Teen’s death prompts facility’s loss of contract, license

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Prompted by the death of a teen who was wrongly restrained by staff, a Michigan facility for teenagers with behavioral problems on Thursday lost its contract with the state to care for youth in the state’s foster care and juvenile justice systems and its license to operate.

The termination of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ contract with Lakeside Academy in Kalamazoo came in the wake of the death last month of Cornelius Frederick. The 16-year-old went into cardiac arrest while being restrained on April 29 by Lakeside Academy staff. He died May 1. At the time, authorities said the teen was being restrained by staff after he threw a sandwich.

In announcing the termination of its contract and suspension of the operating license, Health and Human Services said an investigation of the for-profit Lakeside Academy found 10 licensing violations, including a failure to follow rules related to resident restraint and discipline. The agency contends the revocation of the license of a child caring institution is rare and occurs when there are serious licensing violations that make closure necessary to protect children.

Lakeside Academy officials did not immediately return calls for comment.

“MDHHS continues to mourn the loss of this young man’s life, which came needlessly to an end at the hands of those meant to care for him” said JooYeun Chang, executive director of the MDHHS Children’s Services Agency, in a prepared statement. “We are committed to protecting children and will not accept the completely unnecessary death of a youth who is deprived of the opportunity to grow up, complete his education, begin a career, and start a family.”

Kalamazoo County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Getting said Thursday his office is reviewing completed investigations to determine if criminal charges are authorized in Frederick’s death.

“If charges are brought, my office will be prosecuting the cases,” Getting said.

At the time of Frederick’s death, Lakeside Academy officials said in a statement the incident didn’t reflect the institution’s mission to “serve and care for our clients with excellence.”

However, Assistant Chief David Boysen of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety has said in the weeks leading up to Frederick’s death there were numerous calls for false fire alarms, runaway students and assaults. In addition, three chaotic days followed the boy’s death, as students fought and fled the facility.