Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Injustice

San Pasqual Academy Supporters File Lawsuit Against State, County

Exterior of San Pasqual Academy in Escondido. May 4, 2021.

Photo by Tania Thorne

Above: Exterior of San Pasqual Academy in Escondido. May 4, 2021.

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.

Listen to this story by Tania Thorne.

“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.

RELATED: San Diego County Supervisors OK Contract Extension For San Pasqual Academy

“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.

Reported by Tania Thorne

FEATURED PODCAST

San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Photo of Tania Thorne

Tania Thorne
North County Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI love hearing from the community and listening to what's important to you. No story is too small. If it matters to you, more than likely it matters to somebody else too.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.