AUSTIN - KIDS of El Paso County Inc. can remain open for now a district court judge ruled today.
When state District Court Judge *** denied the request by the state attorney general's office to temporarily shut down the drug rehabilitation program, the courtroom packed with parents from El Paso erupted into pandemonium. Some parents burst into tears and embraced each other while others rushed to telephones outside the courtroom to notify their relatives of the decision. The program can remain open until the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse determines whether the center can keep its license. No date has been set for an administrative hearing on that matter, said ***, of the commission. The decision came after 2 1/2 days of testimony. "I don't take lightly the state enforcing its obligation to license these places, but I don't believe the state has produced enough evidence to shut down the center immediately,” *** said. ***, attorney for KIDS, and ***, who represented the clients of the program and their parents, argued that the state was attempting to close the center before KIDS had an opportunity to appeal the revocation of its license. Santiesteban said that closing the program before the license hearing would deny KIDS due process. Also today, ***, whose son, ***, was sentenced in 1983 to 35 years in prison for murdering his mother, ***, testified that KIDS is the only program that has given *** hope for his drug-addicted children. Not only *** had a history of using drugs. *** also says he has battled his other children's drug problems for more than 20 years. ***, 23, the youngest of *** children, signed himself into the program as recently as two months ago, *** testified. *** began using drugs when he was 11 years old, his father said. The younger *** would break windows tear down doors and rip the furniture in his father's home when under the influence of drugs, according to testimony. He was recently arrested for possession of drugs and jailed for two weeks. He later was admitted into the Thomason Hospital psychiatric ward. Given a choice of going to the state mental hospital in Big Spring or KIDS of El Paso, the younger *** chose KIDS, his father said. "I am confident in *** getting off drugs and leading a productive life if he stays in the program. I am confident that if he comes out he will be back on drugs within 24 hours," ***said. Meanwhile, the national founder of KIDS Centers of America admitted Monday that KIDS of El Paso had abused some of its clients. Dr. *** testified that he had recommended that KIDS of El Paso relax its tough techniques. *** cited several incidents in which the El Paso program went beyond its guidelines in handling clients it *** said the problems have now been corrected. The center's license was revoked earlier this month by the Texas Commission of Alcohol and Drug Abuse. *** was one of 11 people to testify at a hearing to determine whether KIDS would remain open. *** said that he had concerns about:
- Clients being kept up all night because they wouldn’t comply with staff rules.
- A case of excessive confrontation involving a girl that was forced to smell her own feces.
- Making a diabetic patient go through the chain of command to get permission to drink a glass of orange juice.
- Clients being badgered for being homosexual.