Peavy Switch Debate

By Holley Nees - bio | email

HUDSON, TX (KTRE) - Peavy Switch used to be a place adults could get help for drug abuse, but it closed down due to a lack of funding.   Now, the Burke Center may re-open their old facility to help younger people with a different set of problems.

Opponents of the project have begun a petition drive, supported by the Hudson Independent School District calling for lawmakers to deny funding for the project.

If Peavy Switch did open back up, they would be contracted out by the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission. The plan is to help 11 to 14-year-olds struggling with mental health issues. Nothing is definite and many East Texans want it to stay that way.

Through the windows of peavy switch, it's clear the place is dried up, but, the Burke Center is hoping to change that.

"If we begin to intervene and help those kids with their mental illnesses or mental illness and substance abuse problems, then we have a greater likelihood to prevent them from going on to having more serious problems," said Burke Center Director of Operations David Cozadd.

Some think serious problems will happen if it does reopen.

"Some of the misconceptions are that we're looking at serving violent juvenile offenders which we are in no way looking at violent offenders," Cozadd said.

However, some said even misdemeanor crimes are bad enough.

"Regardless whether or not they're in the Hudson School District, they're also in our community and those kids are 11 to 14 years old, from what I understand, and they've done something bad enough, they've been taken away from their parents," said Robbie Fletcher, a concerned parent.

The Burke Center said even if they do get the funding and they are contracted out, it could be nine months to a year before they even get the facility up and running.

The Hudson superintendent is worried the federal government may force her to mainstream some of the troubled kids into her school district.

"All it takes is one federal lawsuit filed based on Least Restrictive Environment and a court order that I begin providing those services," said Hudson ISD Superintendent Mary Whiteker.

However, State Rep. Jim Mcreynolds (D) said "If it is funded then it would have to be approved. I have given my word that I would not ensnare Hudson ISD to be responsible for the instruction or accountability of these students. We are waiting to see if the concept has been funded. It's a great idea since so many juveniles that are on probation have mental healh issues."

"I trust Representative McReynolds totally and I know he will do everything he can to protect our school district and community at a state level. It is not a state issue, it is a federal issue and federal trumps state," Whiteker said.

In the meantime, the Burke Center wants East Texans to know one thing - "That anybody would ever think that Burke Center would put any of the public or our communities at any kind of risk or create any kind of hardship with our local schools. We would never do that," Cozadd said.

The Hudson Superintendent wants it to be clear that she doesn't want to throw any child away, but she thinks the Federal and State Government need to come up with a system that addresses the needs of the troubled students without placing the responsibility on public education.

Mcreynolds said the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission has to get funding approval before they could even contract out the Burke Center.