Elmore Academy is closing its doors, according to a surprise announcement made Thursday morning by parent company Youth Services International (Y.S.I.).
The announcement, however, did not specify exactly when the academy would shut down for good.
"As of right now, there is no set date for when the building will be closed completely," says T. J. Mauer, Midwest regional vice president for Y.S.I and the director at the academy located in the former Elmore Public School building. "But, we are transitioning towards closing the academy down."
Y.S.I. has been operating Elmore Academy for the past 16 years, since 1998.
The residential treatment facility is for males and females ages 13 to 19 who have chemical abuse and behavioral problems.
The Blue Earth Area School District oversees the education and curriculum at Elmore Academy, but does not hire teaching staff or run the actual school.
Last year, former BEA superintendent Dale Brandsoy was hired to be the education administrator for the facility.
Current BEA superintendent Evan Gough says he learned of the academy's closing in an email from Mauer on Thursday morning.
"It was a quite a surprise," Gough says. "It will not really affect BEA Schools but it will be a blow to the community, I am sure."
The news also came as a shock to Elmore Academy employees, who also were told Thursday by Mauer that they would be laid off from their jobs in the very near future.
"Some may be transferred to other facilities," Mauer said. "All of the current students here will also be transitioned to other facilities."
Elmore mayor Bill Hurd also expressed shock when he was told the news on Thursday.
"It's a sad bit of news, an unfortunate situation," Hurd says. "We got blindsided by it."
Hurd says he is personally disappointed in the announcement and would really like to see the academy stay in Elmore.
"Obviously it is a huge part of our community's economy," he says. "And not just the academy, but also the Wildcat Cafe that is run by the Elmore Academy students. The cafe is a major local gathering place."
The exact closure date of the Wildcat Cafe, like that of the Elmore Academy itself, is yet to be determined, according to director of admissions and marketing at the academy, Chris Gack.
"Needless to say, this will affect many people and many communities," Gack said.
Elmore Academy and Y.S.I. have had several issues in the past which have brought it under scrutiny.
Three employees were terminated in February of 2013, and a year earlier Faribault and Martin County officials had stopped sending their juveniles to the facility because of concern for their safety.
Later in 2012, an official at the Minnesota Department of Human Services and Licensing was looking into three cases of alleged infractions of standards.
An alleged case of abuse of a student by an employee was also investigated at the academy in the past.
Just this past year two incidents involving students from Elmore Academy caused them to be charged with crimes in Faribault County District Court.
Mauer did not give any definitive reason as to the closure of the academy in Elmore.
He also would not confirm how many employees are currently at the facility and how many were being laid off.