Public hearing raises concerns about future of Peavy Switch

By Holley Nees - bio | email

HUDSON, TX (KTRE) – There was a public hearing Tuesday night in Hudson on a controversial center.  Some people want to re-open Peavy Switch, located on County Road 2497 in Hudson as a treatment facility and charter school for troubled boys that are non-violent offenders.

However, the Hudson Independent School District Superintendent Mary Ann Whiteker worries it may not be in the best interest of her students.

From security issues, to the possibility of changing laws, Hudson residents voiced their concerns at the public hearing.  The former Peavy Switch facility would be used as a treatment center for about 25 qualifying 4th, 5th, and 6th grade boys. Hudson ISD is concerned about eventually having to provide for these children, however Peavy Switch is set to be a charter school, and that would cause the troubled kids to never integrate into the community.

The facility has been vacant for about four years, but that could change soon with a new state pilot program.

"We give them treatment real early, we can save the state-payers a ton of money, redeem lives, make profitable citizens out of them," said State Rep. Jim McReynolds (D-Lufkin.)

However, some have serious concerns.

"These children are going to need so many services provided for them that I don't think a rural Texas community has the services or resources to provide," explained Whiteker.

She says law currently states if these kids reside in the district, the school will have to provide services to them, so a charter school was discussed so the troubled children would never go to Hudson.

"We're not going to do this if it harms or affects Hudson ISD in anyway.  Of course, we don't want to do anything that would hurt the community," said CEO of The Burk Center Susan Rushing.  "What we want to do is have a charter school that allows us to braid the educational component with the treatment component."

"I gave my word and I intend to keep my word," said McReynolds.  "The Hudson Independent School System is not going to be responsible for these children."

However, still some raised concerns about security on the site.

"As long as those security issues are addressed probably most people are going to feel a lot better about it than they did before the meeting started," said Nancy Conley.

While promises have been made, some parents wanted to make sure those promises would be kept for years to come.

"We can craft this in a sure that we write into the charter or the policy what we want it to say," said McReynolds.  "That if any change takes place the charter is revoked and it simply shuts down and it's over."

There are still details to be hammered out before the facility would open. The target date is set for September. The facility would create 40 jobs with a payroll of $1.3 million.

©2009 KTRE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.