Also known as
638 SW Biltmore St., Port St. Lucie, FL 34983
No legally recognized accreditation
"to provide struggling young people the highest quality education possible, incorporating the principles of leadership, discipline, patriotism, and honor in a military environment. our primary intent is to help enable students to become productive citizens and to help them shape their futures into satisfying and fulfilling lives."
This boarding school for boys takes “recruits” as young as 11 and tries to teach them compliance by giving them rules down to details of how they crease their sheets and where their eyes land.
Consequences for infractions range from exercise to swats to a punishment food called “stuff,” made up of soggy vegetables, swimming in vinegar, designed not to go down easily.
The school's director, Alan Weierman, says he doesn't believe in "boot camps," isn't trying to build "robots" or break his kids down. His "mind, body and soul" approach is to instill discipline that will last.
Weierman says he reserves the right to shackle boys at risk of running away.
Weierman calls himself a colonel, though he has no military experience except for what he described as six weeks in the Army. He said he was dismissed for an allergy to bees.
DCF filed suit against the school after it found a shackled runaway and determined that 15 other residents had been in some way mistreated. The state wanted a judge to order the boot camp to get accredited or stop operating. But a judge said the academy was making a “good faith effort” to get accredited.
Lochane Smith , 21
In a jail interview recently, Smith described how he was shackled at the hands and feet for days and was called racial slurs before he ran away.
Michaela Mattox sent her 14-year-old son to the academy five months ago and now has regrets. She feels like she can't communicate freely with him as staff members read his mail and supervise his phone calls. She hears him cry so hard sometimes, she can barely make out words.
Annual tuition for first year
Most of the religious group homes reviewed by the Tampa Bay Times are nonprofit organizations and must file financial information each year with the IRS. The Times collected these public records, which reveal income and expenses and other basic information about each organization. In some cases, the forms could not be found.
Tax information for 2010:
($363,464 in prior year)
State investigators have responded to at least 30 allegations of abuse and neglect at the academy since 2000. The state verified 9 of those allegations, including cases involving medical neglect, physical injury, sexual abuse and bizarre punishment.
DCF abuse or neglect investigations
DCF verified cases
Maltreatment types reported
Alan Weierman has served in a leadership role in FACCCA-accredited institutions since at least 1989, when he was accused of tampering with a witness in a molestation case. His home has undergone an evolution through the years — at one point, it was a state-licensed foster home. It is now a military academy, without any legally-recognized accreditation. Weierman is seeking accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
The school has been sued by three parents, claiming their children were abused or neglected. The academy settled all three suits in some instances simply agreeing to refund tuition costs. When DCF sued the school in 2009, it described 35 prior abuse allegations.
Apart from the 1989 incident, none of the abuse investigations have led to charges.
While Alan Weierman refers to himself as "Colonel," he is not a member of the military. He is the president or commanding officer of the boot camp. Weierman believes rigid rules and disipline are effective tools in changing the behaviors of rebellious and troubled boys. Weierman was a teenager who had run-ins with the law and an abusive childhood when the Rev. William Brink invited him to live at his Ohio group home for delinquent youth. By 19, he was married to the preacher's daughter and working in the family business. Weierman's father-in-law opened a home in Florida in the mid '80s, which Weierman later took over.
According to this group home's tax form for 2010:
Group home profile last updated: Dec. 7, 2012, 1:49 p.m.