Tag Archives: New Jersey

Lawmakers Tour Penn Station as Christie, Cuomo Call for Privatization

Source: Lucy Yang, WABC, May 12, 2017
 
New Jersey state lawmakers toured Penn Station Friday to get a first-hand look at infrastructure in desperate need of repair after an ongoing wave of delays have left commuters frustrated and angry. And it comes as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo are pushing to privatize the transit hub. … The legislators got an eye-opening glimpse at the scope of work that Amtrak will undertake this summer, including the spaghetti junction of tracks and switches that needed to be replaced after a train derailment last month paralyzed service on New Jersey Transit, LIRR and Amtrak lines for a week. … On Thursday, Christie and Cuomo issued a joint letter declaring they have lost all faith in Amtrak. … If Amtrak agrees to contract out the running of Penn Station, the governors also want the right to approve any future, private contractor. …

Atlantic County considers privatizing assets to mitigate PILOT costs

Source: John DeRosier, Press of Atlantic City, April 27, 2017

Atlantic County is considering privatizing some of its assets to mitigate the costs associated with casino tax refunds and because it’s not getting a 13.5 percent share of the PILOT money. Such moves could save taxpayers money but cost some county employees their jobs. The county has been responsible for refunding more than $65 million to Atlantic City since 2010 because of costly tax appeals by the casinos. … On Tuesday, however, Freeholder Chairman Frank Formica said the county is considering privatizing assets that don’t make money, such as Meadowview Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Northfield, in an effort to spare residents from large tax increases and keep social services, such as Meals on Wheels, intact. …

N.J. Lottery Sales Fall Short Following Privatization

Source: SNJ Today, April 18, 2017

Those hoping to win big in the New Jersey State lottery are spending less on their dreams.  State lottery sales are down for the third year since being privatized.  Lottery operations management firm Northstar New Jersey promised a return of more than $1.4 billion over 15 years when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie moved the games to privatization in 2013.  Since then, Northstar has missed its income projections and spent $20 million in allowance funds to cover financial shortfalls. …

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Privatizing lottery isn’t lucrative deal for New Jersey
Source: Michael Catalini, Associated Press, January 9, 2016

New Jersey might get $1 billion less out of its state lottery as part of an amended 15-year deal with the private company that runs part of it, according to an Associated Press analysis. The deal, unveiled by Gov. Chris Christie’s administration on New Year’s Eve, also reduces the amount the company must generate to avoid penalties. The revenue targets that Northstar New Jersey has to meet have been lowered by about $76 million per year over the contract, which was struck in 2013. The total revenue projection was decreased from nearly $16 billion to about $15 billion. … The underperformance — including a $5 million drop in revenue in 2015 — has raised questions from Democrats about the privatization strategy championed by Christie, a 2016 Republican presidential candidate who promoted lottery outsourcing as a way to shrink the government’s payroll and bring in more cash. The lottery brought in $960 million in fiscal year 2015, down from initial expectations of a little more than $1 billion.

New Jersey Having Second Thoughts After Privatizing Lottery
Source: John Reitmeyer, NBC Philadelphia, October 8, 2015
Two years after New Jersey turned over some state lottery functions to a private venture under a controversial long-term deal, lawmakers are questioning why revenues have not met expectations and whether the privatization contract is worth it. The Senate Legislative Oversight Committee announced yesterday that it will hold a hearing on October 19 to review New Jersey’s deal with Northstar New Jersey to address concerns raised in recent weeks about fees Northstar is collecting even as it has failed to meet net-revenue targets. An Assembly committee is also scheduling a hearing on the deal. … Gordon, the Senate committee chairman, said the hearing on October 19 will also review the broader privatization issue, and whether the state is up to the task of monitoring such large contracts. He cited problems the state has had with private companies handling some of the recovery efforts in the wake of Superstorm Sandy in 2012 as another reason to broaden the scope of the hearing.

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Red Bank Charter School under federal investigation

Source: Payton Guion, Asbury Park Press, February 14, 2017

The U.S. Department of Education has launched an investigation into enrollment practices at Red Bank Charter School amid longstanding complaints that the school does not enroll enough minority students. The investigation was opened Jan. 31, according to a U.S. Department of Education spokesman. It stems from a civil rights complaint by a group of public school parents and a Latino advocacy organization who allege the school is in violation of a consent decree requiring its demographics match those of Red Bank. Critics of the charter school have long complained that minorities are underrepresented in the charter school, contributing to an over-representation of minorities in the public school district, where the population is also more economically challenged than the charter school’s enrollment. … Data from the state Department of Education show that the disparity in enrollment between the charter school and the borough school is also economic. … Additionally, 38 percent of district school students have limited proficiency in English; only 3.5 percent of the charter school students fall into this category. … Frank Argote-Freyre, director of the Latino Coalition of New Jersey, said that while the Education Department is primarily investigating Red Bank Charter School, it also has indicated it would look into segregation at other charters in the state. …

Group calls for investigation into Franklin Township charter schools

Source: Nick Muscavage, mycentraljersey.com, February 10, 2017

Two groups are calling on the state Department of Education to close the charter schools in this township, claiming that the charter schools disproportionately enroll English language learning students and students with special needs compared to the township’s public schools. The groups — the Latino Coalition of New Jersey and Franklin C.A.R.E.S. — are also calling on the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education “to conduct an investigation into the discriminatory impact of New Jersey charter school policies on Franklin Township and across New Jersey.” The charter schools that raised concerns from the groups are Central Jersey College Prep Charter School, 17 Schoolhouse Road, and Thomas Edison EnergySmart Charter School, 150 Pierce St. To support their claims, the groups referenced enrollment data from the state DOE at the two charter schools and compared the data to the township’s public schools. … Thomas Edison EnergySmart Charter School also disproportionately enrolls students based on ethnicity, the groups said. … The groups’ letter said that if charter schools are expanded in Central Jersey, segregation may expand, as well. …

Reinventing the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey

Source: Robert Poole, Reason Foundation, February 2, 2017

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey was established in 1921 to create a sustainable, de- politicized way to provide and manage bi-state transportation infrastructure. At the time, the highly centralized, Progressive-Era public authority model was state-of-the-art. Nearly a century later, however, the model’s three key limitations have become evident: politicized decision-making, money-losing facilities, and declining financial viability. … The PA needs more dramatic reform, and understanding why is based on a fundamental fact: Major transportation infrastructure requires ongoing investment: adding capacity as needed, renewing and replacing aging facilities, and keeping pace with the latest technologies. That is simply not possible until the PA abandons its decades-long practice of common-pool funding and extensive cross-subsidies, and moves instead toward infrastructure facilities funded by dedicated revenue streams and facility-specific accountability. The mechanism to do so is long-term public-private partnerships (P3s), which today mobilize hundreds of billions of new capital for infrastructure around the world. …

Read the full report.

Is This What Trump Will Do to Our Water Systems?

Source: Peter Hart, Food and Water Watch, February 3, 2017

According to just-leaked documents, Donald Trump’s team has pulled together a national priority list of 50 major infrastructure projects that taxpayers could subsidize through a Wall Street giveaway. On his list are two corporate water supply projects: Poseidon’s expensive, energy-intensive desalination plant and Cadiz’s water bank – both set to privatize water resources and profit from droughts in California. … For a taste of the problems that Trump’s plans could cause, consider the case of Rockland County, New York. In Rockland County, the local arm of French multinational Suez is billing residents and businesses millions of dollars for a desalination plant it never built. Two weeks ago, the state government agency that exists to help consumers mostly blessed this ratepayer rip-off. … Private water companies like Suez have left a trail of broken promises and botched service in cities around the country, from Camden, New Jersey to Atlanta to Gary, Indiana. Cost overruns and safety problems have plagued communities where the companies have been active. …

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Trump Attacks the Safety of Our Drinking Water
Source: Mary Grant, Food and Water Watch, January 25, 2017

The Trump administration has declared war on the environment and the safety of our drinking water. His team put together an aggressive action plan for the EPA, stripping away public protections and critical resources. … While gutting these vital water funding programs, Trump’s team is also advancing a proposal to let Wall Street take over our public infrastructure. Trump’s policy advisors have outlined a scheme to give massive tax breaks to Wall Street firms that take over infrastructure projects. It would give Wall Street a tax credit of $0.82 for every $1 of equity invested into a project.  This privatization scam will benefit only Wall Street. Widespread privatization of water systems would lead to large rate hikes, loss of local control, loss of transparency and accountability, loss of jobs and deterioration of customer service quality. Water bills would skyrocket to allow Wall Street to profit, leading to unaffordable bills and more water shutoffs. … Trump’s plans amount to a massive windfall for Wall Street, and combined with his proposed cuts, they endanger our public water systems. … On Tuesday, Senate Democrats released their own blueprint to rebuild our country’s infrastructure, calling for $110 billion to update our water and sewer systems. Their blueprint recognizes that communities need real direct assistance and that privatization is the wrong way forward: “Our Blueprint will invest directly in communities because Democrats know that we can’t fix a problem of this magnitude simply by tolling more highways or privatizing water and sewer system that profit on ratepayers.” …

In American Towns, Private Profits From Public Works
Source: DANIELLE IVORY, BEN PROTESS and GRIFF PALMER, New York Times, December 24, 2016

Nicole Adamczyk’s drinking water used to slosh through a snarl of pipes dating from the Coolidge administration — a rusty, rickety symbol of the nation’s failing infrastructure. So, in 2012, this blue-collar port city cut a deal with a Wall Street investment firm to manage its municipal waterworks. Four years later, many of those crusty brown pipes have been replaced by shiny cobalt-blue ones, reflecting a broader infrastructure overhaul in Bayonne. But Ms. Adamczyk’s water and sewer bill has jumped so much that she is thinking about moving out of town. “My reaction was, ‘Oh, so I guess I’m screwed now?’” said Ms. Adamczyk, an accountant and mother of two who received a quarterly bill for almost $500 this year. She’s not alone: Another resident’s bill jumped 5 percent, despite the household’s having used 11 percent less water.

Even as Wall Street deals like the one with Bayonne help financially desperate municipalities to make much-needed repairs, they can come with a hefty price tag — not just to pay for new pipes, but also to help the investors earn a nice return, a New York Times analysis has found. Often, these contracts guarantee a specific amount of revenue, The Times found, which can send water bills soaring. Water rates in Bayonne have risen nearly 28 percent since Kohlberg Kravis Roberts — one of Wall Street’s most storied private equity firms — teamed up with another company to manage the city’s water system, the Times analysis shows. City officials also promised residents a four-year rate freeze that never materialized. In one measure of residents’ distress, people are falling so far behind on their bills that the city is placing more liens against their homes, which can eventually lead to foreclosures. … President-elect Donald J. Trump has made the privatization of public works a centerpiece of his strategy to rebuild America’s airports, bridges, tunnels and roads. Members of his inner circle have sketched out a vision, including billions of dollars of tax credits for private investors willing to tackle big infrastructure projects. And Mr. Trump himself promised in his victory speech “to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none.” Private equity firms like K.K.R. have already presented themselves as a willing partner, and Bayonne provides an important case study. Its arrangement is one of a handful of deals across the country in the last few years in which private equity firms have managed public water systems. While these deals are a small corner of private equity’s sprawling interests, they represent the leading edge of the industry’s profound expansion into public services. …

… The Times analyzed three deals in which private equity firms have recently run a community’s water or sewer services through a long-term contract. In all three places — Bayonne, and two cities in California, Rialto and Santa Paula — rates rose more quickly than in comparable towns, which included both publicly and privately run water systems. In Santa Paula, where Alinda Capital Partners controlled the sewer plant, the city more than doubled the rates. A fourth municipality, Middletown, Pa., raised its rates before striking a deal. Now, some of these cities are trying to take back their water. Missoula, Mont., wrested away its water system, which had been owned by the Carlyle Group. Apple Valley, Calif., whose waterworks were also owned by Carlyle, has filed a similar lawsuit. Santa Paula bought its sewer plant from Alinda last year. …

Investing in America’s Public Water Systems — Making Public-private Partnerships Work
Source: Wharton School – University of Pennsylvania, Knowledge@Wharton, May 2015
[editor’s note: Suez Environnement – a private water company – is one of the sponsors behind this report. One of its subsidiaries is United Water]

From the summary:
The U.S. public water system needs a massive, long-deferred investment. Neither the public nor the private sector alone is up to the challenge, but a growing number of public-private partnerships suggest a solution.

U.S. Shifts to Strong Support for Public-private Infrastructure Deals
Source: Knowledge@Wharton, Public Policy, June 10, 2015

….As part of what the Canadian government calls, “the largest and longest infrastructure plan” in the nation’s history, Canada has committed $1.25 billion to a national portfolio of 20 public-private partnerships, seven of which involve water and wastewater infrastructure. But what is noteworthy about the Canadian program is not just the size or scope of its investment but the process it has put in place. …But whether or not the IRS changes its policy, or Congress agrees to any of the president’s new proposals, the bipartisan passage of WRRDA makes it clear the federal government will be stepping up its support for P3s for water and other infrastructure in the years ahead….

Making the Most of Public-private Partnerships
Source: Knowledge@Wharton, Public Policy, June 10, 2015

It may not be common knowledge, but private companies have been helping cities manage public water systems for some time. According to the National Environmental Services Center, a process known as design-bid-build is the traditional method employed by water utilities throughout the U.S. Under this process, a municipality hires an engineering firm to design a water project, puts the project out to bid and chooses a private contractor to build the plant. The local water authority may choose to run the plant itself or hire yet another private firm to operate and maintain it…..

A Tale of Two Public-private Partnership Cities
Source: Knowledge@Wharton, Public Policy, June 10, 2015

….It is indeed early in the relationship among United Water, KKR and the citizens of Bayonne. So far, the rate increase has been an issue locally, but few have complained about inferior service. United Water, for its part, reports fielding positive consumer comments about access to information from the smart water meters it has installed…. In 2013, Rialto entered into a 30-year, $300 million public-private partnership (P3) agreement with Veolia Environnement S.A.’s Veolia Water as the operator of the project. Ullico, a labor-owned insurance and investment company, was the lead finance partner, along with Table Rock Capital. An agreement with labor unions ensured that all existing employees would keep their jobs for at least 36 months. ….

Christie administration proposes loosening charter school regulations (Audio)

Source: Newsworks, January 5, 2017

Debates surrounding charter schools in New Jersey flared up once again when the State Board of Education heard testimony on a package of proposals from the Christie administration. Some of the more controversial proposals include plans to waive certification requirements for teachers and principals in top performing schools. NJ Spotlight’s John Mooney joined NewsWorks Tonight’s Dave Heller to discuss the changes and their chance of survival. Listen to their conversation below.

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Charter school foes tell NJ education officials: Enough already
Source: Maddie Hanna, Philadelphia Inquirer, January 5, 2017

Charter school opponents called for a moratorium on further expansion in New Jersey on Wednesday, as the state Board of Education took up a proposal announced last year by Gov. Christie to ease rules for charter teacher and administrator hiring. Outside the Department of Education offices in Trenton, more than 50 people stood in opposition to new charter schools. Some argued that creating new rules for charters would spur more expansion – which they said would mean less money for traditional district schools. … Charter backers say the rule changes before the board – which include a pilot program that would let charters hire teachers without traditional certification – would hold the schools accountable. The Department of Education has revised the proposal to allow only charter schools with performance ranked in its first of three tiers to participate in the pilot program, which would run for five years. Under the program, teachers could be hired by charter schools if they have a bachelor’s degree and meet two of the following criteria: Have a 3.0 GPA, pass a content test, pass a basic skills test, or demonstrate relevant experience. Principals, meanwhile, would no longer need a master’s degree to work in charter schools in the pilot program. They would not need to complete a 300-hour internship, and would need only two years of teaching experience, instead of five. … Other rule changes proposed by the department and considered by the Board of Education on Wednesday would allow some charter school students to participate in sports offered by their district schools. The rule changes would also let charter schools hold weighted lotteries, which proponents say would give disadvantaged students a greater likelihood of being admitted. Critics say charter schools take fewer disadvantaged students, leaving traditional schools with a harder-to-educate population. …

Hackensack council drops bid to privatize sanitation

Source: Stephanie Noda, NJ.com, October 14, 2016

The city council has officially dropped a bid to privatize its Sanitation Department, citing high costs and a desire to listen to concerns of the residents. City Manager David Troast announced during the Sept. 27 mayor and council meeting that his staff reviewed and analyzed the sanitation bids the city received and decided with the chief financial officer to recommend that the council reject the bids. Troast said anticipated cost savings were not reflected in the bid results. … Canestrino said the council would have been “delinquent” in its responsibilities had officials not gained information on all the options available to them in regards to sanitation before making a decision. Councilwoman Deborah Keeling-Geddis, who was against to the plan to privatize the department since the idea was put forward, said she was glad the numbers came in the way they did and the council had decided to drop the plan. … During public comment, Mark McCart, a union representative for the Sanitation Department, said he was “certainly happy” that officials were scrapping plans for privatization and thank the citizens who put signs out on their lawns, local deacons and preachers and the NAACP standing by the sanitation workers. Although the search to privatize sanitation has come to an end, McCart said there was some issues that the council faced, such as fixing the uncertainty that sanitation workers felt since the process began. …

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Private garbage collection in Hackensack abandoned
Source: John Seasly, NJ.com, September 28, 2016

The city formally rejected all bids for privatization of garbage collection Tuesday night, ending months of tension over the future of the department and its workers. The idea was originally proposed as a cost-saving measure, as $2 million would be needed to replace the city’s aging garbage trucks. But residents, fearing layoffs, opposed what they saw as a plan with racial implications, since nearly all of the city’s 33 sanitation workers are people of color. Hundreds turned out in solidarity with the workers at a June meeting, to the point where the council chambers were filled to capacity and residents were waiting in the lobby and on the sidewalk for a chance to appear. …

Hackensack scraps plan to privatize garbage pickup, easing fears of job cuts
Source: John Seasly, NorthJersey.com, September 20, 2016

The city plans to reject all bids it has received from private companies seeking to provide sanitation services after a financial analysis found the savings would be minimal, Mayor John Labrosse said in a release. … The idea of privatizing the sanitation department initially was conceived as a cost-cutting measure. It was floated to help offset a cost of more than $2 million to replace aging garbage trucks, City Manager David Troast said. But the proposal eventually encountered vehement opposition from residents and employees who feared they would lose their jobs. Of the three bids, the lowest would have saved the city less than $100,000 a year, according to an analysis by Chief Financial Officer James Mangin. … Residents in June worried that some or all of the 33 sanitation workers, nearly all of whom are black or Hispanic, would lose their jobs, and some people accused city officials of racial discrimination. Hundreds of residents turned out in support of the workers, and church leaders and Bergen County NAACP President Anthony Cureton were among those who denounced the plan. …. Labrosse promised later that month that there would be no layoffs if garbage collection was privatized. The proposals were opened on Aug. 17, though city officials had not spoken publicly about them until Tuesday, citing the need for a financial analysis. …

Mayor’s vow: no Hackensack layoffs if sanitation services are privatized
Source: John Seasly, NJ.com, June 28, 2016

The city will allow no layoffs of current employees if it decides to go forward with a private sanitation contract, Mayor John Labrosse vowed in a statement Tuesday. The promise is meant to appease concerns expressed by hundreds of residents who attended the June 14 council meeting in protest of privatization. Residents saw a racial component to the issue, since nearly all of the city’s 33 sanitation workers are black. … An “informal consensus” emerged from the meetings that the jobs of all current permanent employees would be protected if the city moved forward with privatization, Labrosse said. … Nearly all of the sanitation workers are black, with a few who are white or Hispanic, said Mark McCart, the United Public Service Employees Union representative. Their salaries range from $25,000 to $53,000, with an average between $35,000 and $40,000, he said. …

Hackensack residents voice opposition to privatization of sanitation force
Source: Stephanie Noda, NJ.com, June 24, 2016

The mayor and council members had a presentation during the June 14 meeting to discuss how they are seeking bid specifications to see what it would cost to privatize the sanitation department. No official decision was made yet, since the council is still gathering information to determine the best way to deal with the aging fleet of garbage trucks. Between 2014 and 2015, six garbage trucks averaged repairs of $178,000 for each year, said Chief Financial Officer James Mangin during the presentation. Before committing $1.8 million for new garbage trucks, the mayor and council were investigating alternatives, including leasing vehicles, purchase used garbage trucks and privatization, said Mangin. … If the city were to privatize the sanitation department, services that would be performed by the company would include garbage collection, rubbish pick-up and white goods pick-up, said Mangin. Recycling collection, yard waste pick-up and garbage collection in public parks and snow removal would be handled by DPW employees. … Residents spoke for nearly three hours arguing against the proposal, fearing that sanitation workers would lose their jobs. … The council will meet again in September to publically discuss the bids, which will be received Aug. 17.

Outcry as Hackensack explores privatizing garbage pickup
Source: Myles Ma, NJ.com, June 15, 2016

City officials insisted their meeting Tuesday night was just about gathering information about a plan to privatize solid waste removal in Hackensack. They ended up getting an earful. Residents packed City Hall in opposition to the plan, which officials hope will help the city save on the nearly $2 million cost of replacing six aging garbage trucks. Mayor John LaBrosse told NJ Advance Media on Wednesday that officials have not made a decision either way on the plan and that they would take residents’ views into account. … The city has issued a request for proposals from private companies. Under the bid specifications, a private company would take over solid waste disposal, while the city Department of Public Works would continue to handle recycling, leaf collection, snow plowing and street sweeping. City officials must weigh the cost of replacing and maintaining its trucks against the possibility of laying off some of its 30 sanitation workers if a private company takes over. Hackensack has spent upwards of $350,000 a year to maintain its fleet, LaBrosse said. …

Hundreds in Hackensack speak out against privatizing garbage collection
Source: John Seasly, North Jersey.com, June 14, 2016

Privatizing the city’s solid-waste removal was discussed in the May 17 work session and is only a concept at this point. But hundreds of residents attended the meeting to speak against the idea before it proceeds any further. Some people were not let into the council chambers due to overcrowding. Chief Financial Officer James Mangin explained in a presentation that the city faced a cost of more than $2 million to replace its sanitation trucks, and was considering alternatives to see how much money could be saved by privatization. But the requests for proposals are sealed until they will be opened on Aug. 17, Mangin said, and until then, no exact numbers can be known. A requirement of the proposals is that any displaced sanitation workers must be hired full time by the contractor, Mangin said. …

Maryland’s Move to Pull Children From Group Homes Came Too Late for Teenager Who Died

Source: Heather Vogell, ProPublica, October 13, 2016

Once again, government actions against a controversial for-profit company’s chain of group homes for the disabled may have come too late to protect a child. ProPublica has learned that Maryland had begun pulling about 30 children out of homes owned and managed by AdvoServ in August, but hadn’t yet relocated a teenage girl when she died a month later after being manually restrained by staff. … Maryland, which plans to terminate its contract with AdvoServ at the end of this month, isn’t the only state to have increased its scrutiny of the company since the ProPublica series. In March, Delaware placed the company on probation, a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families said. In June, Florida officials said they had begun moving clients out of the company’s facility in the state, and stationed an investigator there. Through a spokesman, the company declined to comment on the decisions by Maryland and Delaware regulators. AdvoServ’s shortcomings add to the growing concerns about for-profit companies taking over delivery of human services, from prisons to hospice care, that were traditionally provided by government or non-profit agencies. … Officials elsewhere have repeatedly backed off from sanctioning the company, which is aided by well-connected lobbyists that include prominent former state legislators. In 2012, for example, Florida reneged on plans to bar an AdvoServ home, where both adults and a child had allegedly been punched and kicked, from accepting new clients for a year. … The girl was not the first teenager to die at an AdvoServ home. In 1997, a 14-year-old autistic boy with epilepsy was found dead in his bed with low levels of anti-seizure medicine in his blood. In 2013, a 14-year-old autistic girl died at the company’s Florida home after a night in which she was restrained — at times fastened to a bed and chair — while she vomited repeatedly. …

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Teenage Girl Dies After Incident at For-profit Group Home
Source: Heather Vogell, ProPublica, September 20, 2016

A teenage girl died last week after an incident at a group home in Delaware run by a for-profit company, AdvoServ, whose long record of problematic treatment ProPublica chronicled last year. Attorney Chris Gowen, who has a lawsuit against AdvoServ concerning a different teen, said he has learned workers were manually restraining the girl when she became unresponsive. He and his clients have spoken to current and former workers about the incident. … Delaware state police and regulators also haven’t said what happened to the 15-year-old from Maryland. The state medical examiner’s office is conducting an autopsy, but a spokeswoman said the results will not be made public. Maryland is one of several states that send difficult cases to AdvoServ because they cannot find beds and schooling closer to home. The company, which is owned by a private equity firm, is based in Delaware and reported last year that it cared for roughly 700 children and adults in that state, Florida, and New Jersey, and was expanding into Virginia. …

… The girl is not the first child to die under questionable circumstances at AdvoServ’s homes and schools. In 2013, Paige Lunsford, 14 and autistic, died at the company’s Florida complex after a night in which she was restrained – at times latched to a bed and chair – while she vomited repeatedly. And in 1997, 14-year-old Jon Henley, who was autistic and had epilepsy, was found dead in his bed one morning after an apparent seizure. An autopsy revealed low levels of anti-seizure medication in his blood. Regulators in multiple states have fielded decades of complaints of abuse, neglect and inadequate medical care at AdvoServ facilities. … A former worker for AdvoServ in Delaware, who asked that his name not be used, said he left three years ago in part because he felt staff did not receive enough training in deescalating conflicts or restraining clients. The company had been trying out new restraint procedures that were supposed to make restraints less forceful by involving more staff members. But, he said, with too few staff often available to carry out the restraints as planned, “It just becomes unsafe.” …

… The company is one of the few group home operators that still use restraint devices to confine clients who become aggressive. As ProPublica has reported, AdvoServ staff used such mechanical restraints on clients at its 200-bed campus northwest of Orlando roughly 28,000 times. Florida officials said in June that they were moving clients out of AdvoServ’s complex and stationing an investigator there to provide extra oversight during the transition, which they expected to take months.