Special Education Facility Closing After 83 Years

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

"Many of ours are state wards. So, they have no parents, they have no families. They have developed relationships here, and moving from here, it's just another loss on top of many."

Manor President and CEO Fred Prasser

After more than 80 years of service, The Manor in Jonesville is closing its doors.

The Manor has been home to teachers like Michele Harmon since 1930. She's been on staff for 26 years and looked forward to every single day with her special education students.

"I never thought I'd leave here," Harmon said through tears. "I thought I'd be here forever. So, it's very strange. We're wrapping our brains around it."

Come March 1, Harmon will be out of a job, along with about 150 others, but their biggest concern are the 50 children who have been relying on The Manor's therapy and individualized education for years.

"Many of ours are state wards," Manor President and CEO Fred Prasser said. "So, they have no parents, they have no families. They have developed relationships here, and moving from here, it's just another loss on top of many."

The Department of Human Services said it's conducted special investigations of The Manor over the years. After minor and severe citations involving students and staff, DHS felt it was time to revoke The Manor's license, which makes its state contract null and void. The Manor doesn't deny the incidents, but feel they come with the territory of their facility that helps traumatized youth.

The Manor will be able to reapply for a license in a few years, but that's little consolation to the people losing their jobs right now.

"They're posting jobs every day, so they're trying so hard to help us move on, but none of us want to," Harmon said.

Some visit the South Central Michigan Works! mobile jobs center that's on site a few times week. Meanwhile DHS and The Manor have a tough job to tackle already: finding news homes for the children across the state.

"We see where they're going, and they have a placement, but it isn't the most appropriate one, and that is extremely disappointing," Prasser said.

The staff is trying to stay strong as they say their good-byes.

"All children grow up and leave home, no one stays forever," Harmon said. "So, that's the way we're going at it."

DHS said all the children should be in new facilities by March 1 or sooner.

Some of the adult programs will remain open at The Manor.


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