Daniels Academy (2008-present) Heber City, UT
Therapeutic Boarding School
History and Background Information
Daniels Academy is a behavior-modification program that opened in 2008. It is marketed as a Therapeutic Boarding School for teenage boys (13-18) with Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NLD), Aspergers Syndrome, Attention disorders, Anxiety disorders, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD or NOS), or Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder (SPCD). It was originally founded to help treat teens dealing with opposition, substance abuse, technology addiction, family conflict or social withdrawal, but they have since focused their program towards learning differences. The program has a maximum enrollment of 37 boys, and the average length of stay is is about 14 months, typically with 10 months in the main home and 4 months in apartment living which they call THRIVE.
The program’s campus is located at 904 S 300 W, Heber City, UT 84032. The campus contains three individualized residences for boys with specific needs. One is specifically designed for students with sensory stimulation issues.
In 2013, Daniels Academy was purchased by the Aspiro Group, which also owns Aspiro Wilderness.
Founders and Notable Staff
Ed Callahan was the Co-Founder, Program Director, and Owner of Daniels Academy. he previously worked as a Therapist at Second Nature Wilderness Program. He then went on to work as the Executive Director of the Academy at Canyon Creek, a program operated by the confirmedly abusive Provo Canyon School. In 2011, he began working at Adirondack Leadership Expeditions, a confirmedly abusive Aspen Education Group program.
Brian Murdock was the Co-Founder and Owner of Daniels Academy. He also worked as the program’s Clinical Director from 2008 until 2010. He previously worked as a Therapist at the Oakley School from 2000 until 2006. Then, he began working as a Therapist at Heritage Youth Services for less than a year. He then went on to work as Therapist at the Academy at Canyon Creek, a program operated by the confirmedly abusive Provo Canyon School. Murdock no longer works at Daniels Academy, but instead in private practice.
Erika Feinauer was the Academic Director of Daniels Academy. She is related to Ian Feinauer, who has worked at a number of programs including Samaya RTC, Second Nature Wilderness, the Willow Creek School, and currently, at Crossroads RTC. Erika no longer appears to work at Daniels Academy, but instead at BYU in a teaching position.
Shane Whiting is the current Executive Director of Daniels Academy. He has worked at Daniels Academy since 2013. He previously worked as a Therapist at the confirmedly abusive Cedar Ridge Academy from 2004 until 2009. In 2009, he began working at Vantage Point, and Aspiro program. In 2013, when Aspiro purchased Daniels Academy, Shane became Daniels Academy’s Executive Director. He appears to be related to Erika Feinauer. He was also named as a defendant in a lawsuit against Cedar Ridge in 2014.
Sean Patrick Haggerty is the current Admissions Director of Daniels Academy. He has worked at this program since 2012. He previously worked as the Director of Admissions at the confirmedly abusive Cedar Ridge Academy from 1996 until 2012. He was also named as a defendant in a lawsuit against Cedar Ridge in 2014.
Sam Hill currently works as a Therapist at Daniels Academy. He began his career as the Clinical Program Director of the confirmedly abusive Provo Canyon School for 22 years from 1990 until 2012. He then worked at the confirmedly abusive Youth Care of Utah, an Aspen Education Group program, from 2012 until 2015. He has worked at Daniels Academy as a Therapist since 2014.
Kelly Shaheen works as a Therapist and the current Clinical Director of Daniels Academy. She began her career as a Social Worker at Youth Care of Utah, a confirmedly abusive Aspen Education Group program. In 2008, she began working at Pine Ridge Academy.
Eric Diener worked as the Program Director of Daniels Academy. He previously worked for 3 years at Willow Creek School. He has also worked at Second Nature Wilderness and Gateway Academy.
Justin Robinson became the Executive Director of Daniels Academy after Ed Callahan left in 2011. Prior to coming to Daniels Academy, Robinson worked at the reportedly abusive Aspiro Wilderness. He began his career working at the confirmedly abusive West Ridge Academy/Utah Boys Ranch as an Administrator/Therapist for many years. He currently works at New Perspectives, which is a residential life-coaching program for neurodiverse young adults. It also appears that he works in private practice, and as a Transition Coach for Homeward Bound (transition program).
Joshua Cluff was the Clinical Director of Daniels Academy from 2011 until 2012. He then went on to work as the Clinical Director of Outback Therapeutic Expeditions, which is a program owned by the confirmedly abusive Aspen Education Group. He currently works as a Clinical Psychologist in private practice.
Marci Jubelirer was the Head of School and a Therapist at Daniels Academy. She no longer appears to work at this program, and no additional information can be found about her. She is married to David Jubelirer.
David Jubelirer was the Consulting Developmental Pediatrician at Daniels Academy. He is married to Marci Jubelirer.
Debora Escalante was the Academic Director of Daniels Academy. She previously worked as a Professor at BYU.
Jodi Escalante worked as the Director of Business Administration at Daniels Academy. She previously worked as the Field Director of Outback Therapeutic Expeditions, which is a program owned by the confirmedly abusive Aspen Education Group. She then went on to work at Vantage Point by Aspiro from 2006 until 2010, when she joined Daniels Academy.
Ken Betts worked as the Program Director of Daniels Academy from 2010 until 2013. He previously worked in a variety of programs. From 2004 until 2005, he worked at the confirmedly abusive Wilderness Quest. He then went on to work as the Program Director of Aspiro Wilderness from 2005 until 2007. He then worked as the Director of After Care Services at the confirmedly abusive West Ridge Academy/Utah Boys Ranch from 2007 until 2009. He currently works as an IB Psychology Teacher at Providence Hall High School.
Gordon L. Day was a Member of the Board of Directors (Clinical Oversight) at Daniels Academy. He previously worked as the Clinical Director of Aspiro Wilderness. Before Aspiro, he worked at both Summit Preparatory School and Outback Therapeutic Expeditions, which is a program owned by the confirmedly abusive Aspen Education Group. In 2015, he helped found Discover Seven Starts, a Family Help & Wellness program, and he continues to work as the program’s Executive Director.
Randy Oakley was a Member of the Board of Daniels Academy. From 1992 until 2005, he worked as the Program Director of the confirmedly abusive West Ridge Academy/Utah Boys Ranch. From 2005 until 2013, he worked as the Founder/CEO of the Aspiro Group, which bought Daniels Academy in 2013. He currently works as the CEO/Co-Founder of Pacia Life and as Business Consultant for the Tatori Group.
Brian Church was a Member of the Board of Daniels Academy. He helped create the Aspiro Group in 2006, and served as the President and a Board Member until 2013. He currently works as an Executive Board Member and Investor at the Aspiro Group.
Neil Wallace worked as the Program Director of Daniels Academy from 2013-2017. He currently works as the Executive Director of the reportedly abusive Spark Academy, a Heritage Schools program.
No information is known about the program used by Daniels Academy. It uses a level-system, which is a common practice in many behavior-modification programs. There are at least 3 levels, and on the third level the residents are allowed to practice “independent living”.
If you attended Daniels Academy and would like to contribute information to help complete this page, please contact u/shroomskillet.
Abuse Allegations and Red Flags
Daniels Academy has been reported by many survivors to be an abusive program. Allegations of abuse which have been reported by survivors include unqualified/undertrained staff, verbal and emotional abuse, and group-punishments.
There are several red flags that can be seen on their website, as pointed out by reddit user u/SomervilleMAGhost, who wrote “This program does not post financial information on the web site. Parents should be given a range for how much the school is going to cost and what proportion of the cost could be covered by insurance. This program does not post its policies, procedures and student handbook online. Parents deserve this information. This program does not post its parent / teen communication policy. Federal law requires that teens be able to place unmonitored phone calls to their parents (and certain other entities, such as police, child advocacy organizations, etc.) Many facilities use a ‘level’ system and don’t allow, severely limit and/or teen’s ability to communicate with their parents.”
9/28/2018: (SURVIVOR) “A horrible place. They let autistic kids run around and act like shits, the staff do nothing but play on their phones, and they do nothing to help you in treatment. I was left here for a year, and felt suicidal every day. I have NEVER felt suicidal before. My parents pulled me out, and say that i am doing a great job here at home. Take your money and children elswhere, your children will thank you.” – Flimsy (Facebook)
6/13/2018: (SURVIVOR) “I was a student at daniels academy a year ago. My giant problem with the school is that it’s a for profit business. They are obliged to fill the beds at the program to maximize profits. So many times they let a kid that was dangerous and toxic to the other kids stay beyond their welcome. What happens when a kid acts up? Well kids like me who can resist breaking things and getting psychical have to sit around all day while half of the staff deals with a kid. If your child has an interest like going to the library or getting out of the house in general they will be extremly dissapointed at daniels academy. Even if when I was at the thrive program, you will be at the whim of a few naughtychildren. Daniels Acedemy instead of waiting for good canidates would fill the beds at with horrible unfriendly, lazy, dependent, resistent kids. So when nice kids that can control themselves are deemed good enough to move up to thrive they will have to wait additional time until a kid from thrive graduates. Another thing that you should take a note of is that Shane Whiting (Executive Director) and Sean Haggerty (Admissions Director) used to work at Cedar Ridge where a fifteen year old teen was given drugs and was sexually assualted by a nurse. They were listed on a lawsuit brought by the victim. I don’t really know anything Shanes and Seans involvement in Cedar Ridge and I do not know if the case is decided. You may want to ask them before you consider enrolling your child in this program.” – Anon (Yelp)
Daniels Academy Website Homepage