Menta School Closures Stayed By Cook County Judge’s TRO

By Benjamin Cox on October 23, 2023 at 6:07am

A Springfield therapeutic school can remain open temporarily by order of a Cook County Judge.

The State Journal Register reports that Cook County Judge Celia Gamrath granted a temporary restraining order following a 90-minute hearing and permitted students attending Menta schools to remain there after the Illinois State Board of Education ordered the schools closed on Monday.

Parents wishing to withdraw their students from the school still can through the order. ISBE ordered the schools closed because Menta was not following proper protocols with the students home districts, there were concerns about restraint practices, and the schools had not received official permission to operate.

The schools in Centralia, LaSalle, and Springfield serving students with mental and emotional disabilities were to cease operations by the end of day yesterday. The ISBE order affected 125 students in 41 districts, including a small number under the watch of Jacksonville School District 117.

Superintendent Steve Ptacek confirmed on Monday afternoon that District 117 was working on where they could place the unstated amount of students.

According to the report, attorneys representing Menta, which has 24 facilities in the state in addition to schools in Arizona and Texas, contended they had met the ISBE criteria to open its facilities earlier this school year. Menta has said the board had approved academic calendars and had provided unique state-assigned codes for parents to find private facilities. Assistant Attorney General Alex Moe argued that the facilities still lacked written approval from the state and therefore should not be allowed to operate.

Another hearing has been scheduled for Friday, Oct. 27.