KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered the state’s Department of Health and Human Services to no longer work with a company that provided staffing for a facility where a 16-year-old died this year while being wrongly restrained.
Whitmer said in a statement late Saturday that Sequel Youth and Family Services cannot provide services for facilities licensed by the state agency.
Cornelius Fredericks died May 1 after going into cardiac arrest April 29. At the time, authorities said he was being restrained by staff after throwing a sandwich.
The state on Thursday terminated its contracts with Lakeside Academy in Kalamazoo for youth in Michigan’s foster care and juvenile justice systems and said all 125 youth at Lakeside were placed in other “settings based on their individual needs.”
The facility also had its license to operate suspended.
The Associated Press left an email Sunday morning seeking comment from Sequel Family and Youth Services.
The foster care system or parents placed youths in Lakeside Academy, a residential treatment facility, to receive behavioral health services after being abused or neglected.
The agency’s Child Welfare Division along with law enforcement agencies have conducted investigations into Lakeside Academy.
“Protecting our most vulnerable is a top priority of my administration, and the senseless death of a youth at Lakeside for Children in Kalamazoo is intolerable and heartbreaking,” Whitmer said. “We will take steps to prevent tragedies like this from occurring in the future and make sure there is accountability.”
At the time of Fredericks’ death, Lakeside Academy officials said in a statement that the incident didn’t reflect the institution’s mission to “serve and care for our clients with excellence.”
Michigan Health and Human Services officials have said an investigation of the for-profit Lakeside Academy found 10 licensing violations, including a failure to follow rules related to resident restraint and discipline. The agency contends the revocation of the license of a child caring institution is rare and occurs when there are serious licensing violations that make closure necessary to protect children.
The agency also announced it would end the use of restraints against youth in its care, and review and change its policies.
Kalamazoo County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Getting said Thursday his office is reviewing completed investigations to determine whether criminal charges are authorized in Fredericks’ death.
The Legal Rights Center in Minneapolis called last week for Hennepin County, Minnesota, to stop placing children in Lakeside Academy for juvenile delinquency matters.
The county removed all Minnesota children from the facility after Fredericks’ death.
This story has been corrected to show that the boy who died was called Cornelius Fredericks, not Frederick.
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