ESCONDIDO – The San Diego County Board of Supervisors recently decided to sign an agreement with the state to keep a boarding school for foster children open through the end of the next school year and to restructure the academy to continue serving the community.
Back in March, the state had ordered the county to close San Pasqual Academy in Escondido by Oct. 1 after changes to state law sought to reduce the use of congregate care facilities in favor of home placement.
The new agreement with the state allows the academy to stay open until June 2022 if the county agrees to stop sending foster kids there.
The school, which has been a residential home for dependents of the Juvenile Court system for 20 years, is the first of its kind in the nation.
At their May 18 meeting, the board agreed to the state’s terms and approved a motion to “reimagine and restructure” the academy, directing staff to work with officials, students and alumni to ensure that San Pasqual Academy also serves young people with different needs, to look at ways to serve alumni and explore the possibility of transitional housing
Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said during the meeting that a restructure was necessary for San Pasqual Academy to stay open.
Supervisor Jim Desmond originally proposed requesting an extension for the academy but withdrew that after Fletcher put suggested the restructure.
The news that the school would be shutting its doors came from the California Department of Social Services in a letter back in March.
“Given the overall reduction in the county’s foster care population and the very limited number of appropriate referrals, it appears that continuation of the pilot is no longer viable or prudent,” the letter said.
Since the announcement, members of the community have been urging state and county officials to keep the academy open in order to keep servicing foster children.
In a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Friends of San Pasqual Academy claimed that the decision to shut down the school is a misnomer as the school “is not a group home and should not be categorized as such.”
“It has been granted an exception to that designation over the last 20 years to specifically address the anomaly for the standard classification as it does not fit the model or definition of group homes,” the letter said.
It is still unclear what the restructure of the academy will look like, however, the county only has one year left before the academy has to shut its doors indefinitely.