SALEM, W.Va. — The director of a private school under investigation by state authorities for possible abuse is expected to face contempt of court charges for violating a court order barring the children’s return to the facility, Harrison Prosecutor Joe Shaffer said Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, the West Virginia Department of Education has revoked Miracle Meadows’ Exemption (k) status, effectively shutting down the school, spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro confirmed.
In another development, the school’s board has voted to sue the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.
Regarding the ongoing criminal investigation, Shaffer said Gayle Clark, executive director of Miracle Meadows, could face contempt of court charges after authorities found eight students in or near her Ritchie County home.
Authorities obtained search warrants for the school near Sa-lem and Clark’s home after Harrison County Sheriff’s deputies received a tip that some of the children removed from the school last week had been returned, Shaffer said.
“Those two search warrants were executed at the same time, and while no children were found at the school, six female students were found exiting a church in Ritchie County” near Clark’s home, Shaffer said.
“They took those females into custody and executed the search warrant upon Gayle Clark’s home and found two male students,” Shaffer added.
The children were among 19 students removed from the school after an investigation last week uncovered cases of severe abuse, Shaffer said.
Some of the students were released to their parents, although the DHHR retained legal custody, Shaffer said.
The court order stipulated that the children not be returned to the school pending the outcome of a local civil case that has been filed, Shaffer said.
“These kids have been retaken physically by the DHHR, and we anticipate contempt of court charges to be filed against Gayle Clark,” he said.
The parents apparently returned the children to Clark’s custody, Shaffer said.
As for the parents, Shaffer said their fate will be addressed in the civil case…