Former employee alleges abuse at Harmony Hill

A former employee at Harmony Hill School in Glocester told NBC 10 on Monday that investigations into abuse are thwarted by the school's administration.

Rhode Island's Department of Children, Youth and Families is currently investigating an incident NBC 10 News reported.

Annabelle Alexander told NBC 10 on Thursday that staff at the school broke the arm of her 13-year-old son while restraining him on June 1. The boy was placed at the school after he repeatedly ran away from group homes.

Alexander said the school never informed her of her son's injury and that a doctor from an emergency room at Hasbro Children's Hospital called her from the hospital to tell her that her son was hurt.

The former employee, who declined to identify himself, said he wasn't surprised someone was hurt.

"It's a constant pattern that's been happening for a number of years. I believe staff constantly overreacts to certain situations. Instead of taking a step back and really adjusting to what is going on, reacting violently and almost attacking them," he said.

When asked if proper training is provided for the staff, the former employee replied, "I don't believe there's up-to-date or proper training for any staff."

Harmony Hill provides specialized programming and services to those with social, emotional, behavioral and learning needs.

The former employee said he witnessed youth restrained in a violent way where he knew that they'd been hurt.

"This is something that is supposed to be a safety reason not something that I'm reacting to you because I want to hurt you. It's almost like being vindictive, let me get back at you because of something you've done," the former employee said.

According to DCYF, there have been 28 reported incidents of abuse at Harmony Hill in the last three years, but only one was substantiated.

"From the top, they're the ones that dictate how an investigation goes. They speak to the staff and they also speak to the youth. They kind of funnel and dictate how something is said and the language and paperwork," the former employee said.

The former employee said the staff would tell their employees how to fill out the paperwork.

"They would have their staff come on board, supervisors and administrators, and either write the paperwork or dictate what the language will say," he said.

Repeated calls to Harmony Hill school officials have not been returned.