Glen Mills Schools, State Officials Sued by National Legal Center Over Abuse, Failing to Educate

Lisa Gartner, The Inquirer •

“Each of us have seen an array of travesties involving our kids in this country, and I’d say this ranks high among the worst we’ve seen,” said Marsha Levick, chief legal officer for Juvenile Law Center.

The 149-page complaint is the product of several months of work by nearly a dozen lawyers who conducted in-depth interviews with former students and their families, Levick said. She credited The Inquirer, which published an investigation exposing a culture of violence and cover-ups at the Delaware County in February, with giving boys the courage to participate in the suit.

The article "opened doors and seemed to allow individuals a bit more freedom to come forward than previously, which is a testament to the extraordinary intimidation at Glen Mills,” she said.

The lawsuit describes a relentless campaign to silence students from reporting abuse — an effort that escalated in the days and weeks after the Inquirer investigation ran, and continued until state officials ordered the emergency removal of all boys, then pulled Glen Mills’ license.

The complaint describes how children were forced to “smile and wave” at state inspectors, and to lie about their treatment at Glen Mills. But the complaint also accuses state leaders of failing to protect the boys placed at the reform school. As reported by The Inquirer, the state Department of Human Services (DHS) flagged Glen Mills repeatedly for incidents of staff violence over the last five years, only to accept reassurances of change from school officials.

About the Expert

Marsha Levick co-founded Juvenile Law Center in 1975. Throughout her legal career, Levick has been an advocate for children’s and women's rights and is a nationally recognized expert in juvenile law.