A recent state investigation found significant problems with a special education program in Torrington run by EdAdvance, one of six regional educational service centers, or RESCs, in the state. RESCs are publicly-funded schools that offer a variety of programs, including specialized services for students with disabilities who can’t be taught at their home schools.
But a former social worker at EdAdvance’s Torrington location said the school was rife with problems, and a state investigation agreed.
Investigators found that students were placed in the EdAdvance program without discussing whether it was a good fit for the students. Many of these students have suffered from trauma and some had recently been released from a psychiatric care facility.
District officials reduced access to counseling for some students, and sometimes the people making these decisions did not even know the students, the investigation found.
"Torrington just ran roughshod over the rights of parents and students and ended up with kids in programs that were just wholly inappropriate," said Andrew Feinstein, an attorney representing the social worker who blew the whistle on the school.
"The type of practices used by EdAdvance paves the road of the school-to-prison pipeline," Feinstein said.
The company's executive director, Jeff Kitching, declined to be recorded for this story, but said that most of the problems uncovered were the responsibility of the district and not his school. He said the problems have been addressed and he looks forward to putting this in the past.
Attorney Feinstein was skeptical.
"I haven't seen evidence of that," he said. "The fundamental issue of how you treat kids who come with serious disability and serious trauma, has not been fully addressed."
He said there are other issues he hopes the state continues to look at. Torrington school district officials did not respond to requests for comment.