News Room

Derrick et al. v. Glen Mills Schools et al.

Lawyers from Education Law Center, Juvenile Law Center, and Dechert LLP filed a class action lawsuit April 11, 2019, in Philadelphia on behalf of hundreds of youth who were held at Glen Mills Schools, a residential facility located in Delaware County. This site, the oldest reform school in the country, housed as many as 1,000 boys from all over the country – and the world – at one time.

The suit maintains that youth housed at Glen Mills suffered at the hands of Glen Mills leadership and staff. Instead of receiving treatment and services, as required by the Pennsylvania Juvenile Act, plaintiffs claim that they were subjected to extreme and sustained physical and psychological abuse and deprived of an education. The abuse had a particularly dire impact on Black youth – disproportionately sent to Glen Mills – as well as students with special education needs and disabilities, whose educational rights were ignored.

The defendants named are: Glen Mills Schools; Teresa D. Miller, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services in her individual capacity; Theodore Dallas, former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services in his individual capacity; Cathy Utz, Deputy Secretary for the Office of Children, Youth and Families in her individual capacity; Pedro A. Rivera, Secretary of Education of the Pennsylvania Department of Education in his official capacity; Pennsylvania Department of Education; Chester County Intermediate Unit; Randy Ireson, former Executive Director of Glen Mills Schools; Andre Walker; Robert Taylor; Sean Doe; Chris Doe 1; Chris Doe 2; and John Does 1-20. Named plaintiffs include youth and families from Philadelphia, Camden, N.J., Luzerne County, Pa., and Monroe County, Pa.

The suit asserts that officials at the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Chester County Intermediate Unit allowed Glen Mills’ education program to operate in the shadows without any oversight or monitoring to ensure the educational rights of students. Plaintiffs seek damages as well as other equitable relief for violations of their rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and state common law claims.

After an emergency removal order of all remaining children at the facility as well as the revocation of its licenses by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, the Glen Mills facility is currently empty; these actions followed groundbreaking investigative reporting by the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Lisa Gartner.

Read our April 2019 press release here.

Read our complaint here.

Read our comprehensive brief here, filed Aug. 30, 2019, opposing multiple motions to dismiss.

Read our press release, issued Dec. 20, 2019, on the court’s opinion and order allowing nearly all our claims to move forward.

In January 2023, the Chester County Intermediate Unit agreed to a $3 million settlement of education claims in the case. Read our press release.