The top Democrat on the Missouri House Children’s and Families Committee was featured Thursday night on NBC’s “Dateline”, for her legislation aimed at facilities like the troubled Circle of Hope Girls’ Ranch near Humansville.
State Rep. Keri Ingle, D-Lee’s Summit, spoke on-camera to “Dateline” correspondent Keith Morrison about Circle of Hope, the Agape Boarding School near Stockton and other facilities. She tells Missourinet that the issue with faith-based boarding schools goes well beyond the Circle of Hope.
“This appears to be a systemic issue. We’ve heard about this in not just one facility but facilities across the state,” Ingle says.
Ingle and State Rep. Rudy Veit, R-Wardsville, have filed bipartisan legislation aimed at regulating faith-based boarding schools. Representative Ingle says current state law doesn’t allow any regulation or oversight on residential care facilities for children, as long as the facilities declare themselves as religious.
“That meant that they had absolutely zero oversight at all. There were no regulations, no oversight. And that means no health and safety standards. No background checks, no criminal background checks,” says Ingle.
Click here to read Ingle’s House Bill 560. It’s a six-page bill.
“Dateline” also profiled the story of Colton Schrag, who traveled to Jefferson City last week to testify for Ingle’s bill. Schrag testified that he was physically abused and barely fed while living at the Agape ranch in southwest Missouri’s Stockton. Schrag told lawmakers that he was abused by four staff members at Agape.
Others submitted written testimony to the committee. Another former student at Agape says he was restrained twice there, between 2009 and 2011. The former student testifies he was attacked by a staff member and defended himself, saying he was then punched, kicked, elbowed and molested.
Another student testified that children were forced to eat their own vomit, at a Missouri facility.
Votes on the Ingle and Veit bills are expected this week in Jefferson City.
“I plan to vote the bills out of committee this week,” House Children’s and Families Committee Chairwoman Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold, tells Missourinet.
Click here to listen to Brian Hauswirth’s interview with State Rep. Keri Ingle, D-Lee’s Summit, which was recorded on February 11, 2021:
Copyright © 2021 · Missourinet