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Posted September 9, 2003 

Bethel Academy to Remain Open
Under Watchful Eye

By Brittany Brown


(August 2003) After much debate, Bethel Boys Academy will remain open.

At a Jackson County Court hearing on August 21, 2003 a consent decree issued from the State of Mississippi was declared effective by Chancery Court Judge Pat Watts.

The decree contained multiple changes that are mandatory for Bethel to remain open.

One of the stipulations under the order Employees and Control, requires Herman E. Fountain Sr., who supervised the school from its opening in 1976 until 2001, to relinquish any and all interest and control with Bethel. He also must execute all documents, legal or other wise, upon making his departure effective within 120 days.

However, this decree allows Fountain to remain pastor of the Bethel Baptist Church.

Also, under this order, background checks will be required for all employees, prospective employees, volunteers, and prospective volunteers. In the event that any criminal record is found, employees shall be terminated immediately, and prospective employees will be disqualified.

Other changes for Bethel include:

Abuse and Neglect Policy. A policy must be enforced, strictly forbidding abuse and neglect to any child residing at Bethel Academy by any employee, volunteer or other child residing there.

Consultants- A skilled consultant(s) will be retained by Bethel to implement and create policies and advise in areas necessary for the efficiency operation of the academy.

Training and Certification- All employees or persons having regular contact with children residing at Bethel shall be trained and certified in their appropriate field.

Premises- The installation of a video system and/or the upgrading of an existing system shall be implemented to monitor all areas of the academy. Also, all electric fences must be removed from the property, and the use of any electrical devices in the discipline of any children will be prohibited. The premises must be susceptible to open investigation by the State and/or its agencies, upon reasonable notice.

Education- Bethel must comply with all state laws regarding education of children. Each child must be tested to determine his appropriate educational level.

Health and Medical Treatment- Reasonable and appropriate medial treatment must be provided with the employment of a fulltime nurse. In the event the care they need is greater than can be provided at the facility, treatment by a licensed physician must be arranged.

Discipline and Family Communication Polices- The academy is to create and implement discipline and family communication policies which shall be approved by the parents or guardians of the children residing at Bethel, and which shall be available to authorized inspection personnel upon request.

Reporting- The implementation of a written policy regarding reporting any type of mental or physical neglect and/or abuse. This allows the incident to be reported to a superior while protecting the child from any retaliation for making the allegations.

Community advisory Board- A board composed of community leaders, health care professionals, educators, law enforcement officials and others, will meet periodically at Bethel to conduct surveys, talk with children residing there and to suggest any necessary improvements.

Monitoring-The Court shall appoint a guardian ad 1item who will be responsible for seeing that the terms of the decree are followed through, as well as any recommended concerns for the wellbeing of the children.

Controlling Provisions- Bethel will be responsible for complying with all applicable laws of the state regarding the operation of the academy.

Resources-Bethel must make an ongoing effort to obtain all resources needed to insure their compliance with the decree. In order for bethel Boys Academy to continue in operation, they must comply with all components of the consent decree. After a three year period, Bethel may petition the Court to have the decree removed.

This article was reprinted with permission from
the George County Times

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