State orders transition of students out of La Salle school

State board instructs Menta to cease operations at unauthorized facilities

Menta School is located at the Grove Center in La Salle.

The Illinois State Board of Education has notified a La Salle school to cease operations for students from public school districts as of Oct. 20.

The board ordered the transition of students out of three facilities owned by Menta that were operating without state approval, which included the Menta school operating out of the Grove Center, 1055 Sixth St., according to a Monday news release from the ISBE.

The Menta facilities were operating as therapeutic day schools for students with significant social-emotional disabilities, ISBE said in the release.

The Menta facilities had applied to ISBE for approval in the spring. None of the three facilities received approval, and yet they opened and started enrolling and serving students.

Menta administrators did not return a call Monday to Shaw Local News Network.

The ISBE said it discovered the unauthorized facilities after receiving a complaint and began investigating immediately. The agency made unannounced visits to the facilities last week to confirm the reports of them operating without state approval. It also found troubling restraint and time-out practices at the Springfield and Centralia locations.

Further, the ISBE said it observed during its unannounced visits that staff at the Menta Springfield and Menta La Salle facilities did not match the information submitted in their applications.

As a result of these violations and safety concerns, the ISBE has denied the facilities’ applications for approval.

“We are committed to protecting the safety, well-being and educational rights of every student impacted by this company’s malfeasance,” State Superintendent of Education Tony Sanders said in the release. “It is egregious and unprecedented that the Menta Group would misrepresent its approval status to school districts and families and would put students’ safety and well-being at risk by operating unauthorized facilities.

“ISBE will do everything in our power to provide support to the school districts and families as they locate alternative placements for their students.”

In addition to operating without the required state approval, the facilities did not have the required contractual agreements with the students’ home school districts and did not at the time of enrollment have the required rates set by the Illinois Purchased Care Review Board, the ISBE said.

Menta enrolled 125 students from 41 school districts in new facilities in Springfield, Centralia and La Salle without having received the required state approval. La Salle’s school has 33 pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade students, according to Menta’s website.