Department proposes fines over attacks on school workers
ELDORA — Iowa’s state worker safety agency wants to fine the state Human Services Department more than $23,000, saying the department’s school for delinquent juveniles isn’t protecting its employees.
The Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration said in its Aug. 28 report that the staffers at the Iowa State Training School for Boys in Eldora “were unnecessarily exposed to violent attacks.” The Des Moines Register reported Friday that school residents assaulted staffers during at least three incidents last spring. In one, the worker had numerous teeth smashed out and suffered broken bones in his face.
The school’s home to about 100 boys whom courts have found to be delinquent because they committed crimes.
Matt Highland, spokesman for Human Services Department, said he couldn’t comment, because the two agencies are negotiating a settlement.
OSHA inspectors faulted the school for lacking protective equipment for staffers and not having sufficient plans on how to respond to violent outbursts or escapes. Court records say the teens involved were prosecuted and sentenced to jail.
The state workers union said the facility’s employees are routinely placed in danger.
“The staff at this school have performed miraculously under conditions no one else would want to work under,” Dan Homan told the paper earlier this week. He’s state president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
The school could use more employees, he said, but acknowledged it probably isn’t as short-staffed as Iowa’s adult prisons, which have reported numerous attacks on staffers.