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Parents sound off on possible detention center closure

By Jamie Stover, Reporter, JStover@wfmz.com
Published On: Jun 16 2014 09:02:17 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 17 2014 04:23:08 AM CDT

Parents sound off on possible detention center closure

JIM THORPE, Pa. -

For some parents in Carbon County, the thought of juvenile criminals joining their children in school is just too much to bear.

Dozens of juvenile offenders could enroll in the Jim Thorpe Area School District as early as this fall, if a nearby detention center closes its doors.

Hundreds of parents and students attended an information meeting before the regularly scheduled school board meeting Monday night.

Of concern, is the possibility of about 30 residents of the Youth Services Agency in nearby Penn Forest Township enrolling in the district.

The YSA, also known as Camp Adams, could shut its doors due to funding issues.

By state law, the district is obligated to educate all students in its borders, including juvenile offenders.

"There's no option to the law. I don't know how else to say that," said Dr. Barbara Conway, Superintendent.

But that's not exactly what parents want to hear.

"As a parent, I do have a big interest in that, the welfare and safety of my children, and the children of the community," said Hipolito Madera, a parent with two children in the district.

"I'm stressed just thinking about the the fact they could be sitting next to someone that could harm them," said Anne Marie Bourke, a parent with two children in the district.

YSA claims none of its Penn Forest Township clients have committed violent or serious crimes, but that's not offering much comfort to parents.

"We've all read about how these kids escape and cause problems," said one person at the meeting.

Some parents said they will consider pulling their children from the district if the facility closes.

If the transfer is inevitable, parents said they want assurance their children will be safe.

Superintendent Conway said that is something the board will consider.

Conway said nothing has been decided yet. It's unclear when a decision will be made.