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Wyalusing Academy doors closed
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Clinicare, the company that owns Wyalusing Academy, will officially relinquish its license to operate the residential care facility on Friday, Nov. 8.

The Prairie du Chien-based juvenile treatment facility for lower functioning 10-17 year-olds with behavioral and emotional concerns came under investigation after staff allegedly performed a series of restraints that seriously injured a child on June 24. Medical care was not sought for the child until more than 24 hours later, according to the investigative report of the incident.

That investigation led to the revocation of Wyalusing Academy’s facility license last month by the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF). The facility had “failed to ensure the health, safety and welfare of children in its care,” according to the revocation notice issued on Oct. 1 by DCF.

 Clinicare Corp. initially appealed the DCF decision to revoke their license to operate Wyalusing Academy. The residential treatment facility was allowed to stay open pending a decision in the appeal.

Now, as a result of the appeal process, Clinicare has agreed to relinquish the facility license and close the doors on the Prairie du Chien facility, which employs 144 people.

As of Tuesday, Oct. 29, there were 45 residents still residing at Wyalusing Academy. Administrative staff is assisting those individuals and their families with relocation efforts to other residential care facilities. The DCF said final closure of the operation is dependent on the relocation of current residents, but is expected to be no later than Nov. 22.

Clinicare notified the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Enhanced Rapid Response Program of the closure and layoffs.

Clinicare President Dave Fritsch has met with Prairie du Chien City Administrator Aaron Kramer to discuss how the city might help the newly unemployed.

As a result of that meeting and additional meetings Kramer has held with DWD representatives, Prairie du Chien Economic Development Corporation and Crawford County Economic Development, the City of Prairie du Chien will waive the usage fees and allow their conference room at City Hall to be used to host a series of meeting to address the situation.

“We don’t have a true unemployment office in the area,” Kramer noted, saying he hoped to mitigate the fact by making space available and working with DWD and other officials.

“There are not comparable jobs in the area, so lateral transition into a (similar) new job is unlikely,” Kramer said. “But, there are jobs in the area.”

Help finding those jobs and getting some training might be needed, according to Kramer. He noted that Prairie du Chien tended to have higher unemployment rates than the state as a whole.

Kramer plans to continue working with the local and county economic development organizations to try to gauge interest in the future use of the Wyalusing Academy property.

“There are aspects of the property that are attractive,” Kramer explained. “There are seventeen acres, some of which would be a good place for a small housing development.”

“I was pleased to hear that the New Frontier Academy, which Clinicare operates (at the same site), will remain open,” Kramer said. “The facility currently has 24 at-risk students enrolled, and provides a valuable educational service for the region, as well as employment for eight individuals.”