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.”