Advocates Fight To Keep San Pasqual Academy Open
Speaker 1: 00:00 Closing San Pasqual foster youth Academy in Escondido is seen by some as part of the state success in placing foster children in homes instead of institutions, but advocates for this first in the nation residential education campus for foster youth are fighting the plan closure, which has recently been moved up to October of this year. Supporters say children at San Pasqual are already in a family-like setting and the school has paved success for many former students. Now, an effort is on to carve an exception to a federal law aimed at closing facilities like San Pasqual, San Pasqual Academy director, Tia Morris spoke yesterday at a press conference to implore the community to help keep spa open. Speaker 2: 00:47 The opportunities provided there, allow our kids to live their dreams. I hope that there is some empathy out there. You need to put yourself in these kids' shoes. You really do. And once you step in their shoes and you hear them, you will understand their true voice and their real stories. Speaker 1: 01:05 Joining me is Joan Scott, the president of the friends of San Pasqual Academy, and Joan, welcome to the program. Speaker 3: 01:12 Thank you very much for having me for Speaker 1: 01:14 People unfamiliar with San Pasqual. Could you describe what the Academy does and who your students are? Speaker 3: 01:20 Well, we have been caring for foster kids for over 20 years and the success stories are many and our kids come through no fault of their own through circumstances of abuse, neglect, abandonment for various reasons. And San Pasqual has provided them a safe, stable, nurturing environment. And they have told these kids, some of them have been placed. 10, 20, 30 times have been moved to various home after home. By the time they come to San Pasqual Academy, we have told them, you do not have to move away from here. This is your home. We will care for you. We will find your gifts and talents and nurture you. We will let you heal from your trauma that you've experienced, and this will be your family. Speaker 1: 02:18 [inaudible] falls into the category of congregate living facilities for foster children. And that's a category which federal law wants to eliminate. The push is to get kids into the care of foster families. Wouldn't your students be better off in family? Speaker 3: 02:35 Well, ideally that would be the best situation. However, reality is different for many of these kids, many of our kids have been placed previously with faster foster families and have suffered abuse and neglect. Some of them have been placed and have had success stories, but the majority of our kids have been placed home to home, to home in foster families and foster care. And, and when they arrive at San Pasqual Academy, they say, thank you, Sam Pasqual Academy has saved me because here I am allowed to stay and create my own family here and come home when I go to college. Um, and it, it is a village. Speaker 1: 03:24 And so many of the kids feel that San Pasqual is their family. So what's been the reaction of students who attend the Academy to its potential closure. Speaker 3: 03:35 The students at San Pasqual Academy are devastated. They have been told that this has been their last placement, uh, in the article of the union, it's said in the, that was, that came out February 21st. It said that the kids would be moved and placed other places as beginning as next, as early as next month, which is now. And you can imagine the trauma that they experienced, just learning about that in a newspaper article. So they have lost trust in adults, as you well know, many adults in their lives have failed them. They have lost this trust. And now they're saying to your more, they say, well, why do we trust you? You weren't going to be here. And where am I going to be? I'm forced to leave my home. And it's just been so traumatizing for them. And the staff, Speaker 1: 04:30 A notable alumni of San Pasqual, civil rights activist. Shane Harris has written to the governor in an effort to keep the school open. What other actions is the school taking to hang on? Speaker 3: 04:42 Well, that's the question. Shane Harris has been a wonderful advocate. He attended spa for two years. And so he knows firsthand what San Pasqual Academy has to offer that it is not a group home and should not be classified as a group home. It is one of a kind in the nation. I know that there's a push to get state officials, federal officials, and the County officials together to sit down and finally figure out how to keep San Pasqual open permanently. It has to start at the County level and appeal to the state. And I think once they realize that San Pasqual Academy does not fall under a group home or congregate care home, that it is a special, unique home and school and community that they can figure out a way to keep San Pasqual Academy open. Speaker 1: 05:37 When will you know the outcome of these efforts to keep the school open? Speaker 3: 05:41 Well, I know next Tuesday, the County board of supervisors is asking the state to extend it, to keep it open. However, we're unsure of that. There's another process of getting another extension, but I think the line is, is that we need to keep this open permanently and finally do what's right, and be the voice of reason our alumni and our current foster kids are appealing to these officials. They're telling firsthand. And I quote San Pasqual Academy has saved my life. Other quotes without San Pasqual Academy. I would not have become the successful adult I am today. I mean, they have been letting their stories known and it's very, very impactful and meaningful about how San Pasqual Academy has made a difference in their lives. Speaker 1: 06:35 Well, I want to thank you for speaking to us about this today. I've been speaking with Joan Scott, president of the friends of San Pasqual Academy. Thanks for your time. Speaker 3: 06:45 Very much.