SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Early 2000’s pop culture celebrity icon Paris Hilton took to Twitter Monday showing support for Missouri House bill 557.
The bill would require background checks for employees at boarding schools. Currently, under state law, reform schools in Missouri are not required to be licensed.
Rep. Rudy Veit (R-Wardsville) and Rep. Keri Ingle (D-Lee’s Summit) are the sponsors of the bill. They filed the legislation after former students reported abuse at the Circle of Hope’s Girls’ Ranch in Cedar County.
“We know that some of these children are not at some of these homes because they were perfect angels, we know they have issues, and we believe that spirituality of these programs allows a lot of them to see a different way of life,” Viet said.
During a Senate committee hearing Wednesday, former students begged lawmakers to get the legislation to the finish line.
“Please get some rules in place and get these kids out,” Emily Adams said.
Joseph Askins flew in from Pennsylvania to testify to Senators about his time in a Missouri boarding school.
“Imagine if one of your kids had an issue and it was a last resort, these places need to stand, they need to stay open for people of last resort, but they need to be run through a struct regimented routine,” Askins said. “I know animals that are treated better than the students at Agape.”
The legislation would notify the state these boarding schools are in existence and require the schools to do background checks.
Missouri is only one of two states that do not have oversight of religious boarding schools.