Opinion: These are the questions that must be answered about San Pasqual Academy and its future



By Don Wells, JIT Chief Empowerment Officer

The recent announcement about San Pasqual Academy closing in October has generated a passionate debate about what happens next for dozens of foster youth who remain at the residential school.

With the capacity to house nearly 200 hard-to place-youth, San Pasqual Academy has been both a consistent home and the last resort for many foster youth for two decades. So now a growing number of people, including current San Pasqual Academy youth and alumni and their passionate supporters, are looking for or demanding answers.

Must San Pasqual Academy close this year in accordance with state and federal rules or could it remain open in perpetuity?

What’s the plan for the remaining students who never found a welcoming place in foster care before coming to San Pasqual Academy?

And, of course, who’s to blame?

The struggle for answers to these questions has generated lots of heat and energy, but, as a wise man once said, “It’s not the answer that enlightens, but the question.” Resolving the pressing and core issues surrounding San Pasqual Academy requires asking fundamental questions to better serve both the students in it now and all the young people impacted by foster care.

I first began asking those questions because of Belen, who I met as her mentor 20 years ago when she was 8, just before she went into foster care for the third time. When Belen was 11, she suddenly turned to me while we watched a TV show at my home and asked a question that gave me a moment of lasting clarity. “Why are you still here?”…

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