WOOSTER — The Village Network’s Boys’ Village School will be operated by LEAP, which provides special education services for public schools, when the school year ends.
The Village Network and Wooster City Schools made the joint announcement in September 2018 that the Wooster district would no longer be operating Boys’ Village School on the TVN campus after the close of the 2018-19 school year.
On April 8, TVN announced that beginning July 1, LEAP will take over educational services at the school from the Wooster district, which has been operating the school with its own employees and administrator for more than two decades, although some sources state much longer than that.
LEAP is described on its website as “reach(ing) across several special education spectrums to supply students with the most effective, innovative and evidence-based academic and psychoeducational services.”
According to information released by TVN on Monday, the decision to change the administration of the school was based on “the higher level of care required by the youth being admitted to the Wooster residential campus.”
It reiterated what TVN CEO Richard Graziano said in September 2018: “We have seen a different level of trauma in kids coming in (to the school),” whose problems have escalated from truancy and minor altercations in the past to drug use and other more serious issues recently.
“With many of the youth suffering from higher levels of trauma, they need more of a specialized academic environment,” the Monday release said.
At this time, 44 youth attend Boys’ Village School, said Brian Davis, TVN’s director of marketing and communications. “A number of students enrolled are Wooster City students.
“Youth attending our BV campus school are made up of current TVN residents, youth in foster homes that are enrolled in our day treatment program and Wooster City School students,” Davis said.
John Jestel, who retired last year, spent 20 years as an in-school-suspension instructor at Boys’ Village and was actually a student there in the 1970s.
“I spent my freshman, sophomore and junior year there,” said Jestel, who then graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas in Louisville, Ohio. Subsequently, he joined the Marine Corps.
“It was what I needed,” said Jestel of Boys’ Village School, commending its “good therapy” and “routine.”
“Boys’ Village was a place in time,” he said, elaborating that from the mid-1950s to 1964, residents of Boys’ Village attended either Smithville High School or Wooster High School.
When the former Boys’ Village School was opened in 1964, Wooster City Schools was given the contract to operate the school, which it has continued to run through this school year, according to Jestel.
In the release announcing the agreement with LEAP, Graziano expressed his gratitude to the Wooster district and its staff for many years of service to TVN youth.
“Moving forward, I am excited to see how LEAP’s innovative and specialized education instruction positively impacts our youth,” Graziano said.
According to TVN, LEAP already provides services to students in eight districts, including Crestview and Rittman.
“Our staff is passionate about helping kids who have highly specialized needs,” said George Linberger, director and president of LEAP, in the official release from TVN.
“We are excited to begin working hand-in-hand with The Village Network and helping their residential youth to reach their maximum potential academically, emotionally and socially,” Linberger said.
As previously determined, no Wooster City Schools employees working at Boys’ Village School will be laid off.
“We will be recommending Boys’ Village School staff positions during the April and May (board of education) meetings,” said Superintendent Michael Tefs on Wednesday.
“As was anticipated, the school district has experienced enough retirements, resignations and leaves of absence where all employees will have positions by June 1,” Tefs added.
As for staff members returning to work in the Wooster district, Tefs said on Wednesday, “We are so incredibly grateful for their contributions at the Boys’ Village School, but are excited to bring their energy and expertise into the halls of the Wooster City School District.”