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Posted December 2, 2004 

This is a letter we emailed to the Attorney General of the State of Utah. Mark said to forward it to your email.

Thanks for helping!

Lisa Meier

-----Original Message-----

Dear Mr. Shurtleff,

We received a call from the Division of Child and Family Services on November 23rd to inform us that a DCFS employee had interviewed our daughter in connection with child abuse accusations against the Whitmore Academy. We were told that our daughter appeared unusually anxious during the interview, giving rise to some suspicion that she may have been witholding or hiding information. When we were able to talk with our daughter about that day's events, she told us a frightening story of police officers showing up at the Whitmore Academy classroom, ushering the students outside, lining them up, and driving them away in squad cars for interviews concerning accusations of child abuse against the Whitmore Academy.

We honestly question why the DCFS employee would wonder why our daughter had been unusually anxious in the interview. (Under the circumstances, I would have been terrified!) Given that the Whitmore Academy specializes in helping youth with troubled histories, we also question why the DCFS did not go out of their way to be more sensitive to the needs of this population of students.

From our experience, the Whitmore Academy operates with complete openness and transparency. Any parent can visit at any time, unannounced, and visit their child any time without supervision by the Whitmore Academy owners or staff. The kids are not coerced or intimidated in any way. Even though it was not our daughter's choice to go to the Whitmore, she has chosen to stay. Furthermore, it has only been because of the help of the Whitmore Academy that she is gradually blossoming into the young woman she was meant to be, someone who knows who she is. This could not happen in an abusive environment.

I have no concerns whatsoever that the owners of the Whitmore are being anything but loving, nurturing, and respectful to our daughter and the other students in their care. I am, however, concerned that the state of Utah seemed to use unsubstantiated accusations as a reason to frighten our daughter and physically remove her from the premises of the Whitmore Academy without our knowledge or consent.

We feel confident that there is no basis for the current investigation into the Whitmore Academy. We respectfully request a careful examination of the disruptive way the current investigation is being conducted. The actions of the DCFS continue to have a traumatic effect on the students in the Whitmore program. The manner of the DCFS investigation works against the goals of the Whitmore -- goals of turning around troubled youth to the point where they can become productive members of society. The great state of Utah no doubt shares these goals.

Respectfully,

Dan and Lisa Meier
Lisa.Allen@alum.juilliard.edu

Copyright © 2004, Woodbury Reports, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
(This article may not be reproduced without written approval of the publisher.)


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