Valleyhead, a school for girls, closes

Full story: Berkshire Eagle

After 40 years of serving young women with emotional issues, the Valleyhead school has closed.
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Brian

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#23
Mar 10, 2009
 

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I worked for Valleyhead. First of all "it's about time",. The school profited off of the financial explotation of abused children. For years their have been issues with valleyhead. issues that never made it to the paper. such as staff being hired with criminal histories and substance abuse convictions. Their have been documented accounts with Social Services, the list is quite substantial. As for laura Knoppler i think she had uncovered some issues that were serious and emotionally couldn't deal with them. she used the media as an outlet for attention. I was their during the time she was employed. She had threatened the executive director Christine Macbeth and was escorted off the property. I am very doubtful that her accusations were founded at all. Many Many People have been involved in the process of getting valleyheads enrollments reduced because of it's Corporate "for profit Child Neglecting ways" These schools like vallyhead,desisto,hillcrest,ko lburne and many many others are a dying breed. I was gratefull for the students i was able to help. Its was a rewarding job. Unfortunately for Valleyhead what goes around comes around. As for Mr Merrit he has to answer to god for what he has done. Money can only keep people quiet for so long. Vallyhead has paid off or Bribed Agencies and local Government. My stance and opinion on this issue is Places Like Valleyhead and all the rest should be Regulated by the government when it comes to caring for children with multidimensional problems. Department of Social Services should be regulated by the Federal Government as well and inspected and constantly monitored on a daily basis. For all of the former students just know that many of the staff reported issues on each of you. we did care about you. It was valleyhead and the system that let you down by keeping you there. Get a lawyers and sue Social Services And Vallyhead for Damages. Best of luck and Be Well.

M
BIG Brother

Parsippany, NJ

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#24
Mar 10, 2009
 

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Brian wrote:
I worked for Valleyhead. First of all "it's about time",. The school profited off of the financial explotation of abused children. For years their have been issues with valleyhead. issues that never made it to the paper. such as staff being hired with criminal histories and substance abuse convictions. Their have been documented accounts with Social Services, the list is quite substantial. As for laura Knoppler i think she had uncovered some issues that were serious and emotionally couldn't deal with them. she used the media as an outlet for attention. I was their during the time she was employed. She had threatened the executive director Christine Macbeth and was escorted off the property. I am very doubtful that her accusations were founded at all. Many Many People have been involved in the process of getting valleyheads enrollments reduced because of it's Corporate "for profit Child Neglecting ways" These schools like vallyhead,desisto,hillcrest,ko lburne and many many others are a dying breed. I was gratefull for the students i was able to help. Its was a rewarding job. Unfortunately for Valleyhead what goes around comes around. As for Mr Merrit he has to answer to god for what he has done. Money can only keep people quiet for so long. Vallyhead has paid off or Bribed Agencies and local Government. My stance and opinion on this issue is Places Like Valleyhead and all the rest should be Regulated by the government when it comes to caring for children with multidimensional problems. Department of Social Services should be regulated by the Federal Government as well and inspected and constantly monitored on a daily basis. For all of the former students just know that many of the staff reported issues on each of you. we did care about you. It was valleyhead and the system that let you down by keeping you there. Get a lawyers and sue Social Services And Vallyhead for Damages. Best of luck and Be Well.
M
Remember, He also owns the Bennington School. There are still kids there that can be hurt by his ways.
T from NH

Concord, NH

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#25
Mar 11, 2009
 

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I am one who says finally too. This place that was suposed to help you turn ur life around and give u an education and self esteem, only made everyone's life a living HELL. people who went there probly thought it was a way to get out of theyer already abusive situations. However it was more abusive and emotionally tortureing than the average person would ever in thier wildest nightmares be able to fathom. pubic hair in ur milk, watching rape across the room, when ur only told if u tell theyll never believe you, after all ur emotionally unstable, no one will listen to you. cleaning up the blood in a so called quite room of a resident that didnt make it through there so called restraint, as punishment for running away, only to be returned to your nightmare. being put on the quite bench for 24 hours as punishment for allowing a friend to borrow ur electric razor which she dicided to hang herself with in the bathroom. as I said be punished for your friends suicide, not go through grieving and learn that emotions are ok and to work through your feelings instead being taught stuff ur feelings. surrouned by self abusing children and teens, only to start taking on the same actions yourself due to not being taught to express your feelings about anything. having the opportunity for surgery taken away from you when your in need because they are more scared that you have ran away in the past and thinking your dumb enough to run from the hospital. trying to run away for help not fun and bringing a girl to the lenox police station to let them see that this so-called place allows the girls to self abuse so severly that they are walking around with glass and staples and anthing metal embedded in their skin all over thier body, yet we werent allowed to go to the hospital if we had a run risk. the use of medication not to help but to dope you up so much so that u cant put up a fight during restraints just about all the girls were on a cocktail of meds when i was there. never been medicated before i went there. but when i was i saw things heard things and felt things that werent there than had a complete nervouse break down and went to jones 2 only to be sent back and still needed to see Dr Pumphry.Since not being on meds i am fine and was told never needed them. so for a place that was suposed to take you out of a abusive situation and help the emotions of children and teens. Boy did we get to see alot. and for all you staff out there I hope you can live with all the shit you said to us did to us and allowed to happen to us right infront of ur eyes. Cause we have to live with it for the rest of our lives. the sounds of ur words when putting us down may have gone away but the emotional scaring will Never deminish. what i got from you is distrust, fear and dilusions of how things should be.Most girls who left there grew up to be sexually confused, depressed, distrustful, and fearful of themselves and the world around them. I am so thankful that the nightmare can not go on. Whoever helped put a stop to this Thank You.
Grace

AOL

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#26
Apr 15, 2009
 

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Brian wrote:
I worked for Valleyhead. First of all "it's about time",. The school profited off of the financial explotation of abused children. For years their have been issues with valleyhead. issues that never made it to the paper. such as staff being hired with criminal histories and substance abuse convictions. Their have been documented accounts with Social Services, the list is quite substantial. As for laura Knoppler i think she had uncovered some issues that were serious and emotionally couldn't deal with them. she used the media as an outlet for attention. I was their during the time she was employed. She had threatened the executive director Christine Macbeth and was escorted off the property. I am very doubtful that her accusations were founded at all. Many Many People have been involved in the process of getting valleyheads enrollments reduced because of it's Corporate "for profit Child Neglecting ways" These schools like vallyhead,desisto,hillcrest,ko lburne and many many others are a dying breed. I was gratefull for the students i was able to help. Its was a rewarding job. Unfortunately for Valleyhead what goes around comes around. As for Mr Merrit he has to answer to god for what he has done. Money can only keep people quiet for so long. Vallyhead has paid off or Bribed Agencies and local Government. My stance and opinion on this issue is Places Like Valleyhead and all the rest should be Regulated by the government when it comes to caring for children with multidimensional problems. Department of Social Services should be regulated by the Federal Government as well and inspected and constantly monitored on a daily basis. For all of the former students just know that many of the staff reported issues on each of you. we did care about you. It was valleyhead and the system that let you down by keeping you there. Get a lawyers and sue Social Services And Vallyhead for Damages. Best of luck and Be Well.
M
It is hard to know where to start when you read something as inaccurate, non-factual, and distorted as the preceeding comments. Valleyhead, although not perfect by any means, was a place where many girls were able to find safety, security, and love. They, with the help of many fine staff members, were able deal with very difficult issues from their past and have moved on to live happy and fulfilling lives. To you, writer of the previous comments, you speak as if you know the truth which you do not. You are saying things that are not even close to the truth. I spent many years working at Valleyhead, and yes, there were people who worked there who were not able to work well with the population we served and made mistakes, these people did not stay long. In my lengthy experince at Valleyhead, I worked with many people who worked from a place on honor and integrity and who made a tremendous differnce in the lives of many young woman. I remain in contact with many students who will tell you that if it had not been for Valleyhead, they would be dead or.... Valleyhead changed the lives of many people for the better, I am a witness. It is with great sadness that Valleyhead closes.
Brian

Schenectady, NY

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#27
Apr 15, 2009
 

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Dear Grace. I am not sure which cognitively distorted rose colored glasses you look out of? but i worked there for two years. Their financial records, investigations over the years, The kids there were financially exploited by Matthew Merrit Its called misappropriation of funds,Willful Denial, Over medication, There have been so many complaints by staff and parents that the FBI and a whole group of Private Investigators (some that worked there) Hint and it was all a collaborative effort with Special Investigators from dys,occs,dss(mutistate level). this has been a long time coming and was well worth it. Are any of you really surprised?? Money can only protect you for so long. I wish all the best to the survivors of valleyhead,desisto and many other crappy residential school across this country.

-M-
KJww

Sturgis, MI

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#28
Apr 20, 2009
 

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I'm one of the girls who passed through Valleyhead's walls and I never be the same. I was sent there because behaivor and learning problems. I didn't learn any except what it is like to have the head masters sons climb in your bed night after night.. There was no lock on door between the hallwalls of the dorm and faimly. We were the sons play ground. the older sister could be very mean when in charge. there was a coulple of good teachers but they can't make up for all the crap and pain that the Merrits put me through. KJ
hmm

Queensbury, NY

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#29
Apr 21, 2009
 
KJww wrote:
I'm one of the girls who passed through Valleyhead's walls and I never be the same. I was sent there because behaivor and learning problems. I didn't learn any except what it is like to have the head masters sons climb in your bed night after night.. There was no lock on door between the hallwalls of the dorm and faimly. We were the sons play ground. the older sister could be very mean when in charge. there was a coulple of good teachers but they can't make up for all the crap and pain that the Merrits put me through. KJ
May I ask if you are still around in Lenox? Or attending another school like this?
KJWW

Kalamazoo, MI

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#30
Apr 22, 2009
 

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hmm wrote:
<quoted text>
May I ask if you are still around in Lenox? Or attending another school like this?
No thank god I only spent two years in Valleyhead and I learned alot more then I should have. I couldn't go back to public schools because I was I so far behind my age group. I endup taking night classea and some college classes to get my diploma and I still don't if I got it, thats how mess up things got. I now live out in Michgian with my 2nd husband. I'm now 50,and have 1 daughter and 3 grandbabies tthat ive back east. If you really want to hear about the school give me a number that I can call you on.
Jodi

United States

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#31
Sep 11, 2009
 

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I can't believe it took 40 years for the FBI and DYS to finally shut these sickos down! I personally never saw any sexual abuse, but I don't doubt it existed at all. T from NH couldn't have said it any better as to a lot of the sh-- that went on there. It was the worst experience of my childhood and who knows how much different I might've been for the better had I not been there the two years I was there? The few good staff that were there were totally overridden and overpowered by the dozens of bad ones that made the kids feel like murderers and prisoners instead of victims of abuse in a place that was supposed to be a school filled with an extra dose of caring.

Just like T got punished for loaning her dryer to the girl that hung herself with it, I was punished for trying to kill myself by jumping out a second-story window to escape the verbal and emotional abuse I was getting there, as well as some physical threats. After I jumped, instead of being offered the support I needed, I was only made to feel sorry I didn’t succeed in killing myself, although I did not jump with any set goal intended. I simply panicked, I wanted out, and well, I went out, alright! They sure decided, however, that I only threw myself out the window for attention, failing to keep in mind that throwing yourself out a second-story window is a rather risky way to get attention.

I too, was turned into a walking pharmacy. I became very addicted to one of the drugs they used to control me with (Navane) and ended up with permanent side effects as well.(tardivedyskenesia)

I went into Valleyhead at 85 pounds, starved by one of my former foster mothers. I was picked on by Margaret, one of the meanest staffers there, for being so skinny. Part of the side effects to all the drugs they had me on was weight-gain. I climbed over 130 pounds, a lot for a 5-footer. Did Barbara, who was even meaner, think that by telling me I “had all that fat to keep me warm” really think she was helping me in any way?

I also believe the owners were stealing the girls’ money. Whenever my folks would leave me money it either disappeared or I was told it was much less than what they said they left me.

Most of the mean, cold-hearted control freaks that ran the place had worse emotional issues than the “students” had! It has been 25 years since I was there yet I still have nightmares about being stuck back there, dominated and ridiculed by Donna, her sister Margaret, and Barbara. I don’t think to this day they have any conscious or remorse for the things they said and did to what was mostly very fragile and abused children. May God somehow see to it that they are punished for the hell they inflicted upon some of us!
Jodi

United States

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#32
Sep 11, 2009
 

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Just thought I would also add my diary link for anyone who may be interested in reading about my hellish experience there in more detail: http://www.my-diary.org/read/...

To whomever is responsible for getting these people shut down - thank you!
TLA

Columbia, CT

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#33
Dec 19, 2009
 

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I was a client at Valley Head in the mid 80's. I am to this day dealing with the P.T.S.D. in which the Merritt family has created me. Mr. Merritt, Ellen, Charles Jr, and Edward Merritt. You are so damn lucky I didn't sue your asses when I got out of Valley Head because I am living in constant fear do to your abusive staffing crew that was not educated in the psychiatric field. You people are a mess. My opinion is that the Merritt family was running their so-called mental health program illegally. Now I'm going to go to my lawyer and press charges against the Merritt family for the abuse they put me through. Throwing me out in the snow naked. Staff members holding me in a police hold which has destroyed my collar bones and rotator cuffs. How dare you people mistreat me like you did. I am very very disappointed in the Merrit family for this and if I were them I'd be ashamed of myself.
TLA

Columbia, CT

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#34
Dec 19, 2009
 
Brian,
I was one of the girls that was abused by staff every which way but loose. I can't trust anyone in my home with me even if it's over night. I sleep with my light of for fear a male staff will molest me. If you ask me, I'm very glad that the FBI got involved and I hope to God that the owners of Valley Head got either fined or incarsarated. Those bastards don't deserve the time of day in my book.
KJWW

Coldwater, MI

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#35
Dec 19, 2009
 
I wish that the Merritt's will rot in HELL for what they done to so many girls. I stil remember the things that were done to me and the sad thing was they made us seem like lairs to our parents. To this day the damage is done. I don't trust people that much and when someone does something bad to me I exept it. I don't know how they live with themselves.
KJWW

Coldwater, MI

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#36
Dec 21, 2009
 

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I'll tell you about some more abuse i suffered at Valleyhead. The oldest daughter favorite summer past time was Quote teach us swim and dive. She would make you dive over and over screaming at you the whole time about what retards we were. She also loved to hold you under water till you would be choking and begging her not kill you. Too this day I have the bigest fear of anyone ducking me under or touching me in the water. I go into full blown panic mode. I also remember the time 3 of us complained at cookout that boys had grabed food our plates, our punishment was to sit us at table and force feed us until we were sick. The oldest daughter had hands around my neck while the oldest boy shoved the food in my face. Then was told you tell you die. I could go and on with the hateful things that were done to us. I fell off a horse and really hurt me back bad. I reported the fall, I was never taken to the doctor and my parents were told that I was faken it. Too this day I have back problems and on disabilty. The docter say that my problems probly started then. Thank you Valleyhead, for screwing me up more then I was.
TLA

Columbia, CT

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#37
Dec 22, 2009
 

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KJWW,
I know what you mean. I am traumatized to this day due to some of the crazy things some of the staff members did to me. I would never recommend my children to go to that school even if they paid me. The owner of Valleyhead, Matthew Merritt was a vicious, cold, spineless jerk. He had no right running that school with a bunch of convicts. That's wrong. It's also illegal. So what. Big deal. So they were rich. Whoopee doo. That's what saved that school for all these years is money and hush hush. Well guess what folks? The bad Karma finally caught up with them and bit them right in the ass. Thank God. There will no longer be a valleyhead. valleyhead girls is gone. Be happy about that. I know I am.
KJWW

Coldwater, MI

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#39
Dec 23, 2009
 
TLA, I happy now and live in a town in Mi. with my cat Charlie. Where in Waterbury do live? I lived in Waterbury for years! What years where you a Valleyhead? Where you there when they where in the old manison or the new house?
Former Student

New York, NY

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#40
Dec 23, 2009
 
There is a Valleyhead group on Facebook. Feel free to join it if you wish to try to find other people you may have known. It is also a support group, but does not replace individualized therapy. Just search for it in groups, since I do not know if you can post links here.
Jodi

Carmichael, CA

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#41
Dec 24, 2009
 
Former Student wrote:
There is a Valleyhead group on Facebook. Feel free to join it if you wish to try to find other people you may have known. It is also a support group, but does not replace individualized therapy. Just search for it in groups, since I do not know if you can post links here.
You can post links here. As you see I've got my diary link here. The Facebook Valleyhead link is: http://www.facebook.com/group.php...
Dorene

Massapequa, NY

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#42
Jan 2, 2010
 

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Brian wrote:
I worked for Valleyhead. First of all "it's about time",. The school profited off of the financial explotation of abused children. For years their have been issues with valleyhead. issues that never made it to the paper. such as staff being hired with criminal histories and substance abuse convictions. Their have been documented accounts with Social Services, the list is quite substantial. As for laura Knoppler i think she had uncovered some issues that were serious and emotionally couldn't deal with them. she used the media as an outlet for attention. I was their during the time she was employed. She had threatened the executive director Christine Macbeth and was escorted off the property. I am very doubtful that her accusations were founded at all. Many Many People have been involved in the process of getting valleyheads enrollments reduced because of it's Corporate "for profit Child Neglecting ways" These schools like vallyhead,desisto,hillcrest,ko lburne and many many others are a dying breed. I was gratefull for the students i was able to help. Its was a rewarding job. Unfortunately for Valleyhead what goes around comes around. As for Mr Merrit he has to answer to god for what he has done. Money can only keep people quiet for so long. Vallyhead has paid off or Bribed Agencies and local Government. My stance and opinion on this issue is Places Like Valleyhead and all the rest should be Regulated by the government when it comes to caring for children with multidimensional problems. Department of Social Services should be regulated by the Federal Government as well and inspected and constantly monitored on a daily basis. For all of the former students just know that many of the staff reported issues on each of you. we did care about you. It was valleyhead and the system that let you down by keeping you there. Get a lawyers and sue Social Services And Vallyhead for Damages. Best of luck and Be Well.
M
I think we know each other...let me know if we do.
Student Female

Jamaica Plain, MA

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#43
Jan 12, 2010
 

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I used to go to ValleyHead, I was there when I was 11.
The place was always up and down, I was in theadore house and things were always in chaos. The houses were in constant need of repair, always in poor condition. The bathrooms provided little to no privacy.
For kids safty they removed sharp objects and such but it was difficult even to shave because you had to BUY electric razors.
Girls were always paired with room mates, private rooms were never avalible and space was limited for everyone. The washing machines didn't work and if you weren't around when they finished washing someone was likely to steal your clothes.

The staffs methods of restraining girls was unethical, I was restrained at one point by a man I will leave unnamed.. I got called into the main building to be investigated because he had not only thrown my headfirst into the closet door, he'd dug his elbow directly into my arm so that I not only squirmed, I broke my arm.
I had bruises all along my body. Eventually the state heard about it and I was removed immediately. No one knew I was even going.

I'm personally glad Valleyhead was closed.. They hired people that were horrid.. Staff men brought in cigs and drinks for girls and snuck around with them, having sex.. It was caught at one point and they fired him immediately. The girl went into a fit and they restrained HER so violently infront of EVERYONE we only remembered her standing up, bleeding from the head. We never saw her after the ambulance picked her up.

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