House panel gets update on RI Training School following violent incidents

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The House Oversight Committee on Tuesday continued seeking answers on several violent incidents that occurred at the Rhode Island Training School earlier this year.

The committee, chaired by Democratic state Rep. Patricia Serpa, received an assessment from school leaders during the hearing.

“We’re meeting here this afternoon to find out what those recommendations are, who was involved, are they all in place?” Serpa said. “Are they working so far? And I’m sure the committee has questions of its own, I know.”

Governor Gina Raimondo ordered a review of the Rhode Island Training School after violent incidents at the facility earlier this year, including one in July that sent three staff members and two juveniles to the hospital.

Raimondo said she wants to find out what the leaders that were overseeing the school during these incidents are doing now to prevent them from happening.

DCYF officials reported to the committee that the individual who was acting as a superintendent, currently holds another position within the agency.

“We want to know what the staff enhancements are,” Serpa said. “I know that there are some new hires. But we want to know what kind of knowledge and experience they bring to the training school. Because juvenile justice is a kingdom into itself.”

An update from the Rhode Island Child Advocate on Child Fatalities was also on the agenda, but was moved to another date.

“She will be back to give us her report on the status of DCYF under the new administrator,” Serpa said.

DCYF officials told the committee that they are in the process of hiring a new executive director of the school that would be similar to the previous superintendent title.