Sunday, July 24, 2016 | Subscribe

Manor to close doors after 80 years

A series of reports detailing alle­gations of abuse at a local special edu­cation facility has forced the non-profit to close its doors.

The Manor, founded in 1930, is a special edu­cation facility in Jonesville, Mich., that treats children with mental, physical, and emo­tional dis­abilities from ages 6 to 18. Many of The Manor’s patients are disabled as the result of abuse.

The Manor recently turned in its operating license to the state. While vol­untary, it was done under pressure from the Michigan Department of Human Services, according to Dave Ackerly, the department’s director of mar­keting and public relations.

All 130 Manor employees will be laid off and its 47 patients will be moved to homes throughout Michigan, said Jonathan Beal, The Manor’s director of development.

“It’s not one thing very recent, all of sudden, out of nowhere,” Ackerly said. “There’s been a history here.”

Licensing inves­ti­gators have filed at least 34 special inves­tigative reports in the past three years con­cerning rule vio­lations by The Manor staff.

These reports, available on the state of Michigan’s website, contain accounts of reported misconduct.

Many of the alle­gations, filed both by staff members as well as Manor res­idents, were found to be baseless by the state’s investigator.

Some were, however, confirmed.

These vio­lations range from minor injuries self-inflicted by res­idents while fighting restraint, to an abusive sexual rela­tionship between two residents.

Other con­firmed vio­lations include pre­scription drug abuse, a dating rela­tionship between a staff member and an 18-year-old resident, and physical abuse.

The reports attribute several vio­lations involving insuf­ficient super­vision and tantrums resulting in physical harm to a lack of staffing.

A report was filed on Aug. 3, 2012, advising the Michigan DHS to revoke The Manor’s operating license. This report was unavailable to The Col­legian at press time.

The Manor’s target closing date is March 1 — provided suitable homes can be found for all the children before then.

“This is a huge loss to the local com­munity,” Beal said. “Not only because The Manor provided employment but also because of the service it provided to Michigan.”

Beal noted that The Manor took in children and young adults other insti­tutions wouldn’t because of the severity of their disabilities.

The Manor’s closing marks the end a long rela­tionship between the special edu­cation facility and Hillsdale College.

According to The Col­legian archives, a Hillsdale psy­chology pro­fessor took his class to The Manor in its first year of operation in 1930.

In the 83 years since, Hillsdale, par­tic­ularly the Greek system, has been involved with The Manor either by raising money, sending vol­unteers to Jonesville, and host

ing events for Manor patients on campus. Students stared a GOAL program for The Manor just a few years ago.

Associate Dean of Women Rebekah Dell said it’s sad to see the rela­tionship between the college vol­unteers and The Manor patients come to an end.

“Not only for what it’s meant to The Manor students, but to our students as well,” said Dell, who is also adviser to GOAL.

Dell said that with the closing of The Manor program, GOAL will look at beginning new programs or simply directing more resources into other programs to continue student outreach in the community.

While The Manor campus will close with the entirety of its child care, Beal said its adult assisted living programs will continue to function at two houses.

“We will need con­tinual com­munity support to provide that service to Hillsdale County,” Beal said.

The Manor GOAL program director, senior Elizabeth Matheson, said that the institution’s problems are sad, but not nec­es­sarily surprising.

“This whole thing is a question of is it good, is it bad that it’s closing. This place is their home,” Matheson said. “But maybe its better they’re moving somewhere else.”

  • Loretta White

    Ms. Matheson thinks it’s “better” that our clients are moving elsewhere? How about the children who need a highly structured living envi­ronment that DHS is sending to Group Homes or Shelters? Will they be better off when they end up in Detention or Jail because they have a tantrum? Do you even have any idea what the def­i­nition of a tantrum is in a facility like ours? Is it better to take a child away from someplace they think of as home? Many of our children have never had sta­bility or even love until they came to The Manor. There are so many things that this article does not even begin to touch on. Maybe you should think of a follow-up article that does more than list a bunch of “facts”. Remeber there are two sides to any story.

    • seamore butts

      are you a manor foun­dation employee?

    • Ebony Davis

      well I think most of your facts are right and some wrong I used to live at the manor before it closed I sometimes think that since to prevent from those same ali­gations from hap­pening its a good thing the manor closed but I also think that there was other solutions than closing the manor it broke are hearts that the manor was closing its doors but mostly because we became a family between one another we became close between each other and not only each other but the hillsdale dale collge students that spared there time with us but until the time came up when we had to leave we cryied together and cryed our self to self until th day came and my mind hasn’t changed that became my home and you guys became a part of our manor family and that’s what I think and how I feel

  • http://NotAvailable Dane Russell

    In a way,I’m par­tially responsible for The Manor’s demise…I was a student there from
    Sep­tember 3,1972 to June 12,1981. I went through the MOST HORRIBLE ABUSE!

    • kathleen s

      my son lived at the Manor from 2001 to 2007 they treated him like crap they didn’t appreciate him they put in restraints when he wouldn’t do what they wanted him to do it wouldn’t feed him a lot of food is always hungry hey it was the worst place for my son so I am so glad that they’re closing so they could never harm another child ever again good riddance to the man are you suck they would never call you when someone tries to child to find out from your child what was going on and they would never tell you but medicine change so I don’t know other child get armed before they actually remove all the children from the manor

  • Unknown

    Now, for the other side of the story. I have just recently heard about the closing of the Manor. To me, known as The Manor Foun­dation. I noted the above entry, of a graduate who started at the school in 1972. I started in 1966, I left in 1971. I had learning dis­abilities, and a temper problem. There were problems at the school, but nothing that I would say jus­tified the closing of the school. I had been insti­tu­tion­alized prior to going to Manor, an orphan and ward of the State. For me the Manor Foun­dation was the chance of a lifetime.

    I was grateful, and am still grateful for all the help this school did for me. I say to my wife all the time, I would not be where I am today if it were not for the guidance, of people like Ms. Jo, Miss Betty, her husband Bill, and their son Rob. I am 61 years old now, with Step grand­children all over the place. Let me put it this way, to express the com­passion and care these people gave. When I invited the Clarks, Ms. Betty and Mr. Rob and his wife to my wedding, they came all the way to Lansing to see me married. Ms. Betty had a prior obligation that day, but Rob and Jane were there. People just don’t do something like that unless there is some very special rela­tionship there. There was, I was a former student who appre­ciated the help and edu­cation they provided.

    This Dave Russel guy, who I do not know, who came to the Manor just a year after I graduated in 1972 is so full of it. He was not abused, or put out the way he describes. Robert Clark is one of the finest human beings I know. He was running the school at that time. I visited the school on several occasions since my departure. I might add, unarranged, unan­nounced, a total surprise. The kids were smiling, attended to, and being educated. Mr. Rob gave me personal tours through the school, showing me, as well as my wife the new facilities, no abuse, hurt kids, not a sign of beatings , no one being slammed around. Nothing of the sort. It bothers me that people fall for a bunch of fab­ri­cations such as these.

    Here’s what actually seems to have happened. The State of Michigan which became the primary funder of The Manor, was in financial hardship. The budget had to be cut. What better way than to listen to some off the wall advocacy group who opposes insti­tu­tion­al­ization of any kind who gleans tes­timony from people by the power of sug­gestion, and imag­i­nation. By the time they were done, a dis­ci­plinary action became torture by being hanged by the thumbs.
    To me this is a sad unfor­tunate sit­uation. One of the finest schools in this State whose goal is to create a sit­uation and envi­ronment which moves a dis­turbed child toward inde­pendence, with one success story after another is shut down over the unre­liable tes­timony of angry former students who did not succeed because they did not want to succeed.
    It angers me. I see so many holes in this story, so many questions not answered. And yet, the Media, has not even taken the serious time to look into this thing, and find out the facts. The real facts. What really happened and why was the Manor really closed.

    • the man

      it sound like u have a head on your sholders at least u question if the alged abuse happened or not

  • Ebony Davis

    Its to bad they had to close their doors over some bull

  • Pamela vest

    My child was there in 2010 for 1’year, they not only were abusive to the kids the dis­re­spected parents to. I hate the manor and still have a lot of anger at them. My child was there under DHS they mis­un­derstood or was never told why my child was removed it was not for something I did as there was no abuse at home but the treated me so bad and my son to it is an ugly place in where the res­idents live as I forced them to let me have a tour through the court but the buildings or rooms the show the public are nice. My son was retrained at least one a day the said he attacked staff a lot. I took him home despite them saying he was not ready and he has been home for 2 years and not one episode of violence ummm if he needed to be there why is he doing so well now? The place makes kids worse. I have been waiting to see this place close down I knew it would happen. That place had several reports but the incident between my son and another boy where the boy molested my son that was caught in camera and admitted to by the counselor was never on any of those reports so I think there was a lot of unre­ported things going on to. Horrible horrible place!

  • Chelsea Warren

    I was a resident there in 2008 I was only there for months it was the most mis­erable time of my life you taught no structure but teaching innocent children that wentvthrough enough trauma when they were at home that when your bad you deserve to be locked in a closet, what did you people think you were really teaching you allowed confused children to be inbre­la­tionships with eachother you syou mixed all ages together, the school was a joke the whole program was a joke im glad that place closed, I felt bad for them young children who had to be there and go through the con­fussion of y they were bein treated like crap everyday they didnt ask to be there, I was there I seen with my own eyes I got pulled out because that program wasnt fit for me, and I could go on and on about everything I seen.. but im going to leave it at this I was in 3 other programs before yours and none of them treated anybody or did any of the things the manor did in all honestly I dont no how they stayed open as long as they did!!!!!!

  • Jordan Pettit

    I was a client at the manor foun­dation for 12 years and I’m only 22 years old so I was there most of my life. I’ve been reading all the horrible comments from some of the people on here and I wish some people would just keep their mouths shut. I don’t believe the bull crap coming out of their mouths. Manor was full of kids who either had some sort of mental insta­bility or didn’t have a family outside of the manor. Manor was full of staff that worked hard on a daily basis to do everything they could to help turn people’s lives around and to become family for those who at the time didn’t have a family. I’m so grateful for the manor. They suc­ceeded in helping me turn my life com­pletely around. My anger problems were extremely severe when I was little but with the manor foundation’s help my anger is no longer a problem. To everyone that worked at the manor, thank you so much for helping, caring for, and loving me.

    –Jordan Pettit–

    • Nathan DeFoy

      My name is Nathan Defoy. I was a client of Manor Foun­dation back in the early ‘80s. Now,I do believe that The manor was there to help kids. I remember Jo Prasser. She was an amazing woman,and I loved her dearly.I was taken away from my family when I was 7.So this place was all I had at that time. A lot of policies that were in place then I didn’t agree with. Such as the restraining policies. And the con­finement policies and being locked in a quiet room for 5 days under iso­lation. When I was there they had a room down­stairs that was built to take ppeople away from the general pop­u­lation .I spent a time or two in there for up to 30 days one time. Some staff members using excessive force on students and causing injuries. I won’t name any names but I was aware of a rape up there. Some things in the above articles Did actually happen. People get what they get out of any sit­uatoin. Peoples expe­riences are there own. Now for me I hated it. I still have an anger problem and I still HATE people putting there hands on me.I hit real fast and won’t get “restrained”. So In ending, maybe Manor Foun­dation was good for most and maybe it was a good thing that it was shut down. 83 years of good intentions and many success stories (which I don’t claim mine as one), is a hard pill to swallow. So maybe a revamping of policy and pro­cedure and maybe a new director(I knew Fred Prasser well).Replacement of man­agement and staff and rule revision would bring Manor Foun­dation back on line. But then again maybe it’s time to say farewell, be gone and good riddance.

  • Lamar Marshall

    This is a bunch of bullshit I should know I was there when I was kid for a long time. That place may have had its ups an downs but so did is kids dat was there, u have to remember an realize sum of the kids dat were there did have problems an were very super strong. U DHS muthafucz ain’t Shit u don’t know wat it was like in there for real know u dumb muthafucz then probably sent those kids to sum were twice as bad u punk bitches.
    I may have thought I hated that place because I ran away from it but as I got older I realize that place was best for me if I only gave it a chance.
    U People ain’t Shit.

  • Lamar Marshall

    U know wat I’m sorry because time du change I’m 38 know an when I went I was like 12 or 14, so I’m sorry for my out burst ok

    • Dsne Russell

      No harm, no foul, no problem-o! But please… bear in mind… students were being abused and I was through the worst.. I forgive you for your outburst Lamar… I forgive you. Please… join our group at you’re welcome to join us anytime

  • steven church

    i was there from 1995 to 2000. There was a few staff who were cruel Nikki Green bridget and Kim swick. Nikki grabbed me by my throat and choked me while in the presence of brigett. and kim swick slammed my face against the wall and chipped my tooth. Kim fal­sified the incident report saying i slammed my own face against the wall. though i was violent as a child i didnt deserve this. There are alot of great staff there. most were won­derful, but the few that weren’t screwed it up for the innocence.

  • http://Aug21968 ricky hodge

    I was at the manor for a long time

    • tracy

      I know am kind of late. But I just seen what happen about the Manor foun­dation closing. Do to abuse. I was there in in the mid 80s. An it was horrible very horrible.The stuff treated Me like garbage An abused Me very bad. I had no one to tell or help me.They would lock me in the quiet room for days. Sometimes not let me use the bathroom. I do remember a staff Name Connie an she was ok an she took me home a few times on the weekend an did find things with me.An a stuff name Peggy.. But one thing I can say I was very happy when I got the hell out of there.. That place was not fit for a dog. I wish someone had deflection to me when I was ttrying to to someone about the shit was going on. Sad it took this long.

  • Connie Stahl Abamski

    I worked as a cook at the manor foun­dation! I quit due to he abuse! That was back in the late 80’s. WHAT TOOK SO LONG!??

  • Larry B

    Hey everyone, Wow, I know this is way late (meaning way past-tense) but I just wanted to interject my thoughts on the Manor Foun­dation. I was sent there by the State (I guess) when I was just about 7, or had just turned 7. I had a broken arm, and was severely Mal-nutritioned, my skin was yellow, eyes were messed up etc. The only thing I can tell you for certain… the female staff started crying when they seen first met me, that much I remember per­fectly. So in short when I first showed up, I was pretty messed up phys­ically. As for the emo­tional and behavioral issues going on, I assume that goes without saying. I had gone through the whole gamut of abuse from my original parents and people asso­ciated with them, which had nothing to do with the Manor. I am probably one of the worst people for remem­bering names, maybe it’s tied to some “distance” issue, or whatever, but I do remember how people treat me, react to my questions and or per­sonality traits of people, and how people treat one another. So, with that being said, I do remember Rob (the head guy at the time)Fred, my coach (Steve), well I called him coach, Fred’s wife Josie, (which I had for­gotten) Mary (a “general” staff member), Mrs. Jabour? (I still don’t know how to spell her last name:-) ) and a few others, that I just don’t remember their names. I was probably not one of the better students, I remember spending a lot of time in the “quiet room” and then when they built the new part of the school, I spent plenty of time in there as well, it’s funny, but I don’t really remember the reasons I ended up in quite room, I just remember being really mad and phys­ically lashing out. I know this is a long reply or whatever, but my main point is simply this… I believe the Manor Foun­dation was the best place for me at the time, sure, I didn’t go anywhere else, so I don’t really have a com­parison to make, but over all, I am glad I was there. (75 – 81)I am proud to have been at the Manor Foun­dation, I am proud to know Fred Prassor and his family, and many other people who really tried hard to have a positive impact on my life. It’s easy for me to sit here today and look back, and see the BIG picture, to see the whole scope of things now, I will be honest and tell you not EVERYTHING was peaches and cream, I know of things that were not good, but most of those (95%) things were from the older kids (just boys at the time I was there) NOT from the staff. Let me put it another way, I only remember 1, ONE boy, BY NAME from those 6 – 7 years or so, he was really my best friend, maybe ever… his first name was Richard, I won’t mention his last name, plus I may not be able to spell it cor­rectly anyway. There are things that happen to each of in life, most of it caused, positive or negative, by other people. Now, you can take all those things and live your life based on the things of the past (espe­cially if those things are negative) and continue to lash out to other people, or abuse yourself because you are still hurt from the things of the past, or, I suppose… you can try to figure out a way to deal with the past, that’s not illegal, abusive or for­getting (act like it never happened). I was clearly given A LOT of grace, I was not a good kid when I left the Manor, I really DID have to be given the chance to “mature”, but I also had to forgive, I am not 10000% sure I have FULLY forgiven, I may not fully understand how to really do that, but to the extent I can understand, I do forgive. To me, the Manor foun­dation, my parents now, friends along the way… but espe­cially God, has given me a lot of grace, and a lot of for­giveness, and for that… I am grateful. Larry B.

    • Dane Russell

      Larry,You’re still my friend…I am not mad at you or have any grudges against you. I’m also on Facebook if you would like to send me a friendship request. I still support you even to this very day.

  • Dane Russell

    I still think THE MANOR SUCKS EGGS even today!