Meeting Held To Discuss Youth Offenders Attending Jim Thorpe Area Schools

JIM THORPE — Hundreds of concerned parents and students came out for a school board meeting in Jim Thorpe Monday night.

They’re concerned that the school district could be getting an influx of students from a nearby youth detention center when school resumes this fall.

Armed with concerns, fears, and outrage parents and students filed into Jim Thorpe Area High School, demanding answers.

“If these children end up in our school and say there`s 50 or 60 of them, how about the 90 or 100 kids that are going to get pulled out and home schooled?” asked one parent.

A special board meeting was held to address those questions as the district is facing a potential influx of students from Camp Adams, a nearby youth detention center.

“I want to make sure that I`m safe my senior year and I don`t have these worries because I want to make sure my senior year is what I want it to be. I don`t want to be scared,” said junior Erin Kelly.

Camp Adams says it can no longer afford an on-site school at the center and roughly 47 non-violent and low-risk young adults will need schooling next fall.

The superintendent told the crowd state law says the district has to educate those youth offenders.

“Non-resident children who are in court placements within a school district must be permitted to attend the district schools,” said Dr. Barbara Conway.

“I have a huge concern about safety, about the role models my kids will be seeing,” said parent Carol Montemuro.

However Dr. Conway says some exceptions would stop a youth offender from attending a public school.

One, a court-order, two, the student requires an alternate educational location.

Or three, a weapons violation that led to the student being expelled from their current school.

Still those stipulations did little to ease worries.

“Camp Adams has been educating their students since they`ve been here and that needs to continue and we need to make sure our kids are secure,” said parent Joe Yescavage.

The superintendent says the district is still negotiating with Youth Services Agency, which oversees Camp Adams, looking for other options for educating those juveniles.

12 comments

  • A concerned parent

    the news is reporting them as low risk non violent…look at the YSA website it is high risk. SOME of the children from camp adams are not dangerous but some are. They had a work program and they were working off their fines in a private community, two kids got into a fight and tried to throw each other in a wood chipper…. seriously that is not a something to take lightly…there are numerous stories of the bad but the sad part of all this is previous employees of camp adams have stated what you fear happens there does….well shame on the owner and the workers for letting this happen… did you ever think that it would be detrimental for the camp adam kids to be mainstreamed into the school and when the regular kids talk of a life outside of school these kids have to go back to the camp??? it is a bad situation for both..Camp adams was offered a deal of teachers and all materials and they turned it down because they want MONEY!

  • amelia

    Non-violent,low risk young adults?According to the times tribune, 3 of those non-violent low risk young adults that they are speaking of escaped from the facility, held an elderly couple at knife point, stole their car, and led the police on a high speed chase. That is just one of the horror stories I have heard. They are not there for being model citizens and there is no reason to bring them into our schools that we pay taxes to. There is no reason for our children to be exposed to any unnessisary negativity. That’s what centennial schools are for. What next, are they going to put them on our buses with only one bus driver and barely any supervison? Are they gonna be able to go out for our sports teams? They are in this facility for reasons and our children should not have to pay for their F UP’s. Horrible idea!

  • MWM

    Wow, I can’t believe what I am reading here. But it does explain A LOT about why this area is going down the tubes at a 1000 MPH. Everyone is supposed to conform to dysfunction instead of expecting other to conform to what is functional. Aren’t there reasons why these kids were at this camp in the first place? Pretty soon all you will have left then in brick-n-mortar schools are juvenile delinquents and all the mainstream kids will be homeschooled. Then we won’t have to worry about inclusion.

  • Dan

    Try to look at the entire picture, camp Adams when taken over by YSA youth services agency preached the mission of educating and rehabilitating adjudicated youth, obtained permits and build an onsite school. YSa bills the home school district for each child’s education and if a child’s home district cannot be determined the state pays the education costs. This is the same amount of money any school district would get per student from local tax. The camp gets about $300,000 a year to educate its youth. The YSA is demanding an additional $500,000 from Jim Thorpe are school district for education. That’s a total of $800,000 dollars to educate 47 youth. If JTASD wont pay the YSA is threatening to dump their kids in Jim Thorpe Schools without any type support for these kids. All these kids need to be tested for placement, a majority of them struggle to read and write, and are in dire need of trained special need teachers. Dumping them into a public school without transition support alone is sure the result in recidivism. JTASD has offered YSA to send in a third party special education agency with properly trained teachers at no additional cost to YSA, this program will give the youth an opportunity to receive a JTASD high diploma not a GED that is currently being taught at camp Adams…YSA refused saying they want $800,000 and its own staff will do the teaching. Now what about security! These kids for whatever reasons have been sentenced to the camp by a judge. That means they are custody and will have guards going everywhere they go. Metal detectors and increased suceruty will be a must have. Is that fair to the current students? TSA says all clients are not violent, well ask the elderly couple that had 3 inmates rob their house and beat them then steal the car and had a police chase until police stopped them with stop sticks, Ask current and past staff members. Some who left because the place is understaffed and are left in a position that they feared for their life. No one from JTASD is saying these kids don’t deserve an education, in fact we are all saying these kids need a proper education to strive as good citizens , key word proper. Putting into a school without the proper special needs teacher and resources for transition is setting up these kids for failure. Kids are brutal and no doubt will some try every measure to get into a fight with a Camp Adams kid and when this happens……. Is it fair to put a camp adams kid in a position to fail then do what they know from the street and fight. What happens to the camp Adams kid then??? That child will get the needed education and rehabilitation, How about holding Camp Adams responsible to the contract they have with the state to house, protect, educate and rehabilitate these youth!!!

  • Abigail Thomas

    I married a man that spent time in camp Adams. He is a good man. He doesn’t smoke, do drugs, drink or get into trouble. He is currently in college and is an Iraq war veteran. He was in camp Adams because at 16 he “borrowed” his friend’s, mother’s vehicle to come visit me in a neighboring town. He didn’t put the lights on and got pulled over. Well, being the smart 16 year old he was, he decided he should run. He got caught and his punishment was Camp Adams. He said the education there was terrible. He was doing elementary math and basic English. He was in a classroom with students of all different ages. He was being taught at the pace of the youngest in the class. The people living in this neighborhood should really take some time to meet these kids. They might feel less threatened if they get to meet the “threat”. Put these adults face to face with these kids and I bet you’ll have a room of speechless adults. These kids need acceptance and forgiveness, same as kids that aren’t in camp Adams. The adults against educating the students from camp Adams should be ashamed of themselves. Grow up and start practicing what you preach. All this time spent fighting these kids should be put into helping them. Have any of these “adults” asked “what can I do to help?” or are they too busy thinking about their unwarranted fears?

  • Lindsey

    I had the pleasure once to intern at a juvenile probation office, in which I got to meet these “at risk” youth, and I can assure you that they are no different then your children, except that they made a mistake. We shouldn’t shun them and deny them an education for that mistake. How can one say that your children are better or more important than these “at risk” kids that you are saying are so dangerous. Go talk to these kids and try telling me that they are dangerous. In my experience with them, they are some of the politest and most honest kids I have ever had the pleasure of talking to. Maybe these people should be teaching their children to be more respectful and accepting rather than judging (and, gasp, bulying – yes, this is a form of bullying). What is wrong with these parents that allowed this!?!

  • Jody McKibben

    I as a parent get the worry, however why don’t you instead of shunning these non-violent, low-risk children let your angels be positive role models for these children. Instead of worrying that these children will be negative role models for the children at the camp. If you have raised your child to be such upstanding citizens and trust their judgement then what is there to be so worried about. Unfortunately that is what is wrong with society NO ONE will stand up for kids that just need some caring and support.. Then the adults sit scratching their heads wondering what has happened to the youth of today… Go figure.. they are fighting prejudice like this everyday…

  • Karen Koehler

    why so worried about “at risk” youth who have the right to an education? They have a much better chance of succeeding with an education. you should probably be more worried about the “normal” kids already in your schools that are doing/selling drugs and carrying weapons nobody knows about. don’t be so judgemental. you don’t know where these kids have come from to get where they are or what they have been through. maybe if someone would actually give these KIDS a chance or teach them how to be productive instead of overreacting to the unknown, these kids would actually stand a chance as adults. You write them off at such a young age out of fear and ignorance and then wonder why they turn into adults and commit “adult” crimes. So sad. THEY ARE still KIDS!!!! but if you treat them like murderers and rapists, that is what they are going to turn into!!

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