Government-Funded Youth Program Allegedly Ridden with Corruption, Rape, Drug Abuse
HOUSTON, Texas--Allegations of corruption, drug use, abuse, and rape could soon put the North Texas Job Corps Center (NTJCC) in McKinney at the center of controversy. Several former employees at the center have come forward, telling Breitbart Texas about the alleged horrors they witnessed firsthand during their time at the government-funded training program for troubled youths.
Job Corps is a federally-funded program, administered by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), that gives at-risk individuals aged 16-24 technical training and academic training. NTJCC provides each of its students with a bi-monthly cash "allowance" and additionally provides housing for 600 students.
NTJCC offers technical training--subject matter ranges from carpentry to culinary arts--and helps students obtain high school diplomas and GEDs. Once a student has completed a technical or academic program, he or she receives an additional $1,000 and "job placement assistance" for up to nine months.
Job Corps sounds well-intended, but several former staff members allege that the Texas-based program is far from what it markets itself to be on its website.
"The entire place is infested with drugs, alcohol, assaults, and allegations of rape," Michael Jamison, the former Safety and Security Manager at NTJCC, told Breitbart Texas. "The bottom line is that it's not a safe environment for students or staff members."
Jamison was disturbed by what he witnessed at the training center; he believes that his efforts to expose NTJCC for its corrupt activity is what ultimately led to his firing in June 2014.
Prior to working at NTJCC Jamison was a police officer in Chicago, Illinois where he was an investigator on a narcotics task force. He moved to Texas and started working at NTJCC in 2012. "I couldn't have been working at NTJCC longer than three or four days when my supervisor--the Director of Social Development--told me that the center ran on an amnesty policy," Jamison told Breitbart Texas. "At NTJCC, 'amnesty' essentially means that if a student is caught with weapons or drugs they are allowed to stay at the center. Narcotics and other evidence were confiscated by center staff and that was the end of it."
He noted that although he was told to use "amnesty," Jobs Corps' website claims the program has a "Zero Tolerance against violence and drugs." According to the site, "Any student who violates this policy will be removed from the Job Corps program."
Jamison additionally claimed that his boss told him he was not allowed to call the cops unless he "got permission." He said, "The administration would talk the teachers out of calling the police. Many staff members told me they were afraid they would be fired if they spoke out to law enforcement."
Dr. Teresa Sanders, a former GED instructor at NTJCC, also told Breitbart Texas that she was instructed by staff not to call the police for various "very disturbing activity" that was allegedly occurring on the campus. She alleged, "Assaults, robberies, bullying, arson, vandalism, sexual assaults, and consensual sex between adult and minor students (statutory rape) are common occurrences on the NTJCC campus and are usually not reported to law enforcement. Through pressure and intimidation, students and staff are forbidden to notify the McKinney Police Department when a crime has been committed against them. The campus is dangerous and many students and staff are fearful and concerned for their safety."
Sanders continued, "I resigned from my position as GED instructor on May 16, 2014. I have expressed my concerns all the way to the Department of Labor Inspector General to no avail."
Both Sanders and Jamison assert that Job Corps is incentivized to let students' bad behavior slip through the cracks; the more students that attend and graduate from Job Corps, the more federal funding the program gets. At NTJCC, a contractor called Career Opportunities, Inc. (COI) runs and operates the campus. COI also receives funding based on how many students are enrolled at NTJCC.
"The primary motivation of COI and center administrators at NTJCC is to retain students for as long as possible," Sanders said. "COI receives compensation and incentives for keeping the number of students on center at a specific level known as On Board Strength (OBS) which is determined by the Department of Labor (DOL). OBS for NTJCC is approximately 500 students. Simply stated, the more students they have on center, the more money COI and administrators make."
"It took an act of God to terminate a student," Jamison added. "Some students got caught with drugs then graduated on the same day. Job Corps get all this money for helping a student get a high school diploma or a trade certificate."
Most students at Job Corps are required to take Tests of Adult Basic Education (TABE) progress checks. Dr. Sanders claimed that many students' TABE scores revealed math and reading levels as low as first or second grade. Students with such scores are regularly awarded high school diplomas, she alleged.
The allegations put forward by the whistleblowers, if true, are chilling given that Job Corps received a whopping $1.6 billion in funding from the federal government in 2013. It is easy to imagine that most U.S. taxpayers would be in shock to learn their hard-earned dollars are helping support a culture of abuse, drugs, and corruption.
Breitbart Texas made numerous attempts to reach NTJCC by phone; one employee at the center said she could not comment on the allegations made against NTJCC at this time.
Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate.