After abuse claims, Parson OKs Missouri boarding school law

Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Wednesday signed legislation for greater oversight of unlicensed residential care facilities for children following allegations of long-running abuse at some boarding schools. 

The new law requires directors of unlicensed facilities providing around-the-clock lodging and care for children to notify the Department of Social Services of their existence and provide details about their ownership and personnel. Staff, contractors and and volunteers with access to children now must undergo criminal background checks. 

A Missouri law dating to 1982 exempts religious residential care facilities from state licensure requirements. 

The Kansas City Star reported last year that several faith-based boarding schools relocated to Missouri after being investigated or shut down for abuse or neglect in other states. Missouri had no records of how many unlicensed boarding schools are in the state. 

In March, Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed more than 100 criminal charges against Boyd and Stephanie Householder, the owners and operators of the former Circle of Hope Girls Ranch in Cedar County. 

The charges include numerous counts of abuse and neglect of a child; Boyd Householder also faces charges of statutory rape and sodomy, among other things. 

The Householders have pleaded not guilty to the charges and are awaiting trial.