Lava Heights Academy (2012-present) Toquerville, UT

Residential Treatment Center

History and Background Information

Lava Heights Academy (also called “Lava Heights RTC”) is a Sequel Youth & Family Services behavior-modification program which opened in 2012. It is marketed as a Residential Treatment Center for teenaged girls ages 12-17. Until very recently the program accepted both boys and girls, however, it now only accepts female residents (assigned at birth). It enrolls girls with a history of psychological, emotional, behavioral, social, and other developmental challenges. The tuition was reported in 2015 to be $10,500 per month.

The program is located at 730 Spring Dr, Toquerville, UT 84774. It is located right across the street from another behavior-modification program, Ashcreek Ranch Academy.

It is also important to note that Lava Heights Academy is owned by Sequel Youth & Family Services, and is by nature affiliated with other Sequel programs. There have been many documented and confirmed instances of abuse and neglect in Sequel programs, including the recent death of Cornelius Fredericks, who was killed at Lakeside Academy during a restraint. He was restrained for throwing a sandwich.

Founders and Notable Staff

David Allred is the Executive Director of Lava Heights. He has also worked as the Executive Director of Falcon Ridge Ranch. He began working in the TTI as a Therapist at Logan River Academy, a spin-off of Provo Canyon School (which is widely regarded as the birthplace of the WWASP organization).

Program Structure

The program at Lava Heights is heavily centered around the Fine Arts.

Abuse Allegations

In June 2018, two boys rean away from Lava Heights. They were unable to be located for nearly 4 days, and one of their mothers was reportedly very upset about the way the staff members at LHA handled the situation. She told reporters that staffers at the Lava Heights Academy did not file a missing-person report, nor did they ask area law enforcement to publicize the boys’ disappearance or circulate photographs to solicit help from the public in finding them.

It is also important to note that Lava Heights Academy is owned by Sequel Youth & Family Services. There have been many confirmed instances of abuse and neglect in Sequel programs, including the recent death of Cornelius Fredericks, who was killed at Lakeside Academy during a restraint for throwing a sandwich.

Survivor/Parent Testimonials

7/13/2020: (EX-STAFF) “They abuse the residents and try to blame the staff. Do not apply this place is a joke. They hurt kids and blame staff. This is not a safe environment for anyone staff or resident. Please do yourself a favor and keep scrolling past this job post” – Direct Support Staff (Indeed)

2/20/2018: (EX-STAFF) “I was an employee at Lava Heights Academy. I wanted to work in a field where I could help struggling youth. This was the absolute worst place I have ever worked. The Directors and most Supervisors were a joke. No one has any idea what they are doing and it negatively affects the kids that are there to get help. The choices that are made for by upper management are based strictly off of what will bring in the most money and NOT what will help these kids. If I were a parent looking for a treatment center I would stay far away from this one. There were a handful of staff that actually cared about the students growth and expressed their concerns to upper management and the next thing you know those individuals were let go. Lava Heights should be shut down for the things that have taken place here. I have reported several incidents to the Sequels compliance Manager and still nothing was done. I feel so bad for the kids that are stuck in this awful place. Some incidents included: Staff taking students to unauthorized places and then telling these students to lie about where they went, MANY med errors where incident reports “magically” disappeared, no Thanksgiving dinner because they had a “big” lunch, Snacks were taken away on the weekend due to budget issues, allowing female students to be in the boys group because they identify as a male and visa versa, Directors constantly telling staff and students that they would do something and NEVER following through, Inappropriate restraints and Management would tell staff a specific way to word the incident report, these poor kids don’t get to go out to as many activities as they make it seem. Lava does not have a PE, Dance, or Music teacher as they advertise on their website. Most of the staff on their site haven’t been there for years. The claim to be an arts and music therapy treatment center but the kids aren’t even allowed to listen to music until phase . AGAIN I WILL SAY DO NOT SEND YOUR KIDS HERE FOR HELP.” – Me (Yelp)

2018: (SURVIVOR) “I was here for about a week.their were nice staff but they were very low on staff and people were quiting left and right there was only one nurse and she was only there on the weekends. What really botherd was if one kid was acting up it would mess up the whole schdule it seemed the staff had very little over the giris. One thing i did notice were that there was a lot of good people working like the staff and teachers the facility its self looks very nice and the therapist did seem to care a lot but in my opinion it should b shut bc of how short they are on staff” – Mekeda (Google Reviews)

Related Media

Lava Heights Academy Website Homepage

Mother angry over S. Utah treatment center’s response after son runs away (The Spectrum, 2/23/2018)

After a riot, increasing violence and now sex abuse allegations, Red Rock Canyon school will close (Salt Lake Tribune, 7/10/2019)