Statement from the Campaign - For Immediate Release
(For this release, "The Family Foundation School" is also "Allynwood Academy")
August 2, 2014
Family Foundation School TRUTH Campaign Supporters,
Well, we have come a long way, haven't we. Let's address the breaking news that Allynwood Academy, formerly The Family Foundation School, has announced on July 31, 2014 that effective August 8, 2014 they will be closing their doors and shutting down operations at their facility in Hancock, NY. Our campaign has verified and validated this information from several sources, so yes it is true.
Back in 2009, when this campaign was started, who would've thought we would have accomplished so much in exposing abuse and neglect at a school hidden in a small town in NY. In late 2009, when the core committee running The Family Foundation School TRUTH Campaign came together, I set a goal of having enough evidence exposed and enough pressure on the school, that by 2015 the Family Foundation School would cease to exist.
The school administration has admitted that our campaign efforts have caused them immense loss in enrollment, and we knew it was a matter of time. In 2009, the school enrollment peaked at over 250 students. By 2011, their enrollment was around 125 and by earlier this year less than 70 students were enrolled at the school. Bottom line: Parents Heeded the Warning.
Our initial tactic for the campaign was to attack, but our supporters told us to back off and give The Argiros family, who own and ran the school, a chance to change their tactics and practices at the school. When we backed off a little bit, the school executives called alumni "liars" and discredited any negative testimonials that we published and you, our supporters, fought back. As a Campaign, we quickly changed tactics again and essentially put the school and their cover up on blast. We sent letters to every household in Delaware County, NY. We gathered over eighty testimonials in a relatively short period of time. We got press attention. We got staff and parents to speak with us. And once we gathered enough evidence, we went to NYS officials who acknowledged there were serious concerns that they needed to complete a thorough investigation, all while the school administration was countering our exposė efforts by colluding with a NYS Education Department official to cover up abuse; he later retired less than a week after the investigation and his entire department within the education department was dismantled.
The administration at the school continued to fight the abuse allegations, and their lawyers tried to scare us, but we didn't stop. See the funny thing is that they could have sued us, but that would entail proving that what we were saying was not true...for the Family Foundation School, the risk of what would be put on public court record was too high. We requested all documents that the New York State Education Department had in regards to the school and found a documented 30 year history of abuse and neglect that the state knew about and did nothing, because the school was operating under a loophole in the law that allowed them to operate with basically no government oversight. Our goal was to expose the school and force them to get licensed for what they are, a drug/alcohol treatment facility; they refused because our sources told us the alcohol and substance abuse agency in New York would never license them as such...oh, and that agency had two previous investigations on the school.
Because of the dwindling enrollment numbers and the bad name the Family Foundation School has gained since 2009, they changed their name late last year, but were unable to hide from their past. Different name, yet same place, same people, same abusive history. The main stream of incoming students was coming from educational consultants, as our campaign has been contacted in the last year more than ever before by more parents thinking of sending their kids to the school; the consultants would tell the parents not to worry about what we are exposing, although any responsible parent would worry about such an alarming past.
Well, for now the Argiros family legacy is over. The abuse will end. The cover up will end. It is victory...victory for all those who have suffered for years of PTSD or nightmares and constant anxiety and fear, victory for all those who have passed away from overdosing to cope with the painful memories and experiences while at the school, victory for the student who committed suicide at the school in 2004 and his family, victory for all those youth in facilities like The Family Foundation School as those facilities have been watching the decline of the school because of the school's negligence against their students. This campaign has served as a warning to similar facilities.
There are many victories, although it's not over for us. The school executives will either open a new facility or work in another school like Family Foundation School, as they alluded to in their letter to 'colleagues'. For all those who have helped us, supported us, and shared with us, I offer my deepest gratitude and I hope this news will bring closure to those who are still suffering.
These results would have not come about had it not been for Jon Martin-Crawford and the team at The Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth who were the first to really start the exposė in 2008 when there was congressional testimony about the school.
For me, who essentially started this fight in 2002 when my cousin was imprisoned at The Family Foundation School, the greatest satisfaction is knowing Tony and Betty Argiros are still alive, sitting in Florida retired, and have been watching the abusive hell hole they created and profited off of decline all the way to closure...and because all of you who lived that abuse fought back...you accomplished this, and the Argiros Family Empire is shut down, temporarily at least. We do believe they will try to open a new place, and it is the new focus of the campaign to monitor the Argiros family to ensure we squash any plans to re-open The Family Foundation School in another area or capacity and to ensure they are not working in the industry ever again. This should serve as a friendly reminder to any youth facility that wants to employ those mentioned above or in testimonials on our site - staff at the Family Foundation School have either abused youth for years or witnessed physical, mental, and/or sexual abuse and did not notify authorities as required by law since they are all mandated reporters of child abuse...for these reasons, they should not be working ever again with youth especially in the unregulated private sector or in a capacity in which they are in direct control of youth, should your facility decide otherwise, we will be happy to refocus our campaign efforts accordingly.
Don't underestimate those who you may view as weak, they may come out stronger than you ever could've imagined.
As has been a saying since we started the campaign, "keep on keeping on"...and that is what we need to do, with your help of course. We are ending a chapter, but not ending the story. The troubled teen industry is much larger than one school.
With the most gratitude,
The Family Foundation School TRUTHCampaign
The Campaign will continue to update the site when needed and will always be available by email or on our Facebook page
If you have information on those mentioned above, please contact the campaign by emailing INFO [at] TheFamilyschooltruth.com
*This was changed slightly on September 12, 2014 after an intent to sue letter was sent to our campaign by an executive staff member.
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