Rocky Mountain Academy

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Rocky Mountain Academy (RMA) was a behavior modification facility official marketed as boarding school for at-risk teens near Bonner's Ferry, Idaho, from 1982 to 2005.


Rocky Mountain Academy was the second CEDU School founded by Mel Wasserman - an therapeutic program started in the 1960's based loosely on the book The Profit by Khalil Gibran. Mel Wasserman and the CEDU Family of Services are credited with starting this genre of boarding school in the U.S. (called emotional growth or therapeutic boarding schools). Rocky Mountain specialized in "emotional growth" and education for high school aged boys and girls with behavioral and learning issues (as opposed to the more severe psychiatric issues dealt with at other schools).

In the late 1990's all CEDU schools (including RMA) were sold to the Brown Schools. The Brown Schools filed for bankruptcy in 2005 and abruptly closed all the schools. Other CEDU schools in North Idaho have reopened, but RMA remains closed as of 2007.

The original CEDU school, CEDU High School, was in Running Springs, California. Over the years, several other schools and programs opened in California and Idaho. This included CEDU Middle School (Running Springs, CA), RMA, Boulder Creek Academy (Bonners Ferry, ID), Northwest Academy (Bonners Ferry, ID), Ascent Wilderness Program (Bonners Ferry, ID) and Milestones transition program.

Program structure

The emotional growth program at RMA followed the same design as CEDU High School - detainees progressed through a series of emotional/therapeutic workshops called "Propheets", designed to tackle various emotional issues (such as truth, friendship and childhood). The educational program in effect at Rocky Mountain Academy took 30 months, and there was a graduation every quarter. The detainees who enrolled near the same time were in a "peer group", and the peer groups were numbered.

Some of the buildings on campus were called Emerson, Walden, Camelot, Murkwood, the house, the old lodge, Denali, field house, and la Mancha.

The rules and consequences has served as a rolemodel for later facilities. Among the rules was limited right to visitation by the parents (one visit per month) and never unannounced. The mail from a the detainees was read by CEDU employees, their weekly phone calls to their parents were screened by school officials [1].

Former 'Celebrity' students

Some of the former students in the CEDU programs was children of Barbara Walters, Joe Francis and Roseanne Barr [2] and Paris Hilton [3].

News, articles

On July 15, 1994, a boy from Texas named Jon Avila committed suicide in one of the dormitories of lower Camelot, in a room overlooking a pond. The late Mr. Avila hung himself from the sprinkler pipe with a belt [4].7

In 1997 there was a riot by the detainees of as sister school in North Idaho, Northwest Academy. Five persons were injured [5].

In 2002 the facility was forced to pay $300.000 in settlement in a lawsuit to former client due to abuse [6].


It closed in early 2005 due to financial problems [7] [8].


  • 1) CEDU Closing: George Locker's Criticisms
  • 2) CEDU Sued for Abuse and Fraud (International Survivors Action Committee)
  • 3) Father endures 2-month search for missing son (International Survivors Action Committee)
  • 4) Spokesman-Review excerpt
  • 5) Suits allege suits at two schools (Community Alliance for the Fair and Ethical Treatment of Youth)
  • 6) Rocky Mountain Academy to close; Inability to find leadership blamed (The Spokesman Review)
  • 8) CEDU Closing: Reaction from Running Springs Area

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