by Ethan Stewart

The Devereux School in Goleta was rocked last week by news that
school officials intend to shut down two of the school’s more
popular residential programs, as well as its day
school — effectively cutting loose 87 developmentally disabled
children and terminating more than 200 jobs in the process.
According to Devereux administrators, recent county and state
policy changes hampered their ability to fund campus-based
facilities; the impending June 30 shutdown, school officials said,
comes as the direct result of these funding issues and long-term
staffing difficulties. The parents of several past and present
Devereux residents, however, believe the closures have more to do
with the nearly two years of ongoing controversy swirling around
the school.

Devereux came under fire last year for what parents called
questionable bookkeeping practices after several unexpected dorm
closures; a state-sanctioned audit of the school’s books will be
released later this year. And while a former Devereux night
supervisor faces trial for raping and impregnating a
developmentally disabled resident, the school was recently cited by
Santa Barbara County for various student safety violations.

Judy Corliss, whose daughter was bumped out of Devereux last
year in the dorm closures, commented via email: “Other vendors are
able to make their programs work with the governmental subsidy
issues, so why can’t Devereux?” Corliss added, “[Devereux] received
additional money from parents — lots of money — and an additional
million-dollar grant from the state. It makes no sense … The
problem is strictly managerial.”

Blame game and finger-pointing aside, the task of finding new
homes for the displaced children falls on agencies throughout
California already hamstrung by limited options. While Devereux
officials refused to speculate on the possibility of keeping their
doors open beyond June 30, one longtime employee expressed doubt
about the shutdown. “There’s no way they are going to be able to
move all these kids in the next eight weeks. It is not going to

The center will continue to serve 61 disabled adults in
participating programs on- and off-campus and a dozen foster
children currently involved in the school’s new Residential
Assessment Center, a program many feel will grow in coming months.
As for the various buildings and dormitories to be rendered empty
by the shutdown, it’s been widely speculated that because the
35-acre campus is designated for institutional use only, some or
all of the Devereux structures may eventually be absorbed by UCSB.
Devereux spokesperson Janice Johnson said, “The national center’s
directors have entertained and will continue to entertain ideas for
what to do with those properties.”


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