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Wyalusing's closing leaving loose ends
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A series of meetings began Wednesday, Nov. 13 to help former Wyalusing Academy employees apply for unemployment benefits and search for new jobs.

“About a half dozen dates altogether were reserved at City Hall,” said Aaron Kramer, City Administrator for the City of Prairie du Chien.

Kramer has been working with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development to facilitate the transition for the 144 newly unemployed Wyalusing Academy staff.

The meetings offer help applying for unemployment benefits and teach job-hunting skills such as resume writing.

“I have been contacted by one LaCrosse company that is interested in using City Hall to hold a job fair,” Kramer noted.

The 14.14-acre riverside property including the Wyalusing Academy building has been put up for sale. Whether it is sold whole or in parts is unknown.

“All this is going on pretty quickly, so we don’t really know what that will mean right now,” said Dave Fritsch, the President of Clinicare Corporation, which owns and operated Wyalusing Academy. Anyone interested in the property can reach Fritsch at 414-545-9490 or by email at

The facility was built in 1872 as a Catholic girls boarding school. That school, St. Mary’s Academy, closed in 1968. It reopened a year later as Wyalusing Academy, a residential treatment facility for lower functioning juveniles with behavioral and emotional concerns.

The facility had it’s license revoked by the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families after an investigation stemming of a June 24 incident in which a teenage resident of Wyalusing Academy was seriously injured while being restrained by staff. The ensuing investigation of the incident by DCF uncovered a pattern of violations over the preceding four years. The led the department to suspend Wyalusing Academy’s license. Clinicare, owner of the residential treatment facility, initially appealed the license suspension. However, last month the Milwaukee-are corporation surrendered the licnse and proceed to close the facility,

The now former administrator of Wyalsuing Academy, Mary Beth Specht, will remain with Clinicare. She is returning to her former position as Educational Director for New Frontier Academy in Prairie du Chien. She will also serve as the Educational Director for Clinicare’s Crossroads Academy in Decorah, Iowa.