Navasota Citizens Oppose Residential Treatment Center

By: Meredith Stancik
By: Meredith Stancik

A controversy has been brewing in Navasota.

A Residential Treatment Center operated by Gardener's Kids Center may open outside the city.
The center is designed for at-risk boys.

Most of the boys would have special needs, like behavioral problems and mental disorders.
The center would be financially supported by former pro-football player Daryl Gardener.
During a public hearing Monday night, dozens of Navasota citizens voiced their concerns about the center locating to Grimes County.

The hearing was held in the house already purchased as the home of the center for boys ages 9 to 17.
The center could take in up to 22 kids with special needs.

"Most of these kids have been abused or neglected by parents or some other person in their family and those are the reasons these children are taken out of their homes, " a representative with Gardener's Kids Center said. "We're just trying to show those kids love."

A license has not been issued by the state for the center to officially open, and many Navasota residents hope it stays that way.

Their big concern, the toll 22 special needs boys would have on the Navasota Independent School District.
School officials say hiring additional faculty could cost the district up to $200,000.

"Will they be embraced, will they be supported and will they be educated-you bet," Dawn Marie Baletka with the Navasota Independent School District said. "We said there would be tough decisions that would have to be made and other programs may have to be cut to meet those needs."

Other concerns include the lack of planning and research done for establishing the center, if police would be overextended helping with in-school problems and possible runaways, and what low performance students could do to the schools Texas Education Agency ratings.

"It will put a drain, a burden on the financial system we have now," Navasota Independent School District Superintendent Jennings Teel said.

The center said that not all students would necessarily be special need.

"We don't even know what kids we're getting so it's hard to say there are 22 special needs students," Gardener's Kids Center Co-Founder and President Tarnesia Gardener said. "No one has ever looked at what if a gifted and talented kid comes in, no one has looked at that."

But Navasota citizens remain firm. They have complained the center's staff has not done its homework and that Navasota is just not ready to house the facility.


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