An investigation that began in earnest in August of 2015 when Advancing Youth's Acadeny was raided by the Roswell Police Department, finally came to a head last Friday as a series of indictments were filed against the founder and owner as well as five other staff members. The charges include cruelty to children and battery.
Rommys Beltran, PhD, started Advancing Youth Academy in 2010 as a military style semi-boarding school for troubled youth. The school was initially licensed and accredited, but that accreditation was lost in September of 2015. Despite that, the business continued to operate leaving parents to deal with the mess of trying to get their children back into public schools after leaving the academy.
One parent, Rhonda Repasz spoke with WSB-TV 2 in 2015 shortly after the school was raided by police. “It was very deceitful and it was hurtful and they knew it and intentionally did it,” she said, concerning allegations coming out that the school intentionally misled parents about their accreditation. “What bothers me the most is there's a ton of students over there right now who don't know that they are going through the same thing.”
According to AJC.com, a woman that drove a van for the school had her daughter enrolled. She thought that her daughter would be transferring into High School as a senior, but had to start over as a freshman.
In addition to the issues associated with accreditation, there were numerous reports of abuse coming out of the school including reports of children being handcuffed, sprayed with pepper spray, and left to sleep on concrete floors overnight.
Attorney Doug Rohan of Sandy Springs says that the filing of these indictments has paved the way for him to proceed with filing a civil suit against Beltran on behalf of the families that had been involved. He reported that he was speaking with the families of 21 students already, and didn't know how many more would come forward.
Additional charges against Beltran stem from insurance fraud charges that surfaced initially in 2016. Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens’ Insurance Fraud Investigation Unit, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Roswell Police Department, discovered that Beltran had not only been practicing psychology without a license, but had additionally submitted more than $300,000 in insurance claims for payment, allegedly for counseling families and students. Hudgens said, “My Investigators believe that many of the claims are fraudulent.”