A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed against The Glen Mills Schools after a newspaper investigation revealed a culture of abuse at the Pennsylvania reform school.
Glen Mills, known by some as “the Harvard of reform schools,” according to the complaint, is a residential school that has since 1826 purported to provide supervision, care, and rehabilitative programs for juvenile delinquents and youths who are considered to be at risk for criminal conduct.
Intertwined in the school’s nearly 200-year history, however, is a culture of “violence and intimidation” propounded by Glen Mills staff, the case says. Students at the school report having been physically and mentally abused by staff members, who allegedly subjected the children to “the use of excessive and unreasonable physical force” performed “under the guise of discipline.” The plaintiffs in the lawsuit say they experienced or witnessed “frequent beatings, slamming against walls, and punching by staff and fellow residents” during their time at Glen Mills.
One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, a 17-year-old former student, says he recalls waking up in the middle of the night to staff members pulling him from a top bunk and “slamming him onto the floor, where they proceeded to jump on him and spit in his face.”
The other plaintiff alleges that upon leaving a restroom shortly after arriving at the school, he was assaulted by staff members who broke three of his ribs for allegedly violating an unspoken rule related to morning restroom use.
The case claims staff members discouraged and prevented students from reporting the abuse by threatening to extend their sentences or further discipline them. According to one student’s report in a University of Utah investigation, “you just had to deal with it.”
The lawsuit cites several other reports that documented abuse at the school, including an investigation conducted by The Philadelphia Inquirer that led to the recent “emergency removal” of all children remaining at the school. The case also notes that in 2018, two former Glen Mills counselors were arrested and charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, and endangering the welfare of a student.
The case seeks to cover a proposed class of individuals who attended Glen Mills Schools and suffered or are at risk of suffering physical abuse, not including employees and contractors.