Escondido, CA

Lawsuit filed against state to fight shut down of San Pasqual Academy

Residents, staff and alumni of San Pasqual Academy have filed a lawsuit against San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency and the California Department of Social Services to fight the shut-down order of the Academy.

The suit was filed in Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Diego, North County Division. The lawsuit was announced on Tuesday, August 4.

Plaintiffs include Natasha Strain, a former resident and 2005 alumna of the school, Cecila Blea, a resident and 2006 alumna of the school,  Angela Nava, a current resident and 2021 valedictorian of the school, among others.

The academy, which has operated since 2001, provides small group cottages for foster youth, with 24- hour parental supervision, and an on-site high school licensed for up to 184 students. 

The academy also operates a work residency and self-sufficiency program. The land on which the academy sits belongs to the County of San Diego.

According to the lawsuit: “This is a challenge to the California Department of Social Services’ decision to ignore California law and refuse a license and funding for the operation of San Pasqual Academy in Escondido, California. San Pasqual Academy is a first-of-its-kind comprehensive residential educational program for youth in the foster care system that has the statistically best results for such youth across all measurable categories.”

The lawsuit continues, “Yet, because it is unique—a program with no equal—the California Department of Social Services decided to write it off, and directed San Diego County to find placements for nearly a hundred foster youth and young adults who call San Pasqual Academy their home. The County, in turn, is disinterested in standing up for its youth. Board of Supervisors Chairman Nathan Fletcher, despite promising the youth at the San Pasqual Academy graduation in 2019 that ‘I have your backs,’ decided to inform the San Diego Union Tribune before he informed the students themselves of California’s directive, in violation of the Foster Youth Bill of Rights. (See Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 16000.1(a)(1), 16001.9(a)(37)–(38).)”

The lawsuit alleges that shutting down the academy would “violate the youth’s constitutional rights.”

There have been persistent rumors that the majority of the Board of Supervisors—in particular Chairman Fletcher— wants to shut down the academy to use the campus to provide residences for aliens who have crossed the border and need a place to stay. The Times-Advocate’s conversations with several high and medium ranking public officials tends to lend credence to these reports.

To read the entire lawsuit, visit:

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