Iowa education officials have been aware since at least 2011 of allegations of mistreatment at a now-shuttered boarding school for troubled teenagers, but they believed they didn’t have the authority to act, records show.
The state education department considered Midwest Academy in Keokuk an unregulated home school that wasn’t subject to oversight, according to complaints and emails provided under the open-records law.
The records were released hours after the Iowa Senate passed a bill to give state agencies more authority to oversee such facilities.
Investigators are also looking into whether academy leaders engaged in a pattern of child endangerment by putting students in small “isolation boxes” for days at a time.
A version of this article appeared in the March 16, 2016 edition of Education Week as Education Agency Unable to Regulate Troubled School