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Reformatory CP - February 1984

Corpun file 4539


The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, 16 February 1984

Spanking Probe Clears Children's Home

By Jim Etter

MIAMI, OK -- Ottawa County authorities said Wednesday they have given a clean bill of health to the Benjamin Quapaw Children's Home after investigating the institution because of a complaint about corporal punishment.

However, Mary Mann, Ottawa County Department of Human Services administrator, whose office made its own investigation and turned its findings over to the district attorney, said, "I wasn't aware the investigation was completed."

DHS officials last Wednesday removed four boys they had placed in the private facility because of concern over disciplinary measures, Mrs. Mann said.

Asked if they would be sent back to the home, which deals with boys ages 10 to 16, Mrs. Mann said, "That decision has not been made."

Assistant District Attorney Morland Barton said his office was asked to investigate recently when a grandmother in Missouri wrote to the DHS regarding punishment given to her grandson, who is in the home near this northeastern Oklahoma town. The home deals with juveniles with discipline problems, according to a member of the facility's board.

"Our investigation turned up nothing. I think the ... DHS people are looking at putting the kids back there," he said. "It was kind of blown out of proportion. The home just got a black eye it shouldn't have happened."

Barton said the grandmother apparently wrote the letter after "the kid complained to her that he got a spanking because he lied to some of them out there."

He said the investigation revealed the boys in general "like the home, but were a little disgruntled about the spanking."

Mark Rendel, chairman of the home's board of directors, said he could not confirm the district attorney's investigation was complete, but said he understood the probe had not turned up any evidence of child abuse.

Rendel said the home was given little information as to why the DHS removed the children, but said an agency representative categorized spanking at the facility as "punishment to the point of child abuse."

In addition to the four boys removed by the DHS, the state of Missouri removed two children they had placed in the home and another state agency removed two more, Rendel said.

The removals left the home with four residents, but about six people have contacted the staff about placing their children in the facility, Rendel said. The home, which receives the bulk of its funding from local churches, can handle 15 children, he said.

Rendel said the home's residents were questioned last week by DHS workers while the children were attending school.

The chairman confirmed that residents are sometimes spanked, but he said there are "not that many of them" and spankings are always witnessed.

Corpun file 4538


The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, 17 February 1984

1 Youth to Return to Home; Fate of 7 Others Unknown

By Jim Etter

One of eight boys removed from the Benjamin Quapaw Children's Home as a result of a corporal punishment issue will be returned to the home today, but the future of the others is unclear, officials said Thursday.

Steve Hudspeth, administrator of the home northeast of here, also criticized the first removal of four boys by officials of the state Department of Human Services from the home last week, which was spurred by a complaint that one of them had been spanked.

"As far as I'm concerned, this should never have gotten out of hand," he said. "Anyone could see that they didn't want to go." He said some of the boys were "crying and screaming" as they were being taken away, and "it took them (officials) an hour to get one boy in the car."

The DHS had placed the four boys in the home, a private institution for youngsters with discipline problems.

After the first four boys were removed, a second group of four was taken from the home by case workers with the court-related community services division of the department.

They were to be kept elsewhere only "until the thing got cleared up," Hudspeth said. The youth being returned today is from the second group, he said.

Hudspeth said he understood the institution had been cleared of wrongdoing after an investigation by the Ottawa County district attorney's office, but that he hadn't been told when, or if all the boys would be returned.

Ann Beam, a spokeswoman for the DHS in Oklahoma City, said she didn't know whether the youths would be returned. The boys are being kept in foster homes for now, she said.

Ms. Beam said the department originally investigated the spanking complaint, then turned its recommendation over to the Ottawa County prosecutor's office.

But she said the department hasn't received any reply from that office regarding any follow-up probe by the prosecutor's office or any action on the department's recommendation.

She declined to reveal what the recommendation was.

"We haven't received a formal communication at least I'm not aware of it in regard to this case," she said.

Ms. Beam said any action to replace the youths in the home probably would be taken by the Ottawa County office of the DHS, in conjunction with the department's office at the state level.

Mary Mann, administrator of the Ottawa County office, couldn't be reached for comment Thursday.

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