Last month, the Philadelphia Inquirer exposed a history of disturbing violence, abuse, and cover-ups at Glen Mills, the Delaware County reform school that had long been regarded as a model for similar schools. On February 25, the Inquirer reported that Philadelphia County would remove all of its students from the school; and on March 25, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services ordered an emergency removal of all students who remained at the school.
On Wednesday, KRMFL partner David Rudovsky and class action firm Berger Montague filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of all former and current residents of Glen Mills who were abused by school staff. The complaint names as defendants the Glen Mills School as well as one hundred John Does, placeholders for school staff and administration.
The complaint cites serious instances of violence against Glen Mills students, many of whom were required by court order to live at and attend the school. States as far as California and Texas sent juveniles to the school, only to be greeted by a culture of rampant violence and coerced silence. One named plaintiff, Billy Miller, recounts waking one night to staff pulling him from his top bunk and slamming him to the floor, where they proceeded to jump on him and spit in his face. Staff, who monitored Billy’s telephone calls, threatened to “make it worse” if he ever told anybody about his treatment.
“Under its veneer of civility,” the complaint states, “there is a Dickensian ‘culture of violence’ and intimidation at the School that has severely impacted Plaintiffs and other children through systematic excessive force, threats of longer sentences for those who report the abuse, and detention beyond commitment dates for those students with injuries that would be noticed upon release from the School.”
The complaint further states that Glen Mills administrators “ha[ve] known for many years of [the School’s] culture of violence and abuse” and that, rather than address that culture, the school went to great lengths to cover it up.
The lawsuit charges Glen Mills and its employees of violating the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and adds state law claims of negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligent supervision. It requests an unspecified amount of monetary damages in addition to various forms of injunctive relief and complete disclosure of all records pertaining to abuse of students at the school.