A school for so-called “troubled teens” which claimed to fix teenagers with behavioural problems was ordered to shut down by the state government, who cited the deaths of multiple students.
Taylor Goodridge, 17, died with sepsis, a blood infection caused by an abdomen infection in December.
At the time, she was a student at Diamond Ranch Academy, one of hundreds of controversial “troubled teen” schools across the United States.
A Sky News investigation earlier this year spoke to staff members who said Taylor was vomiting repeatedly in the days and weeks before she died, but was not taken seriously by certain employees.
Teenagers with behavioural problems would often first arrive at the school after being snatched from their beds by strangers and bundled in to the back of a van.
Now, Diamond Ranch Academy has closed down after the Utah State Licensing Board revoked its operating licence.
It recorded a finding of “severe physical neglect” against the school’s assistant medical director and noted the deaths of two additional students in previous years.
Taylor’s grieving father, Dean Goodridge, says the decision to close the school offers some solace.
“I hugged my kids when I found out,” he tells Sky News, “I told them that their sister did it. This is Taylor, she’s getting a place shut down that needs to be shut down. But I know that the fight isn’t over. I’m going to do as much as I can to use Taylor’s name and what she went through to make sure another child never goes through that again.”
An autopsy report found that Taylor was unwell for more than a week before she died and staff members noticed she had a distended stomach but despite asking to be taken to the hospital, she never was.
“To be absolutely clear, her death was entirely avoidable,” Utah state senator Mike McKell says, “she had an infection. It easily could have been treated. The fact that she couldn’t receive medical care, I think the action by the state not to renew that licence is entirely appropriate.”
Model and socialite Paris Hilton campaigned for the closure of Diamond Ranch Academy. She attended a different “troubled teen” facility in Utah and claims she suffered physical and sexual abuse. She has now become a vocal advocate for reform of the industry, lobbying state and national government.
Ms Hilton tweeted: “I am shaking, I am so excited to share that Diamond Ranch Academy is CLOSING!!!! The state held this facility accountable, and I am so happy they can no longer abuse kids.”
In a statement Diamond Ranch Academy said: “The decision to cease operations has been spurned by unfair treatment from the State of Utah which has consistently demonstrated its lack of concern for the safety, well-being, and treatment of youth in programs. Additionally, the Utah State Department of Health Services and CPS failed to provide due process to DRA and have made false allegations against the DRA’s assistant medical director and DRA which will be refuted in court.”