Thayer Learning Center

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Information
Current status Closed
Checked March 12, 2013
Close.gif Closed 2009

Thayer Learning Center was a behavior modification facility located between Northwest College Drive and East 5th Street in estern part of the small city of Kidder, Missouri [1]

It used a boot camp styled model to alter the behavior of the detained teenagers.

Program Structure

Summer Boot Camp

The facility did offer a 4, 8 and 12 weeks summer boot camp, where they claimed that the summer is equal crime and drugs among teenagers.

According to their homepage the daily schedule was:

Time Activity Time Activity
0600 WAKE/FLAG DETAIL 1500 Physical Training
0615 Physical Training 1600 School Beautification/House Chores
0800 Breakfast 1800 Meal prep & Dinner
0830 Personal Enrich. Tapes/Summaries 1830 100 Greatest People Tapes/Quizzes
1000 Drill & Ceremony 2000 Personal Hygiene/Sick Call
1100 Recreational Reading 2030 Journal - Spiritual Reading
1230 Lunch 2130 LIGHTS OUT
1300 Personal Enrich. Videos/Summaries

Full year program

Beside the summer boot camp, they also ran a year round boarding school.

When enrolled in this program, they operated with a level program of 4 phases [2].

The first phase was the boot camp. There was no education as it can be seen with the summer boot camp. No visit by the parents were allowed during this phase.

The second phase was called resident Cadet. Now education became a part of the daily schedule.

The third phase was called Junior Staff. They were now allowed to harass a new cadet.

The forth and final phase was called homeward bound cadet. During this phase the detained teenager and the family should negociate the home contract which the teenager had to signed before he or she was allowed back home with the family.

Criticism

    According to sources to the Wikipedia entry the following items at the program is criticized:
  • Boys are forced to share razors instead of being given the ones purchased by parents.
  • Some children spend 30 days or more in solitary confinement.
  • An emergency room physician prescribed bedrest and antibiotics for a child with an ear infection. Back at Thayer Learning Center, the child was forced to exercise and sleep on the concrete floor. Thayer staff members told the parents that there was "a little bit of drainage" coming from the child's ear, when in fact, the child's ear was bleeding.
  • Two children were reportedly "restrained" with zip-ties around their ankles and wrists.
  • One child was attached to a file cabinet.
  • Male children have been stripped to their underwear, "hog-tied," and sprayed with a hose.
  • Children are forced to "re-write" letters to parents, until the letters contain nothing negative about the program.
  • Athlete's foot and other fungal infections are widespread and go untreated.
  • Willa Bundy reportedly denied medical care for a child who had the flu and was constantly vomiting.
  • According to former staff members, Willa Bundy diagnosed the vomiting as "a ploy to go home."
  • When asbestos was found in an old building on the Thayer compound, the Bundys refused to hire trained asbestos removal contractors.
  • Instead, students were forced to remove the hazardous removal and instructed to put the asbestos in a pile outside.
  • Thayer was fined by the Department of Natural Resources for the improper disposal.
  • A child reportedly arrived at Thayer in a nearly comatose condition. The teen transport personnel stated that they had administered prescription muscle relaxants to the child to prevent "problems" during transport. Willa Bundy was informed of the child's condition and denied requests for medical attention. She reportedly instructed staff members to put the child in bed until the medication wore off.
  • After several children collapsed from heat exhaustion and dehydration, the drill sergeants at Thayer began forcing children to drink large quantities of water.
  • During a one year period, group therapy occurred just once - at 10 PM and was led by Willa Bundy.
  • One child refused to exercise and was allegedly pulled around by the hair, arm and clothing by John Bundy.
  • All calls from children to parents are monitored and children are punished for saying anything against the program.
  • John Bundy allegedly forced female students to exercise outside in the snow without shoes.
  • One child was allegedly roped to a 4 wheel all terrain vehicle (ATV) and instructed to "keep up." When the child could not keep pace with the vehicle and fell to the ground, he was dragged behind it.
  • Willa and John Bundy are reportedly gone for extended periods of time and leave their 17 year old daughter in charge of the facility.
  • A male staff member supplied illegal drugs to at least one female student.
  • As punishment, two children were reportedly bound together with duct-tape and left that way overnight.
  • Before announced visits by the Department of Social Services, Willa Bundy allegedly takes "problem" students out for ice cream or to Wal-Mart.
  • In one building on the property, 26 female children share 1 bathroom and are given just 30 seconds to get ready for bed at night.
  • There are frequent outbreaks of head lice.
  • Part of the "fitness training " at Thayer reportedly involves students being forced to run while carrying 5-gallon buckets full of sand.
  • Students are awakened in the middle of the night and forced to exercise.
  • Children who are not physically fit are required to perform strenuous activities, including 6-mile runs.
  • Students have suffered serious injuries and were denied medical attention. Parents were not notified of their child's condition.
  • The facility reportedly has no certified teachers. Classes are "taught" via videotape.
  • Level 1 boot camp students sleep on bedrolls in a basement.
  • At present, 18 boys are in the basement which has just one bathroom.
  • The facility is reportedly overcrowded and housing some children in trailers, yet hoping to double enrollment for the summer boot camp program.

In the news

  • 15 year-old Roberto Reyes died at Thayer Learning Center on November 2004. In 2007 staff members at the facility acknowledged that they were a part of an investigation [3][4]
  • October 11 - 2007 a young man ran away from the facility. The police was about to search for him, when they discovered that he was 17 years of age and therefore could leave the facility on his own according to State laws [5]
  • January 7, 2008 a 15 year old and a 17 year old escaped the facility. Unlike the October 2007 escape the teenagers were hunted down by the authorities and taken into costody [6].
  • July 2008 two additional teenagers managed to escape the horror only to be caught and transferred to a youth detention centre where they will enjoy better conditions until the police investigation has been completed [7]
  • September 2009 it was reported that the facility was closed [8]
  • October 2009 the campus was sold. The new name is White Buffalo Academy. The program offered under the new management has nothing in common with the one offered under the management of the Bundys [9].

External links

Info pages

Survivor group

Message boards

References

  1. The facility on FlashEarth
  2. Contract and parent handbook from the facility
  3. 14 Year old Dies at Thayer Learning Center
  4. Missouri boot camp part of national investigation, By STEVE ROCK, The Kansas City Star, October 3 - 2007
  5. Youth escapes Thayer custody, by D'Anna Balliett, Citizen Observer, October 11 - 2007 - Reprint on International Survivor Action Committee
  6. Teens Escape Thayer Learning Center, StJoe Channel, January 7 2008
    Teens Escape Thayer / hunted down by K-9 unit, a thread on Fornits webforum
  7. UPDATE: Escapees apprehended, By D'Anna Balliett, Citizen-Observer Newspaper, July 30 2008
  8. Former Thayer Learning Center closes doors, By Andrew Bottrell, MyCameronnews.com, September 3, 2009
    Thayer Learning Center, closed (?), by ADMIN, Fight Institutional Child Abuse Network (FICAN),SEPTEMBER 4, 2009
    Former Thayer Learning Center closes doors, a thread on Fornits webforum
  9. Another step on Sacred Path, Cheyenne leader plans to renovate former Thayer Learning Center, by Ray Scherer, St. Joseph News-Press, October 5 2009