New York Times: The Family Foundation School

A group of kids from the Family School go paintballing one Saturday

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.

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‘It’s Like, Who’s Next?’: A Troubled School’s Alarming Death Rate

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

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Things I no longer give a rat’s ass about since Charles’ death

 

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Anne Moss Rogers

I am the mother of two boys and the owner of emotionally naked, a site that reached a quarter million people in its first 18 months. I am a writer and professional public speaker on the topics of suicide, addiction, mental illness, and grief and currently working on getting a book published. I lost my youngest son, Charles, 20, to suicide June 5, 2015. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory.

2 thoughts on “New York Times: The Family Foundation School”

  1. Rochelle tipped is off when it was time to get my son out too. I agree that the abuse is much more wide spread and am so disturbed that places and people claiming to “support” desperate parents and struggling teens can be so hurtful and irresponsible.

    1. I felt the same way M.B. I was so f-ing desperate to save Charles life. And there is a part of me that feels taken advantage of in my desperation. We didn’t send kids there because we caught them with a beer and a joint. It was to save their lives. And to see in some cases that it could have been a contributing factor is hard to read. However, just the fact that this school was our last ditch effort is telling in terms of the level of risk this school was taking on. I don’t think Mike A, for example, knew about all this. I think it happened behind closed doors and it was good to read that they cleaned up their act although there were still some things that happened there I deeply regret. But Rochelle was the best part. Charles never had had that level of trust in a therapist and never did again. And for that I’m very thankful. I also think the school didn’t close due to the truth campaign.

      It was Curtis’s dismissal for sexual misconduct–charges on which he was later cleared but I think for FFS, that was the final nail in the coffin for that school. People starting leaving like rats abandoning a ship. That incident was the catalyst because it was when ours were there and I remember it vividly. The truth campaign may have pushed the ship over the edge but it all started with that incident. Charles had been taking rap therapy from him–the one and only time Charles made progress anywhere and that rug was yanked from underneath when those accusations were made. FFS had no disaster plan which is crazy given the population. A hard kind of school to open and operate because in terms of liability, you are so naked.

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