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Not exactly Daddy Daycare, is it?

Chillicothe school still in dispute over safety

In January, James Cox, 49, of Carrolton, Mo., a therapist at Chillicothe Youth Services, was charged with assaulting four students in October and November of 2003. He faces one felony charge of endangering the welfare of a child and three misdemeanor physical assault charges in Livingston County. The children were between the ages of 6 and 13.

Chillicothe serves children with emotional, mental and physical disabilities.

Last June, two counselors and [Chillicothe Youth Services’ owner] Ms. Stilwell were charged in Livingston County with felony Medicaid fraud.

Two former teachers say that the school hid their violations from parents and failed to notify the Division of Family Services or the police. They also say the school discouraged teachers from reporting the violence.

In January 2003, a school bus driver, James Harker, pleaded guilty to statutory rape and sodomy for incidents involving two girls who rode his bus.

Mr. Cox wasn't fired until police charged him. They did so based on the reports of the former teachers - Chillicothe itself did not report him.

Mrs. Powell and Terry Munson, a former bus driver and substitute teacher, said they filed numerous incident reports with the school.

When he saw the assaults, Mr. Munson said he would take the kids away from Mr. Cox and take them home.

“Nothing was ever done,” said Mr. Munson, who quit working at the school after Mrs. Powell was fired. “I wanted to get out because it wasn’t right, and they weren’t doing anything about it. They kept saying that (Mr. Cox) would be fired. They fired (Mrs. Powell) for it.”

Powell was fired when she told the school that she was filing a restraining order against Cox.

When charges were filed in January against Mr. Cox, Ms. Stilwell, the school’s owner and director, said the safety of the children was her first concern.

The school is required to have an on-staff licensed therapist (Mr.Cox) in order to bill Medicaid for services provided to the students.

“It messed (the kids) up more than physically because they don’t know who to trust,” Ms. Stith [the mother of one of the assaulted children] said. “They’re told to trust their teachers and counselors and parents, and now they can’t trust anybody.”

“If you want my honest opinion, that school shouldn’t even be open,” Mr. Munson said. “It shouldn’t even be there.”

Out of the mouths of bus drivers...

Jim Peacock
Snooze Button Dreams

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