San Pasqual Academy Must Meet Conditions To Remain Open
Tuesday, May 4, 2021
Photo by Tania Thorne
Advocates for San Pasqual Academy (SPA) continue the push to keep the foster youth facility open, as the state is trying to close its doors.
In order for an extension to be granted, however, the county and academy supporters must agree to a set of conditions that the state has outlined in a letter. The condition advocates find most troubling is that no more foster youth can enroll in San Pasqual Academy.
“To say that you are no longer going to send youth to this campus is to say that this academy will close,” said Rev. Shane Harris, the government liaison for SPA.
Advocates will be asking the San Diego County Board of Supervisors for an amendment to the agreement, allowing new foster youth enrollment.
Pressure from the state, the loss of federal funds and falling enrollment have put SPA in danger of closing. In March, the state informed the facility their program would be ending in October. One of the reasons cited for shutting SPA down is a new federal law that discourages funding for congregate living in foster care facilities.
The Rev. Shane Harris is a former foster youth who attended SPA. He suggests the valuable land the academy sits on may be one reason motivating officials in charge.
“There's a different goal with these 238 acres that maybe... just maybe, the state and the county have invested in. And I would like to know what that is,” he said.
“What is the plan for these 238 acres?”
County Supervisor Jim Desmond was not available to comment.
San Pasqual Academy, a one-of-a-kind residential educational campus for foster youth, is tucked in the hills of rural Escondido near Wild Animal Park. Harris says closing SPA will affect many lives.
“So we kick this set of youth out, the youth we are responsible for, the dependents of the state and of the court, many of them who have no family, we put them out of their home,” said Harris.
Currently, there are 82 foster youths living at SPA. Fifteen alumni that have graduated from SPA have returned to live there, and more than 100 staff members are running the program.
Until an agreement is reached, the October date to close down SPA still stands.
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