(3) Hennepin County officials became concerned when a child placed at Mesabi through Hennepin County's Social Services appeared in court in handcuffs. The issue raised concerns among county officials and judges over how Mesabi handles children placed in the facility. County officials also didn't know Mesabi, which is licensed by the Minnesota Department of Corrections, allows the use of restraints on social services children. The issue prompted a meeting and a letter outlining Hennepin County's expectations that social service placements will not be allowed to be in restraints in Hennepin County buildings.
(4) APM Reports requested Mesabi Academy contracts from St. Louis County. The county supplied contracts between 2003 through 2015.
(9) KidsPeace presented two business plans to the IRRRB when it was considering the proposal. The first, dated Oct. 6, 1997, noted "Recent changes in the $30 billion At Risk Youth Industry are reflections of harsher societal attitudes regarding youth." Source: IRRRB.
(11) Two members, Rep. Irv Anderson, DFL-International Falls, and Sen. Don Samuelson, DFL-Brainerd, voted against giving two loans to KidsPeace to renovate the school. After the vote, DFL Sen. Jerry Janezich, DFL-Chisholm, quipped that funding for no other projects would pass until the KidsPeace project was approved.
(12) The IRRRB vote authorized the board to give KidsPeace a $500,000 direct loan that would be paid back through the city of Buhl. Another $500,000 forgivable loan was issued and based on hiring goals. The funding, along with $130,000 from St. Louis County and money from the Minnesota Department of Trade and Economic Development, was used to do a $6 million renovation to convert the school into a correctional facility, licensed by the Minnesota Department of Corrections.
(13) Mesabi Academy had an annual lease of $5,000 with the city, did not pay $40,000 in property taxes in 2000 and pursued litigation to become tax exempt. At the time, the facility amounted to a quarter of Buhl's tax capacity. In 2002, Minnesota Tax Court Judge Raymond R. Krause agreed with KidsPeace and granted the company an exemption from property taxes. Records show that KidsPeace eventually entered into a separate lease agreement with the city of Buhl increasing the annual lease from $5,000 to $35,000. In 2001, a board member of Mesabi Academy's charter school raised concerns about the school's finances. The school briefly became private. In 2003, Mountain Iron-Buhl Public Schools took responsibility for providing education to the kids at Mesabi Academy.
(14) On Oct. 20, 2005, the IRRRB changed its loan terms with KidsPeace to forgive the final portion of the loan despite KidsPeace not meeting the hiring threshold. KidsPeace sought the loan forgiveness because they said the closing of a charter school linked to the school was a reason they didn't hit the hiring target.
(15) Contract between Mesabi Academy and Minnesota Department of Corrections. Source: Minnesota Department of Corrections.
(18) Jim Oberstar wrote letters to two powerful committee chairs in 2001 requesting federal funds for Mesabi Academy. He requested funds from the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary and the Subcommittee on VA, HUD and Independent Agencies. Source: James L. Oberstar Congressional Files, Minnesota Historical Society.
(19) Oberstar's legislative liaison, Kate Troy, wrote the memo on Jan. 27, 2003. She raised concerns about several issues surrounding Mesabi Academy. Source: James L. Oberstar Congressional Files, Minnesota Historical Society.
(1) Jacob Torblaa's diagnosis, his actions in the facility and his drug regimen were documented in monthly case plans, which were provided to APM Reports by his mother.
(2) The St. Louis County sheriff's office received the call Jan. 24, 2015, from Mesabi Academy. In the police report, APM Reports has blacked out the names of the employees named by Jacob Torblaa because they were not charged with a crime.
May 2, 2016: Private juvenile center conceals abuse inquiries
(2) On Dec. 9, 2015, Busche told KidsPeace executives in Pennsylvania that she decided to end the county's longstanding contract with Mesabi Academy. The move caught KidsPeace off guard and immediately put its Minnesota business in jeopardy. Within 30 minutes, KidsPeace lawyer Andrew Burke sent an email to Busche asking for an explanation.
(4) Hennepin County Corrections Unit Supervisor Janine Wischnack sent an email saying Mesabi Academy Executive Director Paul Jacobson called her to see if the county would be willing to take over the contract.
(5) "We appreciate your willingness to continue as our lead county," KidsPeace lawyer Andrew Burke wrote in an email to assistant county attorney Ben Stromberg. Busche said she met privately with county commissioners and decided to renew the contract. She said commissioners expressed concerns that they weren't informed of the decision. "I did not feel pressure to reverse my decision," Busche said in an interview. "It became really clear to me that this had gotten more complicated and more political but ultimately it was my decision to renew the host county contract."
(6) In a letter to a guardian of one of the boys, St. Louis County Child Protection notified guardians that a boy related to them "may have been sexually abused by having sexual contact with Mesabi Academy KidsPeace staff." The letter notes that the county did not determine maltreatment occurred. The boy's mother eventually appealed the determination.