Wed, Apr. 13, 2005
Security to Tighten at private Boys' School
the wake of the Friday night riot at Eagle Point Christian
Academy, academy officials are negotiating with Mississippi
Security Police to provide security.
Mississippi Security Police, a private Pascagoula security firm
that contracts with Harrison and Jackson counties to operate
juvenile detention centers, has been at the academy since late
Friday after several cadets instigated a riot allegedly to make
the private boarding school look bad for a state inspection.
"Our people are state-certified," said Tony Best, the company's
vice president. "They are taught to deal with juveniles
professionally, not physically. There is a difference."
Eagle Point Christian Academy school administrators Tuesday were
repairing the damage from Friday's riot and making arrangements
to send 20 to 30 cadets home. Academy owner John Fountain said
the seven cadets who orchestrated the riot would not be allowed
to return to the boys' private school.
"We want the safety of the kids to be the first and foremost, as
well as the safety of this community," said Fountain, who
described parents' comments as positive but worried.
Since the riot, nine cadets were sent to the Forrest County
Juvenile Detention Center for disorderly conduct or being
uncooperative. Seven cadets were taken to the hospital with
minor injuries and four cadets ran away. One cadet from
California had not been found as of Tuesday.
allegations of abuse were made during the riot and sheriff's
officials have not been asked by the state Department of Human
Services to interview cadets, George County Sheriff Garry
Best said his company and academy officials are assessing the
security and personnel needs.
contract could happen later this week.
not, Mississippi Security Police would remain at the academy
until another security firm is contracted, he said.
The academy's night staff includes eight to 10 employees to
watch over the 122 cadets ages 12 to 17.
"We can definitely learn from this," Fountain said. "I think it
shows the seriousness of the school. It takes mistakes to see
how to fix mistakes."
Fountain said in addition to security recommendations, he hopes
to eventually incorporate drug and alcohol counseling, and youth
ministry and community involvement in the academy's program.
The private school for delinquent boys, formerly known as the
Bethel Boys Home, has a history of allegations of abuse. The
school operates under a Chancery Court decree and is monitored.
Welford and Lucedale Mayor Dayton Whites said their main concern
is the community's safety.
think the community in general and we as city fathers have a
responsibility to ensure the citizens are safe," said Whites,
who received three calls from residents whom felt threatened by
the riot. "Something has to be done."