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October 24, 2016

Wordsworth Academy program to close after death of teen with special needs

Investigations Schools
Wordsworth Academy Google Maps/Street View

Wordsworth Academy in Wynnefield Heights.

A youth services program at a private Philadelphia academy serving children with special needs has ceased operations after an incident earlier this month resulted in the death of a 17-year-old male.

The Wordsworth Residential Treatment Program will shut its doors at the urging of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ Bureau of Human Service Licensing, the academy announced in a statement on its website.

Wordsworth has a long history in serving youth and families and we remain committed to our mission. We plan to use this time to improve our Residential Treatment program by enhancing operations, staff training, and our residential facility.

The Residential Treatment program currently serves 90 children ranging in age from 12-21, all of whom will be transitioned out to other facilities.

Police responded to the school on 3905 West Ford Road on Oct. 13 after receiving a call about a male who had become unresponsive after an altercation with staff. The incident was initiated by a prohibited electronic device and escalated after the youth, who had a mental health condition, attempted to barricade himself in his room.

School staff allegedly placed him in a headlock before he bumped his head and later died from his injuries.

The incident remains under investigation but authorities have indicated they believe it was an accident.

All other Wordsworth Academy programs will remain open. 

The school's mission, according to its website, is to "provide education, behavioral health and child welfare service to children and youth who are experiencing emotional, behavioral and academic challenges."