“West Ridge Academy’s license is in good standing, though it was required to submit a ‘corrective action plan’ in 2017 after an inspector came for an unannounced visit and found the facility hadn’t given the required notification about two allegations of a boy having sexual contact with other residents.
“The inspector also cited staffing issues as a contributing factor, and facility management wrote in a letter that they suspended some staff without pay for violating the staff-to-student ratios, retrained its staff and hired more workers.
“West Ridge Academy — which was initially named Utah Boys Ranch, but rebranded in 2005 — applied to be a charter school in 2016 but was denied after former students spoke out with allegations of abuse.
“One student described watching children being pushed face down into the ground by staff, and characterized the facility as ‘an unregulated prison’.
“The facility challenged those accusations, saying they were unfounded.
“When asked about Kirsta’s death, Janet Farnsworth, the executive director of West Ridge Academy, told The Tribune in a recent email that the state’s licensing officer had assured them after an initial meeting that ‘we had followed our protocol for
safety and that our team that intervened with this young lady was properly trained per state standards’.
“Farnsworth said her facility has spent ‘a significant amount of time’ reviewing policies and procedures, and trained and debriefed their staff.
“She said Kirsta’s death did not prompt changes in their treatment methods, but they did make changes to how they respond during crisis events.
“They’ve changed the way they decide which students require more supervision for their safety, she said, and also added more