Mount Bachelor Academy

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Mount Batchelor Academy was placed on 33051 North East Ochoco Highway, Prineville, Oregon 97754 and had rooms for 110 detainees [1] [2].

The average length of a stay was 14 to 16 months. The target group was youth between 14 and 18 years of age [3]


It was one of the first facilities Aspen Education opened back in 1987. It used the Lifestep Large Group Awareness Training process in the programming of the detainees.

The original founder is Linda Houghton, who together with a group of other former CEDU employees (Steve Houghton, Bill Hoffman, and Greg Andrick, and several others,) oversaw the beginning of the school, which is essentially a clone of the CEDU model, with a few differences, to be sure [4] [5]..

They advertised together with CEDU in the start. Lifestep is recognized to be a development of the seminar system used at CEDU.


The facility used a level system combined with individual bans and chores to achieve behavior modification. The 2007 version of the levels and seminar plans looked like this:

Phases Time in Program Focus Communication Skills Groups Lifestep® Program Academics Parental Involvement
Phase I Discovery First Two Months Peer Group Formation

Self-Exploration High Adventure/Physical Fitness

Service Learning
Introduction to Communication Skills Groups The Bridge Lifestep® (at end of Phase I) Outdoor, experiential education

Writing Assignments Receive credit for English, Wilderness/Physical Education, and Environmental Science
Update calls from wilderness instructors

Letters to/from student
Phase II & III Campus Curricula Month 2-16 Develop "tools" to deal with emotional issues in a healthy manner

Healing and strengthening of family relationships

Assume leadership roles

Goal Setting

Community service

Development of Life Plan

Communication Skills Groups twice per week

Peer Group Communication Skills Groups once per week

Four one-day Achievement Seminars
Forever Young Lifestep®

Promise Lifestep®

Venture Lifestep®

LaMancha Lifestep®

Veritas Lifestep®
Each student working at appropriate grade level earning one full credit each 6 month semester

Begin next step planning as age appropriate (i.e. SAT Prep class and test, college essay writing, completion of college essays)

Four one-day Academic Seminars

Vocational Planning Option
Parent Workshops Regional

Parent Support Groups

Update calls from mentor

Letters/phone calls to/from student

Written academic progress reports

Parent involvement in Veritas Lifestep®

College and/or boarding school visits as appropriate
Post-Graduation Up to an additional 6 months Academic work Preparing for the next school/college experience Communication Skills Groups at least once per week Student support in Lifesteps® Continue block style academics

Plan next step including college and/or boarding school visits as appropriate


The school was an accredited member of the Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools and the NAAS (Northwest Association of Accredited Schools). The school had "non-public school" status with the State Department of Education in Oregon and New Jersey. There were 12 detainees or less in each class [3]


The relatives of a former detainee have decided to create their own detention camp [6].

As many other private schools they are often mentioned in battles between parents and school district when the two parties can not agree on whether the school district has a better option than the private solution [7]. On the internet one of these case tells the story about persons seems to have several interests to serve in these cases [8].

In the news

In March 1998 four ex-employees and two parents alleged that high-risk students of a private academy were deprived of sleep, subjected to obscenity-laced tirades and forced to work in near-freezing temperatures overnight.[9]

On December 16 - 1998, 17 year old Brandon Hoffman died at the facility [10] [11].

In December 2007 a search was conducted for a group of teenagers and staff members, which had been lost on a wilderness trip. They were rescued without injuries [12]

A comment made in relationship with an article about the H.R. 5876, The Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2008 (Now H.R. 6358) a mother made the follow statement on [13]

Joyce Myers
I have a daughter in Mount Bachelor Academy in Oregon. I heard from her when she was able to sneak an unmonitored phone call out. She is kept up for days at a time for deprogramming sessions. She looks horrible. I made a suprise visit there and saw for myself zombie-like teens who were in terror of the staffers. She told me they were doped up by the staff. I was told to leave the property although I had traveled for 2 days to check on her. They use cultlike tactics here. These schools need to be shut down as I believe they are operating under false premises. I cannot sleep at night as I remember the sad, fearful looks of the kids as I drove away.I came away with sense that this is nothing more than a prison camp for kids. Even parents cannot talk freely to their kids. Her father put her here. I do not believe there will be a breakthrough in these places without media exposure. And this is America 2008.

In April 2009 the school became target for an investigation into their use of the LGAT program used on campus by the Oregon Department of Human Services[14]

On November 3, 2009, the Oregon Department of Human Services has temporarily closed Mount Bachelor Academy due to nine cases of substantiated child abuse [15]. It was rumored that Aspen had abandoned MBA as a result [16].

On November 9, 2009 the permanent closure was confirmed in the media [17]

On November 15, 2009 the Bend Bulletin described the long history of the facilty and it's association with the therapy advocated by the founders of Synanon,that originated at the Southern California school called CEDU [5]. Three educational consultants, including a former CEDU staff member, said the school’s founder, Mel Wasserman, drew from Synanon’s ideas when he started the school.

External links

Info pages

Survivor groups

Message boards


  1. The facility on Google Maps
  2. Datasheet at NATSAP
  3. 3,0 3,1 Fact Sheet, homepage of the program
  4. Mount Bachelor Academy's Own Version of It's History, a thread on Fornits webforum
  5. 5,0 5,1 Ever unconventional, long controversial, By Keith Chu, The Bend Bulletin, November 15, 2009
  6. Phase Two: Family Creates Safe Place to Overcome Addiction, by Melissa Wollering, NBC-15
  7. Forest Grove asks U.S. Supreme Court to settle special education case, by Corey Paul, special to The Oregonian, Monday September 15, 2008, 10:26 PM
  8. FINAL ORDER, J.J. & West Linn-Wilsonville S.D.
  10. Thread about deaths on myspace
  11. Crook County Sheriff Case # 982737
  12. Overdue boarding school group found safe, well, By Barney Lerten, KTVZ Central Oregon, December 13 - 2007.
  13. H.R. 5876, The Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2008, comments
  14. An Oregon School for Troubled Teens Is Under Scrutiny, by Maia Szalavitz, Time Magazine, April 17, 2009
  15. Mount Bachelor Academy Ordered to Temporarily Close, By Rachel Azevedo, KOHD news, November 3, 2009
  16. Leaked information from MBA Parent Listserv, a thread on Fornits webforum
  17. Mount Bachelor Academy in Prineville to close by Dec. 9, By Amy Hsuan, The Oregonian, November 9, 2009