DHS denies license for nonprofit seeking to operate at Glen Mills Schools

The juvenile reform school closed in 2019 following allegations of covered-up abuse

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services has denied a license application for a nonprofit seeking to operate at the former Glen Mills Schools, which was shut down three years ago due to years of alleged covered-up abuse.

The juvenile reform school for boys in Delaware County closed in February 2019 after a Philadelphia Inquirer investigation exposed a history of physical and sexual abuse. All students were removed from the campus by April 2019, and DHS revoked all licenses that same month.

Months later Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order authorizing a probe into juvenile centers to find solutions.

A DHS spokesperson said Clock Tower Schools, the nonprofit seeking to take over the facility, was denied on April 4 because it failed to meet all requirements, and the “DHS has concerns over the organization’s ability to safely operate a child residential facility due to suitability of facilities and program structure.”

The spokesperson could not discuss the case in detail because Clock Tower Schools is appealing the denied application.

Philadelphia City Councilmember Helen Gym has been outspoken against Glen Mills since the allegations unfolded. She’s appalled at how “flagrantly” Glen Mills has “refused to change anything about itself other than its name.”

“We are still waiting for a full investigation and accounting for the trauma and pain they inflicted on a number of youth [en]trusted to their care,” she said, “and we’re still waiting for changes in state oversight of youth residential facilities, which cost counties tens of millions of dollars a year.”

The Juvenile Law Center — which, along with the Education Law Center, filed a lawsuit against Glen Mills leadership and state officials on behalf of hundreds of youth who they say suffered at the hands of staff — said it supports DHS’ rejection of Clock Tower Schools.

“Paramount among DHS’ responsibilities is their duty to ensure the safety of all children committed to their custody or licensed programs,” said Marsha Levick, JLC chief legal officer and co-founder.

A spokesperson for Clock Tower Schools said while its leaders are disappointed about the rejection, they are confident their appeal addresses the issues outlined. They hope to move forward so they can provide care and education for kids.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Jim Melwert/KYW Newsradio