Family Foundation School / Allynwood Academy
CLOSED (August 2014)




Jon Goldman

Student 1995-199

I attended the Family School from 1995 until 1998.

I first would like to say that since the family school, I spent 7 years in the US Army, half of that time as a US Army Ranger. I deployed to Iraq 3 times and experienced the horrors of war first hand. You will see why this is relevant in a second.

Several months ago a fellow soldier and I were driving through upstate New York on our way to a training site. I began to tell him about the family school and to his disbelief that such a place actually existed, became preoccupied with wanting to go see it for himself. We drove into Hancock NY. I will say that over the next 30 minutes, what I experienced as we drove closer to the school was far more traumatic than anything I ever went through in the military. I began to shake, my stomach twisted into knots, and it literally felt like walls were closing in on me. As we drove down the road to the actual facility, I never in my life wanted to turn and run away from something so badly. I have been to war 3 times over and literally stared death in the face and it paled in comparison to what I felt seeing the family school 12 years later.

During my last deployment to Iraq, I attempted to contact the family school several times through their website and was completely ignored. I simply wanted to see what was going on at the school and none of my emails were returned.

Unlike other testimonials, I never personally experienced any physical abuse. But I did witness it. Below are some examples:

1.)    I watched a student get thrown across the floor by the largest staff member at the school. The student was then pushed down the stairs, had his jacket torn open and literally ran for his life. This staff member then chased him into the dorm and threw him onto his bed, lifting the mattress he was on to the ceiling, wedging the student between his own mattress and the ceiling. The student did nothing physical to provoke the attack.

2.)    A staff member who had recently spent time in prison, slammed a student into a wall while screaming, ?No one?s tougher than me mother fucker!? over and over again. I witnessed this same staff member shoving a student outside of classroom while yelling the same claim that no one was tougher than him while calling him ?mother fucker?. In both instances there was no physical provocation on the part of the students.

3.)    A student who attempted to walk away from a staff member was violently shoved by that staff member from behind.

4.)    I witnessed a student being unwrapped from a blanket and duct tape restraint who had been placed in a boiler room in the heat of the summer. His clothes were so soaked in sweat and urine it looked like he had been swimming.

5.)    A female staff member sitting on the lap of a male student.

I could go on and on about the emotional, mental and verbal abuse, but will only touch on certain key issues that I can remember:

1.)    A self proclaimed sex addict and compulsive masturbator forced me to have a one on one talk with him where he went into graphic detail about sexual acts he had performed with animals. This same individual would force students, male and female, to openly discuss the last time they masturbated at table topics in front of 30+ students and staff.

2.)    During a ?table topic?, a young Italian student was brought up in front of the family for calling another student a ?homo?. The staff member in charge attempted to make a point about insulting people?s lifestyles by calling the student a ?fucking wop? and a ?slimy little ginney?.

3.)    A doctor was brought in by Robin Ducey to speak to the school (Dr. Damicco, I don?t recall a first name). The basis of his discussion was that the methadone program was a government conspiracy and that one day he would disappear and that the government would be to blame. This individual had obviously lost his grip on reality yet he was invited back over and over to speak to the kids and we were encouraged to buy and read his book.

4.)    Tony Argiros would yell about how great his sex life was with his wife in front of the entire school.

5.)    I was told by a staff member who had spoken to my mother that she was a ?very troubled woman? and would ?die alone?.

6.)    A female student was standing in front of the entire school (3 families at the time about 100 people). This student had a significant acne problem. A staff member then forced another girl to ask her why her face looked like a ?pizza pie?. The staff member then went on to accuse the girl of constantly masturbating and that it was the cause of her acne.

7.)    A female student who was in front of the family began to cry and walked out onto the porch. Another female student was sitting by the door and was harshly reprimanded and made to sit in the corner because she did not physically restrain the girl.

8.)    When I was considered a ?senior member?, a student who was a known runaway risk was placed on a kitchen work sanction for which I was in charge of. This student was taken by a staff member for another work detail. He consequently ran away. The staff member he was with was never held accountable, rather, the full fury over the incident was brought on me. Paul Geer did not feel that I was sincere enough in my apology and forced me to sit in the corner for 2 days. He believed that I had significant secrets and dishonesty and that had something to do with me losing track of this student. My question now is, if the family school is for at-risk teens, then why are at risk teens being placed in charge of the accountability and safety of other at-risk teens? For the amount of money that parents pay to send their kids to the ffs, one would think that the supervision of their child would be placed in the hands of a trained professional, not another at risk teen. Since Paul refused to let me out of the corner until I came forward with the alleged secrets that I had, I began to create issues that weren'?t there. I was forced to question and doubt everything that I firmly believed that the family school had taught me. During a one on one with Paul he uncomfortably pushed the issue of my ?secret? it having to do with something sexual. For the weeks that followed this incident, when I would pass Paul Geer in the hallway or attempt to speak to him, he would say things like, ?Hey lair!? and laugh in my face.

LIVING CONDITIONS: At one point, I counted 18 boys living in a gutted trailer without proper heat during the winter. Stray cats had found their way in through the ventilation ducts and animal feces littered our trailer. Mold grew in the walls, ceiling and bathrooms. For months myself and 3 other students were made to prepare breakfast for the entire school in the kitchen for hours in the early morning with no adult supervision. None of us obviously had any medical training in the event that someone was injured.

From the beginning of my attendance at the ffs, I immediately began following the rules. I never ran away, never had to be restrained and was never defiant. I received straight A?s, went to AA meetings and thoroughly followed the ?program?. I believed that I was an alcoholic (I had only drank alcohol twice and smoked marijuana once in my life). I was a shining example of what a ?success story? of the family school was. Despite my a short adjustment period when I first came to the school and the incident listed above, my performance there was stellar. Yet after 2 ½ years, when I asked to go home, Robin Ducey told my mother that I was not ready. So I asked my father, who was a participant in AA and actually worked at the school for a short period of time, if I could live with him. When he asked Robin several days later, suddenly I was ready.  ?Really??? After nearly 3 years at the ffs and following the ?program? to the tee, all it took was 3 days for me to go from ?not ready? to ?ready?? Or did Robin lie to my mother about me and show preferential treatment to my father because he followed ?the program??

After leaving the family school sure I was ?sober? and remained that way for a year and a half, but I had no idea how to relate to other kids, have conversations with the opposite sex or just be a normal teenager. I felt as though I was walking around with a pink gorilla on my back and everyone could see it. I was robbed of the ability and experience of being a normal kid.

I am an extremely successful adult today and I attribute none of it to the family school. Rather, I believe that this facility simply masked the real issues by turning me into a robot who truly believed in a disease and that this ?boogey man? would surely lead to my death if I drank again. I was taught that I was addicted to virtually anything even though I had barely experienced any of those things and without the ?program? the only options were jail or death?neither of those options obviously ever became a reality.

To the parents: Please do your research before sending your kid here. I?ve seen how they manipulate the parents. The success rate is extremely low and your money is being used to build beautiful houses for ex social deviants on school grounds. The profits from tuition are most definitely not going to safe and adequate dormitories or healthy food for the kids. I?m not saying that the ffs can?t help kids, but be aware that, based on history, your child will most likely relapse even worse than before.

I would like to add one caveat to what I have said. Terry McCarthy and Susan Runge, in my experience, were some of the few who had the best of intentions. Some may not agree with me, but it's my opinion that these individuals actually cared for and tried to help a lot of young people.has come to light.