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Public Safety

San Diego County faces $1 million suit for death of foster teen

A family has filed a $1 million wrongful death suit against San Diego County alleging it failed to provide basic care and a safe, supervised environment after their teenage son died in a North County group home.

"My son had just turned 18 and he had a long life ahead of him, a big beautiful heart, he loved music, typical 18-year-old, athletic, he could make you laugh in point-three seconds," said Amanda Shane with a smile as she remembered her son Isaiah Shane during a news conference at the People's Association of Justice Advocates on Tuesday.

Isaiah Shane died in May of a drug overdose in a short-term group home in Escondido called Circle of Friends, where he was supposed to be getting treatment. He was taken there after being placed in foster care because of addiction and behavioral issues.

FOSTER DEATH FAMILY PRESS CONFERENCE 06
Matthew Bowler
Undated photo of Isaiah Shane shown at a news conference in San Diego, Nov. 16, 2021.

"But once my son went into the county’s custody he was not receiving those services," Amanda Shane said. "Why not? I don’t understand why?"

Shane Harris, the president of the People’s Association of Justice Advocates, said the home has a history of complaints that include sexual abuse and the county must take responsibility for placing the teen there.

"You’re telling me now with all of the complaints and the police chief and all of this involvement with law enforcement and the D.A. even took a case and charged someone who was a former employee for having inappropriate relations with a child, you’re telling me that it’s that hard for the county to muster up some courage and actually close the group home down?" Harris said.

FOSTER DEATH FAMILY PRESS CONFRANCE
Matthew Bowler
Shane Harris, president of the People’s Association of Justice Advocates, hosts a press conference for the family of Isaiah Shane, a young man who died while in a short-term group home, Circle of Friends. San Diego, Nov. 16, 2021.

In addition to the monetary claim, the county, state and board of the home must do the right thing and shut it down or they will face a lawsuit of their own, Harris aid.

"You’re telling me that the Circle of Friends board can’t find anywhere in their mind, 'Stop capitalizing of off these kids and just close it down?'" he said. "I think that that it’s pure arrogance and ego and I think that we are not going to stop until we get the end of this group home closed. They need to close it down now. It is demonstrated they don’t have the leadership to take care of these kids."

Amanda Shane said she wants her son to be remembered not by the way he died but for creating change that protects kids like him.

"That’s going to be a beautiful legacy to be remembered by when these changes have taken place and all the lawmakers do what they’re supposed to that’s how my son will be remembered," she said.

Circle of Friends did not respond to requests for comments. The county declined to comment because of the pending litigation.