Philadelphia

‘I Can’t Breathe,’ More Details Revealed in Death of Teen at Philadelphia’s Wordsworth Academy

Officials with a private school for children with special needs in Philadelphia say they're ceasing operations at the school's residential treatment program after a 17-year-old student died earlier this month in an altercation with staff. 

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services (DHS) said they've ordered Wordsworth Academy's residential treatment program to close and revoked the academy's license to operate as a child residential facility "based on the failure to comply with the department's regulations and gross incompetence, negligence and misconduct. The program serves youths who have emotional, behavioral or academic issues. 

State officials were on site until all residents were moved. 

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In a report from DHS, students said three staff members held and punched the teen because he was acting aggressively. He was accused of stealing an ipod, the report indicated.

In the report, witnesses said they heard the teen get hit in the chest and say "I can take this, That's all you got? Give me more." Followed by, "Get off me. I can't breathe." Then silence.

A spokesperson for the academy said in a statement, "We are saddened by the death of our resident in our facility and are devastated by the allegations brought against us. We remain committed to our mission of providing education, behavioral health and child well fare services to children and youth experiencing emotional, behavior and academic challenges."

Those still living at the facility are able to remain until the state can find another place to transfer them.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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