In Bronte Tuesday, more than 80 people learned they are now unemployed. On Monday, the state ordered that juvenile offenders housed at the Coke County Juvenile Detention Center be relocated to another facility. The Texas Youth Commission says a surprise inspection revealed multiple violations. But local and state officials are questioning the findings, and asking for more details. Joel Fox reports.
The 85 employees of the Coke County Juvenile Detention Center in Bronte reported to work, only to find out that they are out of work. The center is privately operated by the Florida-based GEO Group, under contract with the Texas Youth Commission. Close to 200 male juvenile offenders were housed at the center. But according to a Texas Youth Commission spokesperson, a surprise inspection nearly two weeks ago, and a surprise audit last week revealed that the facility was in an advance state of disrepair, that programming and rehabilitation efforts were not being pursued, and that the health and safety of the youth housed there was in jeopardy. State representative Drew Darby says the TYC's order came as a surprise to officials at the detention center, and to him. He says neither he nor officials at the detention center have been given details of the alleged violations.
Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo -- "I want to make sure that they can be verified and supported. And certainly I would have preferred to be able to deal with those allegations and to try to remedy them and to continue this facility here. But it looks like we're not going to be given that opportunity. And that distresses me greatly."
The economic impact of this move affects more than just the company and the employees.
Joel -- Bronte Independent School District stands to lose about $2 million because of this decision. In the past the state reimbursed Bronte ISD for the money spent hiring teachers to conduct classes here. However, this year they fear it's money they'll never see again.
Alan Richey/Bronte ISD Superintendent -- This hit us at a bad time in that it's early in the school year, and we have certified teachers under contract for a year. And so we have a responsibility to honor that contract until the end of this school year.
Juvenile offenders formerly housed here were relocated to a Texas Youth Commission facility in Mart, about 20 miles east of Waco.
We contacted the GEO Group headquarters in Boca Raton, Florida. So far our call has not been returned. However, in a news release, the GEO Group's CEO says the company will market the bed space at the Bronte facility to state and federal detention agencies throughout the country.