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Staff shake up at YSI

By Staff | Feb 10, 2013

Changes are being made at Elmore Academy.

Three long-time employees were informed Monday morning their services are no longer needed.

“They told us the company is heading in a different direction and we weren’t going with them in that direction,” says Dave Klabunde, who worked at the academy as an operations manager.

His wife, Karen, who was the facility’s administrator also was let go.

According to reliable sources, Scott Vaske, assistant administrator/director of admissions, also was released.

The Klabundes have been at Elmore Academy since it opened its doors in 1998.

The residential treatment facility is for males and females ages 13 to 19 who have chemical abuse and behavioral problems. It is operated by Youth Services International based in Sarasota, Fla.

In December, T.J. Mauer was hired as the company’s regional vice president for the Midwest and oversees Elmore Academy and a similar facility in Chamberlain, S.D.

Karen Klabunde says it was Mauer who told them they had lost their jobs.

“We had no indication this was going to happen,” she says.

“We’re going to take time to focus on our family and try to figure out what to do, We’d like to stay in the area, this is a great community to live in. We’ll just see what the future hold,” she adds.

The shakeup comes at a time when the operation of the academy has come under scrutiny.

Last February, Faribault and Martin County officials stopped sending juveniles to the facility because of concern for their safety.

Late last year, an official at Minnesota Department of Human Services said the agency’s Licensing Division was looking into three cases involving alleged infractions of standards. In addition, a former employee currently is facing two charges for an alleged assault of a 17-year-old student last June.

Jesse Williams, senior vice president of operations for YSI, would not comment on the reason why the employees were fired.

“I’m not going to be able to give you additional information or clarification. Our policy is we don’t discuss personnel matters,” he says. “These people have a right to their privacy and I’m going to respect that.”

Williams says YSI officials are excited about the academy’s future and changes that have been implemented.

“We continue to enhance the programs and services of the kids there. We’re moving forward in keeping with our stakeholders interests,” he says.

Meanwhile, an investigative memorandum issued by the Licensing Division on Feb. 5 says suspected maltreatment at Elmore Academy could not be determined.

The alleged physical abuse occurred in October of 2011 when a student was restrained by a staff member. The student reportedly sustained multiple bruises and became unconscious.

Investigation of the incident involving interviewing the student, staff member, three other students at the facility, nine other staff persons and a health care professional.

According to the report, a local law enforcement officer also visited the facility to look into reports of a student being abused.

“There was not a preponderance of the evidence that the alleged victim was restrained in such a way as to cause a physical injury other than by accidental means,” says the report.