An important member of Congress has called for a Justice Department investigation into the death of a 15-year old boy at the Thayer Learning Center, a boot camp school in northwest Missouri. The founder of the school, in her first media interview, has told the Missourinet the investigation will show no wrongdoing.
Thayer founder Willa Bundy and husband John proudly show photographs of some of the 750 teenagers who have gone through the program in the last seven years as they agree to their first media interview The student who died in 2004 is the only fatality in school history.
Congressman George Miller, the House Education chairman, says a Government Accountability Office
report raises questions about abuse and lack of proper medical care. The GAO report says the boy had 30 scrapes and bruises on his body when he died. He says the committee "might very well be on solid ground asking for oversight from the Justice Department" on the death of student Roberto Reyes. The boy died about a week after going to Thayer. An autopsy said a spider bit might have been a contributing factor to the boy’s death. The GAO report suggests the boy was mistreated by school staff who did not realize he was ill and thought he was lazy and rebellious. The report says the boy had 30 cuts and bruises on his body by the time he died.
Bundy says she’s not an expert and cannot comment on the boy’s appearance after his death. She says the GAO relied on statements from websites that are the equivalent of a supermarket sensational tabloid. She says she is shocked by the lack of fact-finding in the GAO report and the investigator’s reliance on some statements that are completely inaccurate.
No criminal charges were filed after the boy’s death. The school and the boy’s parents settled a lawsuit the parents filed, reportedly for one million dollars
Bundy says Thayer has never been found to have abused any child including the boy’ who died. The school does not come under state regulation although Bundy says she would not object to regulation as long as it does not interfere with parental rights.
[ The entire interview with Willa Bundy (belowoo) is her first response to the GAO report, which was given to the House Education Committee on October 9, and to the committee chairman’s comnment that the Justice Department should investigate ].