San Pasqual Academy Supporters File Lawsuit Against State, County
Wednesday, August 4, 2021
Photo by Tania Thorne
San Pasqual Academy, the residential educational campus for foster youth in Escondido, has been granted an extension to stay open until next year, but no new students can enroll.
San Pasqual Academy supporters filed a lawsuit today in an effort to secure the school’s future.
“This is not a controversial issue, everyone wants to help our kids do better and this is a program that works so this is something we should all be able to get behind,” said Charles LiMandri, the attorney representing SPA plaintiffs.
The lawsuit was filed against the state of California and the county of San Diego for the attempt to shut down the program.
LiMandri said SPA is a unique institution and needs a carve-out in the federal law that prevents its funding.
“They're going to need to give it a special licensing category because it is unique. It's not a typical foster home situation, nor is it a group home. Certainly not one of these short-term residential facilities either,” he said.
Earlier this year, SPA staff and students found out about the school’s closure through a newspaper.
LiMandri claims the state and county’s push to close SPA violated the foster youths’ rights.
“There’s something called the foster youth bill of rights, which says that children in the foster care system, particularly those who are in their teenage years and high school-bound, are entitled to have input into decisions that are going to affect their education and living arrangements,” he said.
The school was granted an extension until June 2022 but no new students would be referred to the program.
“So to take them out of this system and put them back in the structure. Remember these are the kids that were not only not thriving within the typical foster care system," LiMandri said. "They kind of fell out of the system and they could very easily end up on the streets because there's no placement for them.”
Natasha Strain is a SPA alumna and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
“This place is for kids 12 to 18 (years old), and that's the gap in foster care…. this place helps fill that gap,” she said. They feel more wanted here, a place where they can grow and become a better person.”
She hopes the lawsuit will keep SPA open for future foster youth.
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