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Hearing for Eureka kids ranch license still underway

Hearing for Eureka kids ranch license still underway
Posted at 9:00 AM, Dec 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-06 11:00:38-05

State officials say the hearing into the license suspension for a Lincoln County youth ranch is still underway and there's no estimate on how long it might be before there's a decision on whether the Ranch for Kids will be allowed to have students again.

The Ranch for Kids at Rexford made headlines last summer when the Montana Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS) removed 27 students from the facility after investigators found evidence of "egregious physical and psychological abuse." The complaint said students had been severely disciplined, at times being hit, kicked and body slammed.

The Ranch appealed the suspension. Executive Director William Sutley told MTN News the school was designed to help kids suffering from Attachment Disorder and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

DPHHS spokesman Jon Ebelt tells MTN News this week the hearing process is continuing. He says that process is similar to a trial, with attorneys presenting arguments and evidence to a hearings officer, who makes a final decision.

Ebelt says it could several months to complete that process. Once hearing officer renders a decision, Ebelt says either side has the opportunity to appeal the decision to District Court.