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Eldora School Official Says Controversial Techniques Used For Safety

federal courthouse
Courtesy of U.S. Southern District of Iowa
An official at the Boys State Training School in Eldora testified Monday in federal court that controversial techniques are used as a last resort for student safety.

An official at a state-run school for delinquent teenage boys testified in federal court Monday that the use of an isolation chamber and physical restraints is for the protection, not punishment, of the students.

Lynn Allbee, the treatment program administrator at the Boys State Training School in Eldora, testified Monday that the controversial techniques are used as a last resort to ensure safety of students and staff after all other de-escalation techniques fail.

Allbee also testified that each time a technique is used, it must be approved by a senior school official and reviewed afterward with the student.

Allbee said the school's goal is to prepare the students, who are court-ordered to attend the institution, to return to society. She said the school has mental health and substance abuse programs, but those are not the school's primary functions.

"We're not a mental health facility," Allbee said. "We're not a substance abuse facility."

She said some students have been ordered to the school because they committed violent felonies.

The school passed a recent inspection that checked compliance with standards set by the American Correctional Association.

The Boys State Training School houses about 100 students, ages 12 to 18. At least half have a diagnosed mental illness.

The school has been accused of using unconstitutional and illegal practices to treat mental illness in a class action lawsuit filed by Disability Rights Iowa in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa.

District Judge Stephanie Rose will issue a ruling. 

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter