Not long ago, I was interviewed by Michael Wilson for an article for the New York Times. He was investigating the Family Foundation School, the therapeutic boarding school where Charles attended in 2012. A teacher in New York had died from overdose in the bathroom who had attended the school which left bread crumbs back to the Family School.
In 2015, Charles was one of three deaths of alumni from the school that happened consecutively. Liz was first on May 31, 2015 and hers was an overdose. Followed by Charles which was a suicide on June 5, 2015 and then another teen who died in an alcohol related accident was mere weeks after Charles. The kids who went there were devastated by these back to back losses. Most of these kids had drug and alcohol. mental health and behavioral problems or all of the above prior to being accepted in the school. It pains me to read what may have happened at the school in the early 2000s. Heartbreaking. Shocking
As a desperate parent, it’s hard to know what to do and had I known any of this was true, I’d not have sent him there. I do think some, if not all, of this happened in the early 2000s well before Charles ever got there in 2012. Had this been going on when Charles was there, or had happened to him, I would have heard about it. Nobody complained about this school more than Charles. He was exceptionally angry with us for sending him away.
He and his counselor Rochelle were close and I mean that in a healthy, positive way. He trusted her and I did, too. I still do. She also respected his talent and encouraged him to keep writing.
When he took a turn for the worse and started backsliding, she was the first to call and tell us she thought the placement was no longer working for him which was a risk for her.
I don’t think it was the right placement for Charles and I talk about why in a lot more detail in my book so I’m not going to go into it all here. But policemen and people in power did abuse Charles along the way so I know abuse of vulnerable populations by people in power happens. A teen with an addiction is just not considered a viable witness and that is an opportunity to take advantage. And ask any mother raising a black male in this culture how fair things are.
The article is as follows and I’m quoted about midway.
Charles wrote this song that includes a lot about how he felt about the Family School, I Don’t Wanna Be a Patient.
When four former students from the same school died within months of one another in 2015, it seemed random, a morbid coincidence. Then the number kept growing. At least seven more died the next year…… Read more