Bethel Academy to Remain Open
By Brittany Brown
(August 2003) After much debate, Bethel Boys Academy will
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
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
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.
was reprinted with permission from
the George County Times