Governor Kim Reynolds threw her support behind her appointee to head the Iowa Department of Human Services following complaints about the State Training School for Boys at Eldora.
An organization known as Disability Rights Iowa released a report criticizing the use of seclusion rooms and restraints on boys referred to the facility by juvenile courts, sometimes for serious crimes.
Reynolds says DHS Director Jerry Foxhoven is the right person to review the complaint.
“He's going to continue to work with the superintendent there and with all involved parties to make sure that we're doing the right thing,” Reynolds said. “Director Foxhoven, I have a lot of confidence in his ability to get that right.”
Foxhoven led an evaluation of similar complaints by Disability Rights Iowa at the state’s facility for delinquent girls at Toledo before Gov. Branstad ordered the school closed in 2014.
Disability Rights Iowa is calling for reform of the Eldora school, not its closure.
The report entitled ”Unlicensed and Unlawful” describes instances of boys being held in seclusion for more than 24 hours.
"No other facility in Iowa is allowed to do that, 24 hours is the max," said Disability Rights Iowa Attorney Nathan Kirstein.
The non-profit group objects that the Eldora facility is not licensed by the state, so it does not undergo regular review by the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals.
The Boys School does have oversight by the Iowa Department of Education.
The report also cites inadequate mental health services.
DHS says budgets play a role.
"The State Training School has goals for continuous quality improvement and more mental health resources that are similar to our partners, but the timelines may not align as we balance resources during tight budget times," said spokeswoman Amy McCoy in a statement.
Reynolds said after Foxhoven completes his review, they will “circle back and move forward.”
“This is a tough population that has committed some serious crimes,” Reynolds said. “So they're looking to how they can best manage that.”