After the boy’s death, Utah takes emergency action against a youth treatment center

The order indicates that staff knew the boy had suicidal thoughts in the weeks leading up to his death.

(Google Maps) Daniels Academy, a boarding and nursing facility in Heber City, seen in 2021. State licensing officials issued an emergency executive order against the facility on Thursday after one of its residents died by suspected suicide on Tuesday.

Editor’s noteThis article is about suicide. If you or people you know are at risk of harming yourself, call or text 988 to reach them the lifeline for suicide and crisis for 24-hour support.

State licensing authorities on Thursday issued an emergency order against a Heber City-based juvenile treatment center after one of its residents died from a suspected suicide.

The resident, whom Heber City police described as a male “juvenile,” died at a hospital Tuesday after falling from the third floor of a Daniels Academy apartment building near 300 West and 1000 South around 9 a.m., police spokesman Sgt. Josh Weishar said on Wednesday.

Utah Department of Health officials, according to their emergency order, suspect the boy died by suicide. The order indicates that Daniels Academy staff knew “in the weeks leading up to the death” that the boy was having suicidal thoughts and that “the proximity of the last contact with the licensee’s staff before the death” was a factor in issuing the emergency order.

The order provides the Academy condominium license with conditional status, valid for 30 days. During this time, the academy cannot accept new clients and must comply with all government inspections. Daniels Academy officials have five days to request an administrative hearing if they disagree with the order.

“This event raises questions about whether the licensee can protect other vulnerable customers who engage in similar behavior,” the order reads. “The [notice of emergency agency action] is enacted to protect the immediate health and safety of the remaining customers.”

When asked for comment on the boy’s death on Wednesday, a Daniels Academy representative said, “I have no comment,” and hung up when The Salt Lake Tribune asked her name.

Daniels Academy describes itself on its website as a boys’ boarding school for students who have academic or social problems “due to learning disabilities or differences” such as autism and attention or anxiety disorders.

“Daniel’s Academy provides a safe and therapeutic environment in which young men overcome past failures and learn to succeed through meaningful relationships and coaching,” their website states.

Aspiro Education, LLC has licensed three Daniels Academy facilities in Heber City: a cluster of residences accommodating up to 12 people, the 16-bed facility Daniels Home, and the 16-bed facility Heber Home.

Regulators cited the Daniels Home facility on June 28 after alleging a program administrator violated a rule prohibiting withholding or tampering with sources. According to the license inspection notes, “a program administrator put his finger to a customer’s mouth and said ‘Shh’ when the customer told him to.” [Office of Licensing] Current Event Investigator.” According to the inspection report, this employee no longer works at Daniels Academy.

The emergency measure issued on Thursday only affects the residential complex. This is the latest regulatory move by the state’s licensing board since the Disability Law Center of Utah released a report last month documenting lax oversight and serious safety concerns — including other deaths — at such care centers across the state.

Since the report was released on June 26, licensing officials have revoked licenses for at least three facilities: the Hidden Hollow Care Center, Diamond Ranch Academy and a southern Jordan-based child care agency called Nine’s Foster Agency, according to a new Health and Human Resources database.

Justin Scaccy

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