State Training School Resident Attacks Worker; DHS Calls for Law Change

May 9, 2018

Another worker at Iowa’s school for delinquent boys has been attacked by a resident.

According to Iowa Department of Human Services, a student of the state training school at Eldora punched a staff member in the face on Saturday, May 5.

DHS Director Jerry Foxhoven described the resulting injuries at a meeting Wednesday.

“The doctors have said that his injuries look like what they get from somebody from a very serious car accident,” Foxhoven said.

He added doctors think the worker will need six months to recover, and will lose several teeth and require plates to repair broken bones in his face. He may never regain the ability to taste and smell.

Foxhoven renewed his call for a law change that would designate the state training school as a correctional facility rather than a treatment center. He said workers injured by residents at the state training school currently don’t get the same benefits as correctional officers in prisons because they’re not classified the same way.

A DHS bill to do that failed to pass the Iowa Legislature this session.

Some critics called the re-classification bill an attempt to reduce mental health services at the school.

“We are not intending to eliminate mental health services for kids in Eldora but this facility needs to have at least some recognition of who the kids are that we’re taking care of there because our people are getting attacked and getting permanently injured, seriously injured,” Foxhoven said.

Foxhoven and other officials are currently being sued in federal court by Disability Rights Iowa over allegations of improper use of isolation rooms and restraints, as well as insufficient mental health services.

In March, state officials said four state training school students attacked a worker and escaped for a few hours.

That prompted a union that represents state workers to release a statement blaming Disability Rights Iowa for creating unsafe working conditions at the school.

DHS spokesman Matt Highland says the school currently has 103 youths “who were adjudicated mainly for offenses against a person, including felonies and aggravated misdemeanors.”