STOCKTON, Mo. — The leaders of the Agape Boarding School announce that the institution will close its doors on Jan. 20.
The announcement comes after calls for Agape’s closure from state officials and former students and several criminal cases against former school staff.
Colton Schrag, a former student of the school says the news is part relief and part annoyance.
“A lot of the guys reached out to me, and say they are happy. They feel like they can finally shut that part of their past down.” Schrag said. “I was happy that the school is closing down. No kids would be subject to further abuse that I had to go through. I’m annoyed cause the way they chose to do it. The Government or the AG’s office wasn’t able to come in and shut it down.”
Amanda Householder, whose parents worked for Agape before opening the nearby, now-defunct Circle of Hope Girls Ranch has worked for years to expose what she says went on at both schools.
“There’s still more work to be done because like I said, I don’t take it as justice. I’m happy it’s closed down but it’s not the justice that is deserved, I don’t think we earned.” Householder said.
The school says a lack of financial resources is the reason they’re closing their doors.
Household says actions like hers, and other former students could have contributed to that.
“With us speaking out, we got to show the world what was really happening there and make it easier for parents to decide whether or not it was right or wrong to send their kids there.” Householder said.
However, Householder wishes she could celebrate with former students who have since died by suicide.
“I wish they were here to celebrate this with us because like I said, I don’t think it would have healed them 100%, but they would have at least felt heard.” Householder said.
For the past 30 years Agape Boarding School has provided over 6,000 boys with an opportunity to get their life back on track and toward a bright future. Agape has made the decision to stop providing services to the boys in its care effective January 20, 2023. Agape’s focus is on getting the boys who remain in the program safely transitioned back to their parents or to foster care, other group homes or residential programs. Agape’s decision to close is voluntary and solely due to the lack of financial resources to continue caring for the boys.Agape Boarding School press release
Agape is a religious boarding school near Stockton in Cedar County, Missouri. The school was marketed to assist “troubled” boys and housed up to 60 youths. It was in operation for over three decades.
Former Missouri Attorney General and current U.S. Senator Eric Schmitt called for the closing of the school in September of 2022, citing reports of abuse and the fact that employees had not undergone criminal background checks.
Court cases regarding employees of the school and a doctor who treated students have moved through the courts in recent weeks.
Three former counselors or staffers at the school have seen assault charges reduced to misdemeanor counts and have been sentenced to two years of parole and probation each. Charges against one staffer were dismissed and a fifth was to appear in court this week for a case management conference.
A doctor who treated boys from the school and who is accused of sexual misconduct involving students is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 17 in the Dade County Circuit Court where the case was moved on a change of venue.
He is charged with multiple counts, including sexual misconduct involving a child, statutory sodomy, stalking and child molestation.