there for a REASON !!!!!!!!

    Jim Thorpe is full of dopes !

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