Editorial: Get at the truth of what happened at Glenwood

Editorial: Get at the truth of what happened at Glenwood

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This week, the top official at the Glenwood Resource Center was fired. In a letter from the Iowa Department of Human Services, Jerry Rea, Glenwood's superintendent, was informed he was being dismissed because of " a mounting list of disregard for policies and procedures."

Rea had been on leave since early December.

The Glenwood facility, which is near Omaha and provides care and services to people with intellectual disabilities, has been under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for potential violations. A letter from the department said the inquiry is focused on whether the residents' rights were violated by putting them at risk with "harmful and uncontrolled human subject experiments, inadequate medical and nursing care, physical and nutritional management and behavioral health care."

The Des Moines Register has been reporting on conditions at the facility for months, including on an unusual increase in deaths.

The current investigation also involves examining whether residents were the subject of sexual arousal studies. It's been reported that Rea, once an adjunct assistant research professor at the University of Kansas, has published several research papers on sexual behavior of individuals with intellectual disabilities.

The state also is investigating.

We have said previously that we are not in a position to judge this situation yet. That still goes. There is a lot to be learned. But Rea’s dismissal and the allegation that there is a "mounting list" of disregard for the rules is of great concern.

The Register reported the Department of Human Services has said it will provide more information about Rea’s dismissal in the future, and that it will hold a town hall meeting so families can be informed. We hope the state follows through on both counts. We have written previously about the departure of some top department heads in Iowa that went without adequate explanation. But this is surely a different circumstance.

Gov. Kim Reynolds has called the allegations at Glenwood "unacceptable" and said she's waiting for recommendations.

The federal and state investigations are still ongoing, and it's not clear when they will be finished. But what is clear is this situation needs serious oversight. We believe state lawmakers in both parties ought to be aggressive in assessing what has happened here. When legislators return to session in January, it should be high on their agenda.


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