KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A rare, bipartisan measure to crack down on abuse at religious boarding schools sailed through the Missouri legislature.
House Bill 560, sponsored by Democratic State Rep. Keri Ingle of Lee’s Summit and Republican State Rep. Rudy Veit of Wardsville, will give state agencies more authority to investigate claims of abuse at religious schools.
“We literally were only asking for the bare minimum,” said Amanda Householder, whose parents opened the now-closed Circle of Hope Ranch for girls. “I’m glad we have that. It makes me happy knowing that they just can’t go unnoticed.”
Householder and several other former students at the remote so-called ‘tough love’ Christian boarding schools testified before lawmakers on the rampant abuse at the schools.
A religious waiver, passed in Missouri in 1982, prevented state regulators from properly investigating abuse claims at the schools.
The measure passed with overwhelming support in both the House and Senate. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is expected to sign it into law soon.
Colton Schrag describes years of abuse and neglect at the Agape Boarding School for Boys in Cedar County.
“Hopefully, in the future, we can prevent more teenage boys and girls from having to go through the same kind of abuse we went through,” Schrag told FOX4.
Both Schrag and Householder both suspect religious boarding schools in Missouri will now move to another state with lax regulations.
“If they want to go to North Carolina, we’re going to go to North Carolina and start the process all over,” Schrag said.
Householder also said her activism on an issue intensely personal to her will continue.
“We’re not done just because this (Missouri bill) was passed,” Householder said. “We are very passionate about it because this is what we went through, this is what we grew up in, and we don’t want to see any other kid go through what we went through. So we’re not done here.”