Low income parents sue over alleged child abuse at Army base

Right Step boot camp students participate in a obstacle course. Photo Courtesy of Right Step, Inc.

Right Step Inc., a private Milwaukee, Wisconsin voucher school for low-income students, is being sued by a group of parents for abusing and humiliating their children. According to the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, these accusations have also brought about an investigation by the FBI.

The complaint was filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court by Attorney Aaron DeKosky, who is representing seven students and three parents. Randy Martus, a co-founder of the school, and Rebecca Fitch, CEO of Right Step are two of the Defendants.

Right Step has their students participate in a boot camp every year at Fort McCoy, a US military training center. According to the lawsuit, the students were punched, kicked, slapped, forced to remain in a smoke-filled room until passing out, and put through humiliating acts that included lying in their own vomit or drinking from a cup filled with an instructor’s spit. The claim alleges that they were “verbally abused, forced to sleep on a floor on only bed springs, and forced to exercise while receiving limited food and water, instructors would flip children out of their beds and onto the floor at night, and that an instructor urinated on a student’s clothing.” The parents say they never would have enrolled their children in Right Step if they knew their children would be subjected to this treatment.

Photo Credit: Right Step
Photo Credit: Right Step

On Thursday, the Defendants’ attorney, Patrick Brennan, said that the charges of humiliation and abuse at the boot camp are not true. “It didn’t happen,” he said.

Right Step Inc. says the school is a lifeline to lost youth. Its mission is “to develop the minds, bodies, and spirits of the community’s most challenging youth, through discipline, and motivation toward positive outcomes.”

Right Step participates in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. All of its students qualified for taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers, which allowed the institution to receive over $1.4 million in public funds.

Because it is a private school that is funded by public money, the parents are also suing the state of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, claiming the voucher program uses taxpayer money to fund private schools, effectively turning a private institution into a public entity, according to The Daily Beast.

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