The Family Foundation School or Allynwood Academy as they renamed it to in order to be connected with bad press closed in 2014. Unfortunately too late for the boy who committed suicide while he was detained there. This is a testimony found on Yelp.
I was a student at the Family Foundation School from June of 1998 to April of 2000. In my time at the school I not only witnessed abuse of other students, but was the victim of much of it myself. The abuse I suffered includes; mental, emotional, and physical.
When I first arrived at the school, day one was the first incident. I had long hair and was told I would have to cut it all off. I refused and was promptly placed in a corner with no shoes to stare at a wall for two days. Then was threatened by Bill Musgrove to be physically restrained so that they could shave my head. After the eye opening revelation of their practices, I decided the fight wasn’t worth it and allowed them to shave my head. This was to be the beginning of a very long and difficult journey.
Throughout my stay, there were many times I was yelled at and humiliated and what is a table topic (when you stand up at a meal, and are either criticized or praised for your actions, behaviors and or thoughts.). I very rarely was praised despite excelling in school work, playing on a division winning soccer team, or even providing comic relief in a play. I mention these three things, because they were what I believe to be my greatest accomplishments of my time spent there. These things, just as similar ones, were often brushed to the side. The staff of the school preferred to focus on all my faults instead. I was often told how I felt and what I thought, and if I didn’t agree there were consequences. The main three were, but not limited to; Blackout- not permitted to talk to persons without the appropriate amount of time logged at the school ranging from three months to eighteen months, or the opposite sex. The corner- sitting facing a wall with no shoes and not permitted to look behind myself, or they would take my chair away and require me to stand. Work sanction- where I was taken out of classes to perform menial and often repetitive physical task with no positive outcome. There was many more, so many that at one point I had to have them all written down so that I didn’t forget them and get into more trouble for not following my sanctions.
My parents came to the school once for family day and I showed them the living conditions in the dorm (single wide trailer). It was a joke to all the students and I thought they might get a laugh also. There were mushrooms growing in the closets, and the school would not take care of the issue. There also were broken windows on some other trailers, my mother recalls.
I was taking out of classes at one point in my stay and made to work for four weeks before returning to classes. During my time out of school I performed many tasks, such as landscaping Tony Argiros’ home on the property. Finding stones the size of footballs and creating a pile and when that was completed I had to move the pile thirty feet then back again approximately three times. Moving a pile of dirt 150 yards to Bob Runges garden using only two five gallon buckets then when that was complete move the pile back up the hill. The worst thing in the four weeks, which still haunts me to this day, was when Mary Musgrove made me dig my own grave 6'x4'x6’ she was very specific on the size. I later in my life had a nervous breakdown and was found in my backyard sitting in a grave that I had dug.
There was also a time during my stay when I was put in isolation, which is when they locked me in a room the size of a common coat closet. I stayed in this room for about three days, only permitted to come out for bathroom breaks which were at the staff members’ convenience. I was feed cream of wheat and milk for breakfast and dry tuna on an english muffin with water for lunch and dinner. There was a small window on the door and if you were seen looking out of it they would cover it with paper. They denied you all human contact possible, until they could break your will to do theirs.
I recently had a conversation with my mother about the things that they told her and she was crying due to the mental abuse they inflicted upon her. All she wanted was to talk to me on the phone, because during my stay I was rarely allowed to talk to them. She says that Mary Musgrove, when she called, would tell her that she was the problem. Mary Musgrove would often degrade and ridicule my mother for only asking for updates on me. This persisted till my mother requested that I was moved to another family (a group of students with supervising staff members). After this change I seemed to not have so many problems, which led me to believe that I was nothing more than someone to be used as an example.
About one month before I turned eighteen, in April, the school informed my parents that if they would not tell me I had to stay till December they had to pick me up. They were kicking me out and if they didn’t come get me I would be put out at their first chance. The staff of my family Robin Ducey and Mike Ducey believed that I was going to leave, even though I never said any such thing. My goal was to finish school and receive my diploma and attend Marymount University with a soccer scholarship, but no one bothered to ask me what my plans were.
Upon leaving the Family Foundation School I fell into a deeper darker hole then I was in when I arrived. Before I only smoked a little pot on the weekends, and after I ended up hooked on crack, cocaine, alcohol, and pills. The school made me curios about the hard drugs and so I acted on those curiosities. But I did wake up from my drugged and drunken stupor and realized that, that was no way to live. So I cleaned myself up and began down a better path often remembering the pain I suffered at The Family Foundation School couldn’t be covered up. Despite all the horrible experiences I suffered I have grown to become an honest hard working husband and father or two. I do have a beer every now and then, because I’m not an addict or alcoholic. I’m just a guy who was confused and suffered from a lot of pain. Dealing with this pain will take till the end of my life, but my family’s worth every struggle.