The News Journal from Wilmington, Delaware on September 3, 1989 · Page 10
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The News Journal from Wilmington, Delaware · Page 10

Wilmington, Delaware
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 3, 1989
Page 10
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A10 SUNDAY NEWS JOURNAL SEPT. 3, 1989 Abuse: Allegations FROM PAGE A1 "There is the potential for an unfortunate event." Macris' son, Theodore, 18, was a student at the Academy of New Horizons in St. Johnsville, N.Y., where Swartz and Pauer were headmasters until April. In a telephone interview from his home, Theodore Macris said the school was "like a paramilitary camp. It was like a prison. We had no freedom." Students ,who acted up were tied in sleeping bags and hammocks and left in the woods overnight, he said. " Theodore Macris said faculty members punched and shoved him. One student was "slapped and banged against a wall. She ended up with a nosebleed," he said. A joint investigation by the New York State Department of Health and the state Commission of Quality Care led to an order prohibiting "psychological and physical abuse," including restraining children in hammocks, "slapping, punching and hitting," and "verbal abuse that subjects children to humiliation, scorn and contempt." "There were problems at the school, but Swartz and Pauer never fully cooperated with us," said Robert Maguire, an inspector with the New York State Health Department. "They weren't open about their practices. We didn't charge them because they left New York state when we were in the middle of the investigation." Swartz and Pauer said last week they were fired over a business disagreement with the New York school's owner. "The reason we are in Delaware is because of a business problem," Swartz said. "The guy screwed us." Swartz said it was "correct" to say he did not cooperate with the New York state investigator. "We did not hit it off," he said. "It became a conflict between his opinion and my opinion. He feels he is right. I feel I'm right." Swartz said he "took in a marginal student and when she got out of control we dealt with the situation creatively. We put her in a hammock until she got herself under control." He and Pauer "did what we thought was appropriate and consistent with what we believe in." Swartz said New York officials wanted him to sign a document saying he and his staff would no longer engage in these practices. "My non-cooperation was that they asked me to sign something I did not believe in," he said. James M. Russell of Rye, N.Y., the owner of the New York school, confirmed that he fired Swartz and Pauer. While there was a business dis ethadone: Heroin addicts' alternative FROM PAGE A1 "When it's successful, it's very successful, and that's what we have to remember. But it doesn't work for everyone." Nationally, methadone maintenance has a "success rate" the percentage of clients completing the program who remain drug-free for the next year of about 45 percent. Brandywine has no statistics on its former clients. But what health officials consider success remains open to question. Some clients get off heroin by taking their daily doses of methadone, hold down jobs and improve their lives, but then find themselves unable to attain their ultimate goal freedom from methadone. Supporters of the treatment say those cases are not failures and are probably as inevitable as they are inexplicable. - "I've been here since 1979, and there are some clients who were in treatment then who are still here now," said Janice D. Sneed, clinical director of the Brandy-wine program. "That was very ;hard for me to accept. Some of them lead very positive, very stable lives and they sincerely want to get off methadone, but they just can't do it. ... Methadone is probably going to be part of their lives forever." But even for those clients, their ;lives on methadone are very different from when they were heroin junkies. For Eileen and James, two Brandywine clients who agreed to 'Joe interviewed if they were identified only by pseudonyms, methadone is part of their daily routine. Both described it as a medicine, rather than a narcotic like her-'.oin. "Methadone doesn't feel like 'heroin, it doesn't get you high," .'said Eileen, who used heroin regularly from 1981 until she started coming to the clinic at the end of : 1987. "I just come to the clinic, get my medication and go on about my day. I look at it as a ;waynot to get sick, a way to be functional." agreement, Russell said, the firing came "when they refused to abide by my directions to cooperate with the investigation. I didn't want them to do anything that violated state law." A former counselor at the 1988 summer school, Danielle L. La Campagne of Santa Cruz, Calif., said she saw more than one child tied in a hammock. In a July 9, 1988, letter written from the school to a friend in Colorado, La Campagne said: "Some kids are left outside, to sleep in hammocks. Those kids' bodies are covered with huge mosquito bites. Their skin looks disgusting." The letter continues: "They are always humiliating kids in front of others. Always. Yesterday Neal talked about how fat someone was, and on how it directly related to her being out of control. He did it in front of all her peers. SO HARSH. This place is really twisted." La Campagne, 21, is doing graduate work in psychology at the University of Southern California at Santa Cruz. She is planning a career in special education. "The people who ran that school are dangerous," she said in a telephone interview last week. "Not for anything would I trust a child with them." But faculty members who quit the New York school after Swartz and Pauer were fired and followed them to Delaware say they remained loyal to the team because they believe in the work they are doing. Last week, nine of them were at the Bridgeville school on Rifle Range Road, laying bricks for a walkway to the new two-story school building on 12 rural acres. "When some of the kids first come to us, they don't have the control to stop themselves from hurting themselves and others," said Ben Hornsby, 28, of Nashville, Tenn. "I've sat on kids who are screaming their heads off, kids who are emotionally out of control. We care enough to stop them." "Every child has every opportunity in a series of steps to learn how to control himself," said Molly Beam, 26, a registered nurse from Winston-Salem, N.C. "These children have hurt all of us. They have spit on me. I have bite marks on me." Learning-disabled children "learn 180-degrees opposite to the way other kids learn," Swartz said. "They are unable to process information consistently and that leads to frustration that makes them emotionally difficult." The Cedars Academy program breaks down the learning process into a series of steps that the student must master before mov- James, 37, described methadone the same way. He became a heroin addict at age 15, has been on methadone for about six months now and is still getting used to the program. "It doesn't make you high, but it does keep you from going through withdrawal," he said. "But then, you still have to conquer your mind, because the same things that made you want to use in the first place are still there." The counseling that Brandywine requires of its methadone clients is a big help, Eileen and James said. "We won't allow you to just come in here and pick up your methadone and leave," said Sneed. "If that's what you want, then you're in the wrong place." Counseling is "the most important piece of this program," said Allshouse. "It has to go hand-in-hand with close medical supervision. . . . We're a lot tougher than some other clinics." The procedure clients follow is designed to keep them tightly controlled, Sneed said. It begins with careful medical tests and counseling to ensure that only people who have been addicted to heroin for a year or more are admitted. Less drastic treatment is usually sufficient for shorter-term addicts. "Screening is our key," said Sneed. "We try very, very hard not to prescribe methadone to anyone who isn't addicted." After beginning the program, clients must attend an orientation session to learn the clinic's rules, take part in individual and group counseling and undergo medical checks that include unannounced drug tests. The screenings test for a range of substances. Brandywine wants clients free of alcohol and all other drugs, not just heroin. For at least the first 90 days of treatment, clients must come to the clinic seven days a week and swallow their methadone in view of the nurse who dispenses it. Controls are tight because there is a street market for the drug. dog school '''' x AP Neal Swartz stands by his new school near Bridgeville and the controversial techniques that prompted a child abuse probe at his old school in New York. Owners hold psychology degrees Neal Swartz, 41, has an undergraduate degree in psychology from Hiram Scott School in Scottsbluff, Neb. He started working with special children when he was 19. Swartz developed the core concept for his program over the past eight years, first at a camp for learning-disabled children in Pennsylvania and later at the Academy of New Horizons in St. Johnsville, N.Y. Mary Margaret Pauer, 40, has a master's degree in psychology from the University of Delaware. She had worked with Swartz at his first camp in Pennsylvania and then at the New York school. Carolyn Lewis ing on to the next level. "We have no competition here," he said. "Each child learns to be successful at his own pace and in a total living environment." People who have not dealt directly with such children can't fully understand the problems faced by educators, Swartz said. "How do you get a teen-ager to button his shirt?" he asked. "How do you get him to hold his fork appropriately? To write a letter that makes sense? How do you do that?" Swartz said the school teaches children to deal with the problems they have and control their reactions to situations. "They need to learn to look somebody in the eye and deal with whatever life throws at them on a daily basis," he said Pauer noted that many parents of children at the New York Gail Gordon, a nurse at Brandywine uses to squirt methadone doses Into If 90 days pass with no problems and the client has shown improvement by attending meetings for addicts and finding a job, he or she may be allowed the privilege of taking home a weekend's worth of methadone on Friday. Eventually, with the client's consent, Brandywine tries to wean everyone off methadone. But continued counseling is still recommended, Sneed said. "Ideally, two years is the length of time we'd like to see a person remain in treatment," she said. Some clients and former clients complain about the clinic's policies, including the frequent urine tests, the $2 fee for eaclj dose of methadone and the expulsion of i 1 ?' -s - 1 . 1 owners school were angry when she and Swartz were fired. "They had a party and they hung Jim Russell in effigy," she said. "Those, parents believed in us, or they wouldn't be sending their kids to us in Delaware." Sixteen of the New York school's 33 students have followed Swartz and Pauer to Delaware. In addition to paying the tuition, many of the parents have invested in the new school. Typical of the supportive parents is Dr. Barbara U. Morgan, a physician from Charleston, W.Va. Morgan has two learning-disabled daughters. The first child has graduated from the New York school, where she "bloomed academically and is interacting." Morgan is sending the second child to Delaware because she and her husband are "pleased with the programs developed by Mr. Swartz and Ms. Pauer." The News JournalJIM GRAHAM Counseling, shows the hypodermic she a cup for recovering heroin addicts. some people from the program. But the $2 fee can be reduced for low-income clients, Sneed said. And individuals are dropped from the program only after a joint decision of several staff members who see no alternative, .said Allshouse. "If someone comes in, keeps their appointments and is really trying, we'll work with them as long as we possibly can," she said. "If you step back from the controversies surrounding methadone maintenance in general and just look at individual cases, what you see is some phenomenal successes," said Rose of the state drug-abuse division. "People literally get their lives turned around." J Opinion is divided on the techniques used by Neal Swartz and Mary Pauer at Cedars Academy, their Bridgeville school for learning disabled children: "My daughter, Caitlin (13), is very hard to manage. My sister once said she thinks the child is evil. I was glad when Neal and Mary took her. At one point they put a hood over her head and isolated her. I didn't care what they did because I'd had it with the child. When I took her to Cornell University hospital for a checkup, one doctor said Caitlin rang more child-abuse bells than they had heard in years. It was the doctors who filed the child abuse complaint. Now Caitlin is in a state residential mental institution." Sara M. Hedden, parent, Scarsdale, N.Y. "Neal Swartz has a violent temper. He shoved my son Philip (17) against the wall. There was physical and verbal abuse. Philip ran away a couple of times. It is an emotionally barren atmosphere, a negative environment. There is no therapy, no treatment by a psychologist. It is a form of behavior modification taken to Gestapo-like ends. They control your body and your mind. There is a difference between discipline and abuse, and Neal crossed that line." Lynn Padwe, parent, Larchmont, N.Y. "My wife and I are professional educators who realized our son, Duncan, needed special help. Under the leadership and mentorship (of Swartz and Pauer), Duncan developed a trust relationship that enabled him to curb any out-of-bounds impulses and to direct his energies in appropriate ways. Duncan has (now) been admitted to Dickinson College in Carlisle and will enter as a freshman in September." Robert A. Burnham, parent, New York, N.Y. "When I first started the program, I was a confused and out of control teen-ager. I had no pride in who I was, and I did not care about school or my behavior. The program made me realize my problems by putting them in front of me. There I could deal with them and overcome them. My self-esteem and behavior changed and my academic ability improved greatly. This program works if you work with it." Marc Lakin, student, Falls Church, Va. "Before I became their student I was failing in life. I was doing way below passing grades and had no self-control or dignity. My relationship with my parents was totally negative. Thank God right now I can deal with my problems in a positive way. I cannot even explain how much respect I have for Neal Swartz and Mary Pauer. I love them for helping me the way they did. Right now I am an airman in the United States Air Force." Craig A. Sossner, student, Andrews Air Force Base, Md. "A school like this should be carefully monitored. Some schools believe intimidation is a way to help these kids, but I don't support that. If a child is out of control, there are formal guidelines for restraining him. An adult can hold him down or put him in a room. But tying a child in a hammock can be very frightening. This school should have a mental health team on duty, to counsel both the staff and the child." Larry B. Silver, M.D., child psychiatrist, clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. His research is in the field of learning disabilities. "You have to have some sympathy for these educators. Learning-disabled children can be so frustrated, their behavior is distorted. The problems with certain individuals can be excruciatingly difficult. The measures taken have to be viewed on site and in context to be fully understood. However, you don't want to take the discipline so far that the treatment becomes worse than the disease. As a nation, we are for individual freedom. But it's a little tricky to deal with a kid whose behavior is outlandish, bizarre, and weird. This school may be accepting children nobody else will take. The educators may be excruciatingly dedicated. But altruism can sometimes lead to zeal." Peter D. Schindler, M.D., board certified childadoles-r cent psychiatrist, Fellow of the American Academy of ChildAdolescent Psychiatrists; clinical professor of psychiatry at Jefferson University Medical School, Pennsylvania. Carolyn Lewis diet: Treatment me By ANN STEWART 4 Staff reporter WILMINGTON The first time Eileen used heroin, she felt a rush of pleasure more intense than anything she had ever experienced. She was elated and calm at the same time. The dope dulled her emotions and let her forget the misery and despair that had taken over her life. She wanted to feel that way forever. She was a junkie for most of the next eight years, but she never felt that good again. When Eileen talks about drugs today, she talks about pain and loss, not about partying and fun. And it's hard for her even to remember that first rush back in 1981. "Heroin makes you numb to the world. The first time, it's like going on a vacation," she said. "And every time you use, you're always looking for that first high again, for that wonderful feeling to come back. . . . But I guess it's never to come again, no matter how long you use." For the past 16 months, Eileen has been off heroin and on. methadone. She goes to the methadone-maintenance clinic every day, pays $2 for her dose and, in the presence of a nurse, drinks down the medicine that she says has "lifted up my life." "Methadone has let me feel again," said Eileen, a 40-year-old with a sandy-brown ponytail and alert hazel eyes. "It gives you back those feelings the heroin takes away, and it lets your mind stay clear. It makes you human again, I guess." She spoke about her life on the condition that her real name not be published; her boss and some of her friends don't know about her addiction. Eileen says she never felt anything pain or joy while she was using. In fact, that's exactly why she started. Her husband had disappeared from her life, taking their only child with him. The loss -tof the feel ag am boy left her grief-stricken, and more than anything she wanted to dull her pain. To this day, she hasn't heard a word about her son. "I think I just gave up on life," she says now. "I know I didn't care about anything. ... I was with a bunch of people who were miserable all the time, and I was miserable, too. I'd see them using, and it seemed like when they used they weren't so miserable. So I started." It wasn't long before Eileen felt worse than ever. She soon became powerless over her daily need for heroin, which occupied every waking moment of every day. She needed more and more money to feed her mounting addiction, which cost $20 to $70 a day, but she was too strung out to hold a job. She lived by stealing, shoplifting cigarettes and other easy-to-sell items. The daily stealing caught up with Eileen only twice, sending her to prison and cold-turkey withdrawal both times. She was straight each time she left prison but was soon using heroin. Looking back, she has trouble explaining how she could so easily slide into the trap again and again. "The whole time you're in jail, you feel deprived of everything, and you promise yourself a treat when you get back out," she said. "And if you're a junkie, then heroin is the ultimate treat. You tell yourself you're just going to use one time, but then you use the next couple of days to keep that feeling going. . . . And then it's three days later, and you can't stop." She also became addicted again because the only people who seemed to accept her after prison were other addicts. But she doesn't like to make excuses. "I could make up a lot of different reasons why I started again, but I guess I just wanted to use," she said, shaking her head. "I wanted that feeling again."

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