Manor to close doors after 80 years

by Caleb Whitmer on February 8, 2013

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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.” (1446)

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Loretta White February 13, 2013 at 10:11 am

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.

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2 seamore butts August 25, 2013 at 3:59 am

are you a manor foundation employee?

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3 Ebony Davis September 21, 2013 at 12:52 am

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

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4 Dane Russell March 29, 2013 at 11:57 pm

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!
NO HUMAN BEING HAS TO GO THROUGH WHAT I WENT THROUGH! I know…I’m THE INFAMOUS WHISTLEBLOWER who BLEW THE WHISTLE on The Manor FOR CHILD ABUSE…AND I’M DAMN PROUD OF MYSELF FOR TURNING IN THOSE DAMN BUTCHERS IN FOR CHILD ABUSE! SO LONG MANOR! IT’S BEEN NICE KNOWIN’ YOU,YOU DAMN BUTCHERS!

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5 kathleen s September 4, 2013 at 10:30 am

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

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6 Unknown August 22, 2013 at 6:16 pm

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.

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7 the man October 4, 2013 at 2:03 am

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

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8 Ebony Davis September 21, 2013 at 1:01 am

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

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9 Pamela vest October 4, 2013 at 9:35 am

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!

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