Tag Archives: #ConflictOfInterest

2017: Bruce McAllister may have been sexually abusing exchange students for several years

https://i0.wp.com/www.mugshotsnow.com/fl/9-hernando-county/full/43320722-bruce-mcallister.jpg
Bruce R McAllister HCSO17MNI001480 from mugshotnow.com

Sexual predators come in all shapes and sizes. Discovering one is often a matter of chance, as was the case when a complaint was made to Florida Department of Children and Families. People around them often find it difficult to believe that the abuser could possibly have done what they are accused of doing. Some of them are pillars of their societies. Such is the case with Bruce McAllister from Brooksville, Florida.

Bruce McAllister is 68 years old and married to the principal of Hernando Christian Academy. Cathy McAllister is currently on administrative leave. Bruce was a volunteer at the Hernando Christian Academy McAllister where he “assisting in the physical therapy training of athletes” by giving massages. After the school were contacted by investigators they fired him. He was also a volunteer with the Hernando Sheriff’s Office until his arrest. Until the investigation began, McAllister was considered a pillar of his society.

Hernando Christian Academy is a private Christian school in Brooksville, Florida. They welcome foreign exchange students into their school and the homes of their students’ parents as an opportunity to be missionaries “to share the love of Jesus Christ in your own home“. Foreign exchange organizations, such as Three Way International, find host-families through the Academy. Each family can (but do not have to) receive $600 per student to offset their expenses. They are asked twice about criminal background and/or sexual misconduct.

Cathy and Bruce McAllister began hosting foreign exchange students in their home in 2006 and have been part of the Hernando Christian Academy exchange program since. Bruce McAllister has had contact with many more boys in his role as what he claimed “a physical therapist and an expert in sports medicine”. From what the investigators have uncovered, he groomed the boys actively from the time exchange students arrived in September of the school-year by using his position as an assistant with the school teams. The first case was from 2006, the year the McAllister’s began hosting and the police believe it is likely that there are several potential victims. In addition to sexual massages, McAllister also served the boys alcohol.

Bruce R. McAllister was arrested May 11, 2017 by the Hernando Sheriff’s Department and charged with with five counts of sexual battery by a custodian of a person between the ages of 12 and 18 years old, and 27 counts of battery. His victims, this year, were from different European countries. Bail was set at $77000. After he was released on bail, Bruce and Cathy left the area without notifying authorities, but were picked up by The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office. Bruce R. McAllister is now considered a flight risk.

If you have something to report regarding Bruce R. McAllister of Hernando Christian Academy in Brooksville, Florida, PLEASE contact Detective Pasternak at (352) 540-3800, or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-990-TIPS and hernandocountycrimestoppers.com.

Reblogged: 2011/2012 STS EXPERIENCE (CANADA)

Translation of: 2011/2012 STS KOKEMUS (CANADA)

The Helsinki District Court sentenced STS Kielimatkat to refund €6.505 (US$7.105) to Finnish Salla Rautiola due to unfair dismissal and numerous other breaches of contract in their exchange student program.
Sallas case has been mentioned and partly presented in MOT documentary, «Vaihto-oppilas heitteillä«, «Exchange student neglect exposed». Let Salla’s exchange experience be a warning about what an exchange student year can be like in reality.

STS provided the host family information in July 2011, one month before the departure date, but withheld the information they had received the day before from STS CANADA that STS could not fulfill the French-speaking program. Instead, Salla would have to be placed with an English-speaking family.

IN CANADA:

As a host family, STS had chosen a 62-year old single Jamaican immigrant who for the most part socialized with her own relatives and culture and who spoke only Jamaican creole. The Canadian life-style or traditions were not present in any way in her filthy and moldy house. In the Helsinki District Court, as STS witness, a former male exchange student, who had lived in the same house a couple of years earlier, told the court that the host mother never cleaned. He witnessed that it was his and another exchange student’s responsibility to clean the house. At that time there was still a vacuum cleaner in the house. During Sallas stay there was no vacuum cleaner in a house with wall-to-wall carpet. This witness also told the court how the basement was used as a living room where they watched TV and used the computer. STS Finland country manager, Mira Silvonen, continued insisting that the condition of the home was suitable for an allergic person and gave up to seven different explanations (move, cellar, store etc.) for the pictures Salla had taken of the house. The shocked child protection officials in Finland stated that they would not even temporarily place a minor in conditions like that. Responsible for this host family’s approval as a host family for an allergic minor for ten months was area representative Sandra Hanniman/STS Foundation Canada.

Within two months, Salla started to get allergic reactions from all the dust and mold (picture). She could not go to school, but the host mother did not let the school know about Salla’s absence as required, something STS later blamed Salla for and issued her a warning about. Because of her strong allergic symptoms, Salla asked both the host mother and the area representative, Sandra Hanniman, to take her to see a doctor, but the host mother stated that: «The doctors don’t know anything» and the area representative said: «Let’s see».  As parents we had to get the medicine here in Finland and mail them as express to Canada. Instead of helping Salla get to the doctor, STS Canada area director Kim Berry decided to issue a warning to Salla regarding her host mother not informing Salla’s school about her absence. Salla was invited to STS Canada office 14. Nov. 2011. Salla had written a four page complaint about all the problems and failures on STS’ part so far:

  • There was no school placement arranged by STS when Salla arrived. Salla was turned away from Gisele la Londe-school, because they had no knowledge of the exchange student. It took almost a week to arrange a school placement.

  • The host mother left for five days leaving Salla alone with the allergic symptoms. The host mother did not leave any contact information to Salla and strongly forbad Salla to inform STS about her absence.

  • The host mother did not check her mailbox despite Sallas request. Salla had no key to the mail box. The expensive medication we had sent from Finland lay in the mail box nine days before Salla finally got them.

  • The host mothers fierce mood swings raised questions. She could be laughing and dancing by herself, but in an instant lose her temper and throw dishes to the floor. Once Salla saw a ziplock-bag on the kitchen table and the host mother told her not to touch it and that it was marijuana. As parents we became worried about that and asked STS to investigate. Despite the pictures taken of the supposed marijuana bag, STS only threatened to issue another warning to Salla for spreading unfounded rumours. The local representative, also the host mothers best friend, stated that she did not believe it was marijuana. That was all STS did. Case closed. …

The rest of the article may be read at CSFES Norway.

2006 Feb 22: Student Exchange Programs an Unregulated Industry

©Gloucester County Times | By REESA MARCHETTI Staff Writer

Guzel of Sterlitamak, Russia, 15 years old, plays basketball and enjoys running. She likes music, literature and dancing and is in the choir. She has two younger brothers. Her teacher says, “She is rather modest, kind, polite and ready to help others.”

As described in a foreign exchange student agency brochure, inviting a youngster like Guzel to stay in your home may sound like a wonderful way to promote international goodwill and expand your cultural awareness.

But recent problems encountered by a host family in Pittsgrove Township have led many people to wonder who regulates the agencies that bring in these students — and what is the cost, to the families, the students and the school districts.

Gitte Hommelgaard, 18, of Denmark has become the object of controversy since she arrived in Pittsgrove last month to stay with the Pokrovsky family and attend Arthur P. Shalick High School there.

Because the school had recently changed its exchange student policy to require 90 days notice to register a foreign student, Hommelgaard was denied admission. Her host mother, Sandy Pokrovsky, appealed the school board’s decision to the state department of education and won emergency relief to enroll the Danish teen at Schalick.

According to the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET), the agency that placed the Danish student should have secured written acceptance from a school official before sending her to the Pokrovsky’s home.

The CSIET, however, is a strictly voluntary system of self-monitoring to which exchange agencies may apply. Adhering to such standards is not legally required in order for an organization to place students from other countries in U.S. schools — and homes.

There are no regulations that control how or when foreign exchange students attend New Jersey’s public schools.

Rich Vespucci, a spokesman at the N.J. Department of Education, said those issues are handled by local boards of education.

“It is a local decision,” Vespucci said. “There aren’t any state regulations that apply to it.”

Nationally, exchange agencies are self-regulated via several voluntary programs. The United States Information Agency (USIA) designates non-profit organizations that meet their requirements, and authorizes them to issue applications for one-year student visas.

The national Association of Secondary School Principals’ CSIET sanctions both non-profit and private agencies who voluntarily submit to their guidelines. Many agencies, such as the Cultural Academic Student Exchange (CASE), which placed Hommelgaard in Pittsgrove, are designated by both the USIA and the CSIET.

Legally, agencies do not have to register with either one in order to arrange student exchanges. Students do not need an agency to get visa applications — they may obtain the visas for themselves, or school principals here or abroad may arrange for the student to get them.

The USIA has a booklet with more than 40 pages of regulations, and operating and financial criteria, that organizations must meet in order to become USIA-designated.

So how does this federal agency monitor its 1,100 exchange programs, of which approximately 70 deal exclusively with high school students? USIA public liaison Bill Reinckens said the only way his office can regulate them is when a complaint is received.

“It is handled on a case by case basis until the situation is resolved,” he said. “We don’t have the staff and resources to be pro-active in our monitoring.

“However, we do a lot more than respond to complaints. We handle the general administration and procedures involved in conducting these exchange programs. As part of this effort, there is constant dialogue and a regular relationship between the USIA and the program organizations we designate.”

Reinckens stressed that contrary to what many of the agencies imply in their advertising, they cannot issue student visas. They are only allowed to supply the application forms.

“The USIA issues application forms that the organizations complete for the participants,” he said. “Then the participants take them to the U.S. consulate in their home country. The students pursue the visas in their country.”

Reinckens suggests that people thinking of hosting an exchange student check with their local better business bureau or department of education. Unlike New Jersey, he said that some states have adopted laws governing exchange agencies.

Various states, among them Washington, Minnesota and California,” he said, “have passed laws and regulations regarding these kinds of organizations.”

According to Reinckens, 23,000 to 25,000 foreign students attend public school in the U.S. annually on J-1 visas, assisted by USIA-designated agencies. One of the provisions of J-1 is that there are no repeat visits allowed.

“Students on a J-1 can be here for a minimum of one semester to a maximum one-year stay,” he said. “There’s another kind called an F student visa, where a student can stay as long as a high school issues an I-20 form. The high school is responsible for issuing that form.

“Another kind of visa is a B-visa, which is a visitors visa for short-term visits. For example, a student may enter the U.S. on a B-visa if they are just going to attend a class for a few weeks.”

* * *

Some of the methods used by exchange agencies to locate and screen host families for foreign students can cause problems for all parties involved.

Robert Bender, the superintendent of the Carneys Point-Penns Grove district said he has been troubled to see ads for host families on telephone poles just prior to the start of the school year.

“That caused part of the problem,” he said. “They didn’t find families until late in the summer. I think it’s a worthwhile program, but they need to find host families first before bringing the students over.

“Once they do that, it will eliminate a lot of concerns the schools have.”

Bender said that although having a foreign student can be a benefit for the school, it is difficult for administrators to prepare for the student’s needs on short notice.

“A foreign student is a living social studies lesson right in the classroom — there’s so much to be gained by our own students,” he said. “But at the end of summer where you have transfer students coming at the last minute, exchange students make it a little more difficult. We need to review their transcripts and find out where they should be placed.

“You want them to be successful when they’re here. If you only have a day or two, that’s not the way we like it to be. It’s better to do this in time to properly place them.”

Danish student Hommelgaard recently got a lesson in the problems school officials have to deal with when placing a student from another country. Although she is 18 and is taking mostly Grade 12 courses, she had to be placed in junior level history when she started classes at Schalick on Wednesday.

“It’s a bit difficult when you don’t know it,” she said. “I know more Danish history than American history.”

According to Bender, a girl from Russia who attended Penns Grove High School last year didn’t work out and ended up going back home.

Penny Tarplin, the Pittsburgh area CASE director, said that it is not unusual to have to place a child as late as August.

“Sometimes a placement falls through,” she said. “In May, the father of a family here had a heart attack and died.

“Or sometimes a student cancels. I’ve been doing this for 24 years and we learn everything the hard way.”

Ads seeking host families by the Pittsburgh CASE organization can be found in locations as diverse as local newspapers to a page on the Internet.

Tarplin said that except in the few states that require police background checks for host families, her organization is not allowed to request them. Instead, she said she relies on her instincts at an in-home interview with all family members, and three letters of recommendation obtained by the host parents.

“A police check has not been necessary so far,” she said.   “We expect the references to take care of that —  someone will spill the beans if there are problems.

“I went to visit a potential family once, and all over their wall, they had guns. Needless to say, we did not place a student with them.”

Ellen Battaglia, who is the president of the national CASE organization based in Middletown, agreed that CASE representatives have to use their “professional experience” to find a safe, compatible match between a student and a host family.

“If a student calls and has the slightest qualms about a family, we take the student out,” she said. “We’ve never had any sexual or physical abuse from the host family.”

John Doty is a member of CSIET’s board of directors, as well as the director of Pacific Intercultural Exchange, a West Coast-based student exchange organization. He agreed that being able to do police checks on potential families would be ideal, but not possible in most cases.

“I would feel more comfortable if we had access to criminal background checks,” he said. “We would love nothing more than to tap into a database to find this out.”

According to Doty, even in areas where host families are required by law to agree to a background check, the cost and length of time it would take — up to six months — can be prohibitive.

“Our program’s application form asks if anyone in the family has ever committed a felony,” he said, “but if you ask and the answer comes back no, what good is it? We have to assume that it’s answered correctly.”

Doty said his agency checks with the schools, as well as asking potential host families for personal references.

“If the school says, I wouldn’t place a student with that family, we listen,” he said. “Our program brought in 20,000 students in the past 20 years and never had any reported abuse.”

Tarpin said that to facilitate the student and family getting along, she holds an orientation meeting within 10 days of the student’s arrival in the United States.

“There usually are little things that are cultural that they have to get used to,” she said.

As a local representative, she is expected to stay in close contact with the student and the family, by phone and in person, to help them through any problems during the student’s stay.

Battaglia said that CASE workers are independent contractors who receive $20 a month for each student they supervise.

* * *

The CASE organization is currently under scrutiny by the USIA and the CSIET for its actions in placing the Danish student with the Pokrovsky family.

“We look for patterns of concern,” said Anne Shattuck, CSIET director of operations. “Is this an isolated incident or is this a pattern? Our standards require written acceptance from the school prior to assigning a student to a family, but there may be extenuating circumstances where a phone call worked.”

Because each organization must reapply annually to be CSIET-designated, the incident will not be considered until the CSIET board’s regular meeting in January, Shattuck said.

Doty said that the majority of companies placing foreign students are not regulated at all.

“The USIA has stringent rules, but for-profit agencies are not regulated,” he said. “There are problems of screening issues because programs don’t have to comply with any standards.”

Doty said that when he helped push for legislation in his home state of California, one of the biggest problems faced was identifying organizations that are not designated by the USIA or CSIET.

“It’s impossible to know how many programs are out there,” he said. “Some are here today and gone tomorrow.

“Part of the problem comes from schools being unaware of the nature of this business. If the schools were more selective and knew what to look for in an exchange program, I think they would be diminishing their potential for problems.”

Doty said that non-designated, for-profit agencies are not necessarily bad.

“Some are excellent and have wonderful reputations,” he said.

Woodstown High School Principal Steve Merckel said being a non-profit agency doesn’t exclude everyone involved in it from making money.

“Non-profit doesn’t mean that the people who head them up don’t get big salaries,” he said.

To some school administrators, the addition of a foreign exchange student to the class rolls can be a culturally enriching experience for the entire student body, but others don’t accept them.

Kathleen Carfagno, administrative assistant to the Gloucester County Superintendent of Schools, said districts differ in their views on exchange students.

“We’ve talked about it with the local principals group. There are some schools, by policy, who say that we are not going to accept them,” she said. “Others say it’s a good opportunity to learn from someone from a foreign country.”

Merckel cited good experiences with students placed by both the 4-H and the Youth for Understanding organizations in the school district.

“They do an excellent job of monitoring students and working with families,” he said. “They usually take families known within the organization. I’ve worked with agencies before that don’t screen the kids or families well, and don’t give support when you have problems.”

Merkel said the school’s foreign exchange student policy, which was revised to limit exchange students to four per year, has helped the district avoid problems.

“Limiting the number you have in one year,” he said, “allows you to better give assistance to the students.”

* * *

The expense to the school district for enrolling a foreign student for a year is difficult to determine, but appears to be minimal. Henry Bermann, the board secretary and business administrator for the Pittsgrove district, said that the cost per student to attend Schalick is budgeted at $6,500.

“But we won’t know the actual audited cost until the following year,” he said.

One of the reasons the cost can’t be determined immediately is that state aid, which is granted per student enrolled, is often based on enrollment figures for the previous year. So in many cases, having an exchange student could result in increased state funding to a district.

An average of four or five exchange students a year may attend Kingsway Regional High School in Woolwich Township, according to Superintendent Terence Crowley.

“The biggest thing in my opinion,” he said, “is that it allows our kids to meet with other students from other countries.”

Crowley said there is another benefit to the exchange programs — Kingsway students have had the opportunity to study in other countries including Japan, Brazil and Ecuador.

Staff writer Cynthia Collier contributed to this  report

————————————————————

Color added by editor | Aside from USIA being replaced by Department of State, the same issues raised in this article keep on occuring today. John Doty’s Pacific International was taken off CSIET’s approved list as late as 2012 due to severe breaches. This is not by any means a naive or innocent industry.

2014 May 04: The Californian nightmare of an exchange student / Der kalifornische Albtraum eines Austauschschülers

Von: Andreas Leisi | 04.05.2014

Bei der Gastfamilie unerwünscht, von der Koordinatorin als «Dreckskerl» bezeichnet: Der 16-jährige Konstantin wurde bei einer Schüleraustausch-Organisation zum Spielball von Geldinteressen.

Die Abschlussfeier an einer Highschool ist ein Höhepunkt – Konstantin hatte an seiner Schule nur Ärger. Foto: S. Demiroz (Getty Images)
Die Abschlussfeier an einer Highschool ist ein Höhepunkt – Konstantin hatte an seiner Schule nur Ärger. Foto: S. Demiroz (Getty Images)

Mit der Firma EF Education First reisen jährlich Millionen von jungen Erwachsenen ins Ausland. Die Angebote von EF verheissen unter anderem das hautnahe Kennenlernen anderer Länder und Kulturen, kombiniert mit dem Erlernen der Sprache. Beworben wird beispielsweise das zehn Monate dauernde High School Year in den USA von EF so: «Bist du bereit für das grosse Abenteuer? Während deines EF High School Years hast du die einmalige Chance neue Herausforderungen anzunehmen, viele nette Menschen kennen zu lernen, eine Fremdsprache zu erlernen und erwachsen zu werden.»

Ein Abenteuer und viele Herausforderungen hat zwischen September 2012 und Juni 2013 der damals 16-jährige Austauschschüler Konstantin im nordamerikanischen Kalifornien tatsächlich erlebt. «Es begann mit Verzögerungen, obwohl bei der Buchung bei EF Schweiz für den August ein Platz in einer Gastfamilie garantiert war», sagt die Mutter Franziska Stöcklin, die in Zürich lebt und für den USA-Aufenthalt ihres Sohnes 13’500 Franken bezahlte. «Konstantin konnte dann erst im September, drei Wochen nachdem die Schule bereits begonnen hatte, nach Kalifornien reisen. EF sagte uns, man habe früher keine Gastfamilie gefunden.»

Das Zuhause als Kontrollhölle

Die Probleme hielten an. Konstantin war in seinem neuen Zuhause von Beginn weg mit Vorwürfen konfrontiert: «Meine Gastmutter baute ein Kontrollsystem auf, verbot mir auszugehen, drohte mir mit Konsequenzen bei Alkoholkonsum und nahm mir mein Laptop und mein Handy weg», so der Austauschschüler im Rückblick. «Zudem behandelte sie mich kalt, und ich hatte nie das Gefühl, willkommen zu sein. Später erfuhr ich auch, dass sie mich beschuldigte, 500 Dollar von ihr gestohlen zu haben.»

Die Gastmutter und die Hauptkoordinatorin von EF in Kalifornien, Sandra Woods, standen dabei in permanentem Kontakt miteinander. Nach diversen Vorwürfen an die Adresse des Schweizer Austauschschülers drohte die Kündigung des EF-Programms und die frühzeitige Heimreise. Mutter Stöcklin sagt über ihr einziges Telefonat mit Woods: «Sie sagte mir, in Amerika würden Kinder nicht selbstständig Entscheide treffen. Hintergrund war, dass er nicht sofort gemeldet hatte, dass Konstantin nach der Schule nicht umgehend nach Hause ging.»

«She is very driven by money»

Es kam der Verdacht auf, dass die Hauptkoordinatorin von EF sehr daran interessiert war, Konstantin wegen Regelverstössen frühzeitig nach Hause schicken zu können, um einen anderen Schüler in der Gastfamilie platzieren zu können und mehrfache Provisionen einzustreichen. Diese Vorgehensweise wird durch den Ex-EF-Koordinator William Alexander bestätigt, der sich nach seiner Kündigung an das Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in Washington wandte.

Alexander wies darauf hin, dass Sandra Woods aus Profitgründen mehr Austauschschüler ins Land geholte hatte, als Plätze in Familien zur Verfügung standen. Sandra Woods sei eine «sehr unethische Person», die nicht mit jungen Austauschschülern arbeiten sollte. Und: «She is very driven by money.»

Zudem bestätigt Alexander, dass Woods gegenüber Konstantin eine persönliche Aversion hatte. Das ging gemäss Alexander so weit, dass sie einen anderen Schüler anstiftete, den Schweizer Schüler an eine Party mit Alkoholausschank einzuladen, um dann die Polizei anzurufen, den 16-Jährigen anzeigen zu lassen und ihn wegen dieses Vergehens nach Hause schicken zu können. William Alexander war es schliesslich, der für Konstantin eine neue Gastfamilie fand, in der er – diesmal glücklich und durchaus anpassungsfähig – sein EF Highschool Year zu Ende bringen konnte.

«He’s a punk»

Hinter den Kulissen erreichte der Fall nach verschiedenen Interventionen der Mutter eine höhere bürokratische Ebene. Danielle Grijalva, Direktorin des Komitees für Sicherheit der ausländischen Studenten in Kalifornien, wandte sich im Mai 2013 ebenfalls an das Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in Washington mit einer Beschwerde gegen Sandra Woods. Darin wird neben der allgemeinen Bemerkung, dass ausländische Austauschschüler immer wieder ausgenützt und schlecht behandelt würden («Abuse of foreign exchange students remains rampant») aus der SMS-Kommunikation zwischen Sandra Woods und William Alexander betreffend Konstantin zitiert. Darin äussert sich Woods unflätig über Konstantin: «I wish we could just send his ass home.» («Ich wünschte mir, wir könnten diesen A… einfach heimschicken. Er wird mir das ganze Jahr Probleme machen.») Oder: «He’s a punk.» («Er ist ein Dreckskerl.»)

In einem Artikel des «K-Tipps» gibt Grijalva zudem Folgendes zu Protokoll: «Das Problem von EF und ähnlichen Organisationen ist, dass sie nicht genug passende Gastfamilien finden. Deshalb werden die Kinder ständig hin- und ­hergeschoben.» Und: «Wenn es zu Problemen kommt, heisst es immer, die Schüler seien selber schuld – aber nie die Gastfamilie, der Betreuer vor Ort oder die Vermittlerorganisation.»

Grijalva kritisiert zudem das Besoldungssystem für EF-Betreuer, die auf Provisionsbasis arbeiteten. Pro Austauschschüler gebe es mindestens 300 Dollar. Je mehr Schüler EF-Betreuer unterbringen würden, desto mehr Boni bekämen sie. Und desto höher wird auch der Bonus pro Schüler.

Keine finanzielle Entschädigung

Zwischen der Mutter Franziska Stöcklin und der Zürcher Stelle von EF gab es am 19. März 2013 – ebenfalls erst nach diversen Interventionen der Mutter – ein Gespräch, bei dem EF Schweiz gemäss Stöcklin eingesehen habe, dass im Fall von Konstantin die einem von EF vermittelten Schüler zustehende Betreuung nicht funktionierte. «Zuvor wurde ich von EF Schweiz immer als Mutter behandelt, die einfach nicht einsehen will, dass sich ihr Sohn nicht an die Regeln hält. Eine tatsächliche Überprüfung vieler klarer Falschinformationen aus den USA machte EF nicht.» EF Schweiz habe bei dem besagten Gespräch auch akzeptiert, dass ihr Dienstleistungsversprechen nicht eingehalten wurde und die Kommunikation von Sandra Woods inakzeptabel sei. EF Schweiz hat in der Folge jedoch weder auf die Forderung der Mutter nach einer offiziellen Entschuldigung vor Konstantin reagiert, noch offerierte die Firma eine finanzielle Entschädigung.

EF schweigt

Im Rahmen der Recherche für diesen ­Artikel nahm Mario Tschopp, Programmleiter EF High School Exchange Year, folgendermassen Stellung: «Der Fall ist uns bekannt, und wir haben die angezeigten internen Schritte unternommen. Wir bitten Sie jedoch um Verständnis dafür, dass wir aus Gründen des Persönlichkeitsschutzes zu Angelegenheiten, welche individuelle Kunden- und Arbeitsverhältnisse betreffen, in der Öffentlichkeit keine Stellung nehmen.» Damit bleibt unklar, ob Sandra Woods weiterhin in Kalifornien als Hauptkoordinatorin von EF tätig ist und Schweizer Austauschschüler betreut.

——————————————————

Google translation:

With the host family undesirable designated by the coordinator as a “bastard”: The 16-year-old Constantine was at a student exchange organization at the mercy of money interests.

Traveling with the company EF Education First year millions of young adults abroad. Offers by EF promised, among other things, the skin-like learning about other countries and cultures, combined with learning the language. Applied, for example, ten-month high school year in the United States of EF as: “Are you ready for the big adventure? During your EF High School Years you have to accept the new challenges unique opportunity to learn many nice people to learn a foreign language and to grow up. “

An adventure and many challenges has actually experienced between September 2012 and June 2013, the then 16-year-old exchange student Konstantin in North America California. “It started with delays, although when booking at EF Switzerland a place in a host family was guaranteed for August,” the Mother Frances Stöcklin, who lives in Zurich and paid 13,500 francs for the US whereabouts of her son says. “Constantine was then only in September three weeks after the school had already started to travel to California. EF told us that they had earlier found any family. “

The home inspection as hell

The problems continued. Constantine was gone confronted in his new home from the start reproaches: “My host mother built a system of control, forbade me to go out, threatened me with consequences of alcohol consumption and took my laptop and my phone away,” says the exchange student in retrospect. “In addition, she treated me cold, and I have never felt so welcome. Later I learned that she accused me of having stolen $ 500 from her. “

The host mother and the main coordinator of EF in California, Sandra Woods, therefore were in constant contact with each other. After several criticisms of the address of the Swiss exchange student threatened termination of the EF program and the early departure. Stöcklin mother says of her only phone call with Woods: “She told me that in America children would not independently make decisions. The background was that he had not immediately reported that Konstantin not immediately went home after school. “

“She is very driven by money»

It came on the suspicion that the main coordinator of EF was keen to send Konstantin by rule violations home early to place another student in a host family can be brushed and multiple commissions. This approach is confirmed by the ex-EF-coordinator William Alexander, who turned in his resignation to the Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in Washington.

Alexander pointed out that Sandra Woods had brought more exchange students into the country for profit than there were in families. Sandra Woods was a “very unethical person” that should not work with young exchange students. And: “She is very driven by money.”

In addition, Alexander confirmed that Woods against Constantine had a personal aversion. So much so that they instigated another student to invite the Swiss students at a party serving alcohol, then call the police to display the 16-year-olds and to send him home for this offense according to Alexander. William Alexander was finally who found a new host family for Constantine, in which he – could bring his EF High School Year to end – this time happy and quite adaptable.

“He’s a punk»

Behind the scenes, the case reached a higher layer of bureaucracy after various interventions of the mother. Danielle Grijalva, director of the Committee for Safety of foreign students in California, turned in May 2013 also at the Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in Washington with a complaint against Sandra Woods. This is in addition to the general remark that foreign exchange students would always exploited and mistreated (“Abuse of foreign exchange students remains rampant”) quotes from the SMS communication between Sandra Woods and William Alexander concerning Constantine. In it expresses Woods foul-mouthed about Constantine: “I wish We could just send his ass home.” (“I wish we could just send home this A … He will make me all year problems..”) Or, ” He’s a punk. “(” He’s a bastard. “)

In an article in the “K-Tips» Grijalva are also following the record: “The problem of EF and similar organizations, that they can not find enough suitable host families. . Therefore, the children are constantly back and forth “And:” If there is a problem, it always means the students are to blame – but never the host family, the Service Representative or the intermediary organization “.

Grijalva also criticized the system of remuneration for EF-workers, who worked on a commission basis. Per exchange students there were at least 300 dollars. The more students would accommodate EF-workers, the more bonuses they would get. And the higher is also the bonus per student.

No financial compensation

Between the Mother Frances Stocklin and the Zurich office of EF took place on March 19, 2013 – also after the mother various interventions – a conversation in which EF Switzerland according Stöcklin have come to see that in the fall of Constantinople the one mediated by EF students attributable care not work. “Before, I was always treated by EF Switzerland as a mother who just will not accept that her son does not follow the rules. An actual review of many plain misinformation from the United States did not make EF. “EF Switzerland have said at this week accepted that their service promise was not kept and the communication of Sandra Woods was unacceptable. EF Switzerland, however, has reacted subsequently either on the mother’s call for an official apology before Constantine, still offered the company a financial compensation.

EF is silent

As part of the research for this article, Mario Tschopp, program director EF High School Year Exchange, position as follows: “The case is known to us, and we have taken the next internal steps. However, we ask for your understanding that we take for reasons of protection of privacy on matters relating to individual customer and working conditions in the public no comment. “So it remains unclear whether Sandra Woods continues in California has been working as general coordinator of EF and Swiss exchange student care.

EF Education: Erika Travel Insurance / Efekta Insurance / Aetna Insurance

Originally posted on my blog Trygghetforutvekslingseleven. Please remember that Erika Insurance is part of the EF/Hult Empire and that there is a potential danger of a conflict of interest if a problem arises that EF is responsible for.

Erika Försäkringsab (publ) / Erika Travel Insurance and Finance

Erika Försäkringsab (publ) (Org.nr: 516401-8581: 1995): Stureplan 4, Sturegallerian 11A, 114 35 Stockholm / Box 55569, 102 04 Stockholm: Tel: 08-58793220: http://www.erikainsurance.com

  • Student Insurance Information (do’s and don’ts)
  • To find a doctor covered by Erika/Aetna
  • In case of medical emergency:
    • German, Swiss, Austrian or Dutch students should contact AXA Assistance – 1-800-847-3948
    • Italian students should contact Inter Partner Assistance – 1-800-472-6705
    • All other nationalities should contact Falck TravelCare – 1-800-871-9211
Health Claims/Appeals for the Aetna Student Health Travel Insurance-EF (Erika Insurance): Aetna, PO Box 14101, Lexington, KY 40512: Tel: (+1) 781 219 9100 / Fax: (+1) 441 296 0772
Remember that Erika Insurance and Aetna insurance are separate companies; however, Erika works with Aetna and Aetna is the name that healthcare providers will recognize!
  • Manager: Lars Anders Lundquist
    Chairman: Staffan Gunnar Ericsson
    CEO: Bill Erling Andreasson
    Board: Åsa Elisabeth Staffansdotter Blendow
    Board: Karin Maria Elisabeth Ström
    Board: Per Jonas Kjerfve
Erika reports to EF Cultural Tours AB. EF Cultural Tours reports to Universal Care S.a.r.l. Erika Travel Insurance is one of the daughter firms of EF and Bertil Hult’s empire.

EF has worked with Erika Insurance for 17 years – it’s our strong recommendation that all students have the Erika insurance while attending an EF school.

Erika is a tailor-made insurance including everything from medical, property, delay, interruption and liability coverage. (EF)

Hult International Business School

Subject to change. Insurance plans are provided by AETNA for US locations, Erika Medical insurance for London, Dubai, and Shanghai.

Erika insures the following EF programs:

  • Academic Year Abroad
  • Cultural Care – Au Pair
  • EF English First
  • EF High School Exchange Year
  • Language Courses Abroad

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Efekta Insurance International, Ltd.:

(Reg.no: 35879): Bermudiana Arcade – 3rd floor, 27 Queen Street, HM11 Hamilton Bermuda: Tel: +41.41 417 4500 / (+1) 441-296-9080 / Fax: +41.41 417 4671 / (+1) 441-296 0772: http://www.efektainsurance.com/

  • Tobias Sjöberg (Director of Operations)

Health Claims/Appeals for the Aetna Student Health Travel Insurance-EF (Erika Insurance): Aetna, PO Box 14101, Lexington, KY 40512: Tel: (+1) 781 219 9100 / Fax: (+1) 441 296 0772

Efekta’s policies are governed by Bermudian laws. Efekta has listed as their customers:

  • Go Ahead Tours
  • EF Educational Tours – US
  • EF Educational Tours – Canada
  • EF College Break and
  • EF College Study Tours

Emergency Assistance while on tour: AXA Assistance: Garmischer Str 10, D-80339 Munich, Germany: Tel: (+49) 89 500 704 849 (24 hrs) / +1 (800) 847 3948 (24 hrs toll-free, USA and Canada) / Fax: (+49) 89 500 70 394: E-mail: efekta@axa-assistance.de

Efekta Group, Inc (Reg.no.DE: 4838748 – Jun 23, 2010 – Domestic)

  • Efekta Group, Inc (Reg.no.MA: 001031180 – Jun 24, 2010 – Foreign)
    One Education St, Cambridge MA 02141
  • Martha Dolye (President), Bruce Strong (Treasurer/Secretary), Rosa Gyllenhaal (Director), Susanna Pesteny (Director)

Efekta International Language Schools, Inc. (Reg.no.MA: 043078199 – 1989 – Domestic): 1 Memorial Dr., Cambridge, MA 02142

  • Peter Nilsson (President), Robert Tejme (Secretary)

Efekta Institute, Inc. (Reg.no.DE: 043414628 – 1998 – Domestic)

  • (Reg.no.MA: 043414628 – 1999 – Foreign): One Education Street
    Cambridge, MA 02141
  • (Reg.no.FL: F00000007136 – 2000 – Foreign): One Education Street
    Cambridge, MA 02141
  • Jens Appelkvist (Director/President/PD), Louise Hellestam (Director), Rosa Gyllenhaal (Secretary/Treasurer)

Efekta Schools, Inc. (Reg.no.MA: 043337221 – 1996 – Domestic): One Education St.
Cambridge, MA 02141

  • Colorado: 17 Chateau Ln, Avon, CO 81620-0000
  • (Reg.no.CA: C1995267 – 1996 – Foreign): 2710 Gateway Oaks Dr Ste 150n, Sacramento, CA 95833: Lawyers Incorporating Service
  • Jens Appelkvist (Director/President), Louise Hellestam (Director), Rosa Gyllenhaal (Secretary/Treasurer)

Efekta Academy, Inc. (Reg.no.DE: 5366655 – 2013 – Domestic)

Efekta House, Inc. (Reg.no.DE: 4838749 – 2010 – Domestic)

  • (Reg.no.MA: 001031175 – 2010 – Foreign)
  • Martha H. Doyle (President), Rosa Gyllenhaal (Director), Bruce Strong (Treasurer)

Efekta Cabrillo, Inc. (Reg.no.DE: 5593695 – 2014 – Domestic)

  • (Reg.no.CA: C3708223 – 2014 – Foreign): 2710 Gateway Oaks Dr Ste 150n, Sacramento CA 95833
  • Lawyers Incorporating Service

Efekta IA, Inc.

  • (Reg.no.NY: 4440109 – 2013 – Foreign): One Education Street
    Cambridge, MA 02141

Reviews:


Aetna Life Insurance Company

All Erika Travel Insurance Claims while in the USA/Canada, regardless of nationality. Health Claims/Appeals for the *Aetna Student Health Travel Insurance-EF (Erika Insurance): Aetna, PO Box 14101, Lexington, KY 40512: Tel: (+1) 781 219 9100 (business hrs) / 800-783-7447 (toll-free in USA and Canada) / Fax: (+1) 859-280-1269 / Fax: (+1) 441 296 0772: erika@aetna.com – https://www.aetnastudenthealth.com

Aetna Student Health Agency, Inc. : (Reg.no.MA: 042708160 – 1980 – Domestic)

Principal address: One Charles Park, Cambridge MA 02142 / 1010 Commonwealth Ave,
Boston MA 02215-1201
Mailing address: 151 Farmington Ave., Hartford CT 06156-0001, USA: Tel: +1 (860) 636 4460 / Fax: +1 (860) 636 2303 / 111 Eight Ave, New York New York 10011

Officers: Chekesha C. Kidd (CEO/President/Director), Scott Albert Champagne (President/Director), Maryellen Pease (Chief Financial Officer/Vice President), Alfred Paul Quirk (Treasurer), Jerry John Bellizzi (Secretary), Edward C. Lee (Secretary), Valerie B. Sideris (Assistant Secretary), Jan Penney (Controller)


AXA Assistance Deutschland GmbH

All emergencies, and all claims (except claims while in USA/Canada) for travelers from Austria, Belgium, Germany, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxemburg, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic while in the USA/Canada are handled by:

*Aetna Student Health
c/o IPAS GmbH, Grosse Scharrnstr. 36, D-15230 Frankfurt/Oder, Germany

AXA Assistance, Asia
All emergencies, and all claims except while in USA/Canada (= Chickering*), for travelers from Asia except Japan and Korea.
4-08 Amoda Building, 22 Jalan Imbi, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Tel: (+60) 3-205 357 57 (24 hrs) / Fax: (+60) 3-214 589 89 / Email: erika@axa-assistance.com.my

Inter Partner Assistance S.A., Italy

All emergencies, and claims for travelers from Italy, except for claims while in USA/Canada which are handled by Aetna Student Health for long-term students.
Via Bernardino Alimena 111, I-00173 (RM) Roma, Italy: Tel: (+39) 06-42115 551 (24 hrs) / 1 800 472 6705 (toll-free in US/CA) / Fax: (+39) 06-42115 243 / Email: servizio.erikaef@ip-assistance.com

Falck Travel Care

All emergencies, and claims except for claims while in USA/Canada for travelers from Scandinavia, Latin America, North America, Asia and all other nationalites not specified elsewhere. Claims while the USA/Canada are handled by Aetna Student Health.
P.O. Box 44024, SE-100 73 Stockholm, Sweden: Tel: (+46) 8-501 001 60 (24 hrs) / 800-871 9211 (24 hrs toll-free in USA and Canada) / Fax: (+46) 8-505 939 13 / Email: erika@falcktravelcare.com

*Chickering Claims Administrators, Inc.

Chickering Claims Administrators, Inc. operates as a subsidiary of Aetna Health Holdings, LLC.: 25 First Street, Cambridge MA 02141, United States / : Telephone: 617-679-9768, Founded 1991,  Frederick H Chicos, president

Chickering Claims Administrators, Inc.: P.O. Box 15708, Boston, MA 02215 / 1 Charles Park, Cambridge, MA 02142-1254: Medical Providers Call: +1 (866) 639-1334 [Toll Free] / Insureds Call:  +1(888) 308-7320 [Toll Free] / +1 (817) 809-4700 [DFW Metroplex] / +1 (817) 479-2155 [Fax].

Call anytime (United States only). Nurses are available 24-hours a day. To reach a nurse, call 1-800-556-1555. TDD for hearing and speech-impaired people only: 1-800-270-238, (619)298-7575 / Email: erikasvc@chickering.com / Website: http://www.chickering.com takes you to Aetna Student Health

Officers (see Aetna’s): Katharine Begley (President), Alfred Quirk (Treasurer), Edward Lee (Secretary), Maryellen Pease (CFO), Jan Penney (Controller), Katharine Begley (Director)

Articles and reviews:

2004: «Since the divestment of third party business in 2003, there has been a significant increase in the credit and liquidity risk associated with Erika as it cedes 85% of the gross premiums written to Efekta, (EF’s reinsurance captive based in Bermuda). Credit and liquidity risk is further exacerbated by a non-callable loan arrangement between Efekta and an EF group subsidiary.»

2007: CSFES Helps Foreign Exchange Students

by NORTH COUNTRY GAZETTE on MAY 11, 2007
By Danielle Grijalva, CSFES Director

Approximately 30,000 teenage exchange students will return to their home countries next month.

The Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students (CSFES) shares the following true story regarding the treatment of an exchange student by his student exchange company.

Jay’s stomach rumbled as he sat in his counselor’s office. His eyes would move down as he looked at the pencil his counselor held and then he looked up to his counselor’s mouth as he spoke on the phone to the area representative of his student exchange company.

He was exhausted and his energy was lost; this very well may be time for him to give in to returning to Thailand four months early. To return to his family who loved him didn’t sound like such a bad idea.

Mr. Ashurst would shade in the numbers on his desk calendar with his pencil and occasionally look over at Jay who was sitting in front of his desk. Occasionally Jay would see him write something down on a separate notepad, but for the most part, shading in the numbers is what occupied him most as he listened to Mrs. Wallen.

“Now may I say something, Mrs. Wallen?” Mr. Ashurst calmly spoke. “While I am not quite sure if you are interested in hearing what I have to say, I believe I’ve been patient with you and now I would like to ask the same from you. When Jay arrived, he had missed five weeks of school through no fault of his own. He has since maintained a 4.2 GPA and is active in many after school activities. Jay is well liked by anyone who comes into contact with him. Although he is quite shy, he has made friends, many of whom have taken it upon themselves to write letters on his behalf. Not one person wants him to return to Thailand early, Mrs. Wallen. My notes tell me that you have labeled this student as manipulative — please, let me finish. My notes reflect on four separate occasions you have called this young man a liar — please, I’m not done. Essentially you have told me he is nothing more than a spoiled rotten brat who is impossible to please and has been a troublemaker from the beginning.”

Jay was uncomfortable hearing Mr. Ashurst’s conversation, but also liked it at the same time. There was no more shading in the numbers on his desk calendar. Mr. Ashurst was now standing.

“Since I can tell, Mrs. Wallen, that we are not going to have a meeting of the mind about Jay, I prefer to discuss this matter with the State Department —” Mrs. Wallen had heard enough and abruptly ended the call. This was fine by Mr. Ashurst.

Mr. Ashurst reached in his desk and grabbed for his car keys. “Jay, I’m hungry. Grab your backpack, I’m taking you to lunch.”

“Yes, sir.” Jay softly responded.

During lunch, Mr. Ashurst learned from an ever so soft-spoken 16-year-old boy that it had been two days since he had anything to eat.

His last four weeks had been spent sleeping on a mattress in a basement.

The reason he didn’t tell his parents in Thailand is because he didn’t want to cause them to worry.

The reason he missed five weeks of school was because he did not have a host family waiting for him as he and his family were promised.

Against the United States Department of State regulations, he lived in the home of his area representative where he was told that he had better keep his mouth shut about the matter; that if he did complain to anyone, he would be sent home early to Thailand.

His parents in Thailand spent $16,000 for this experience.

It was in the basement of his area representative where he spent his last four weeks.

CSFES is pleased to report Jay was removed from the basement and placed in an actual home where he is thriving.

This is not an isolated incident as the exchange industry would like for you to believe.

CSFES urges all school administrators to report to the CSFES via www.csfes.org  or by calling 866-471-9203 should any students with a similar story appear at their high school.   5-11-07

2008 Jun 03: Agency dumps coordinators of foreign teens

FAYETTEVILLE : Agency dumps coordinators of foreign teens

BY ROBERT J. SMITH, Northwest Arkansas’ News Source, June 3, 2008

http://www.nwanews.com/adg/News/227602/

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-179680062.html

“State Department investigators learned that EF Foundation failed to ensure that foreign exchange students had appropriate host families and homes before they arrived in the U. S.  The foundation also allowed some students to live in the Drummond home, a violation of federal regulations that forbid company representatives from serving as a student’s host family, State Department officials said.”

Complete story:

Education First Foundation of Foreign Study on Monday fired a Fayetteville couple in charge of finding host families for foreign exchange students arriving in Arkansas.

EF Foundation’s decision to fire Gerald and Sherry Drummond came hours after Fayetteville High School said that it will no longer accept foreign students brought to Arkansas by the Cambridge, Mass.-based company.

“They called us this morning and told us with the decision of Fayetteville High School that they were going to ask us to not work with them anymore,” Gerald Drummond said Monday. “I go with what they ask.

” We’re just ordinary nobodies, but I enjoy life and I enjoy meeting people. We get things written about us like we’re trying to take advantage of exchange students instead of it being a positive thing.”

Alan Wilbourn, the Fayetteville School District spokesman, said high school counselors spent too much time resolving difficulties encountered by EF Foundation students. That led to the decision to stop working with the company, he said.

“They’ve spent days handling living situations, and that’s supposed to be taken care of before they get here,” Wilbourn said.

The school district’s ban of EF Foundation students comes five months after the U. S. State Department began investigating EF Foundation’s Arkansas operation. The Drummonds accepted their first foreign exchange student as a host family eight years ago and eventually became the company’s Arkansas coordinators.

State Department investigators learned that EF Foundation failed to ensure that foreign exchange students had appropriate host families and homes before they arrived in the U. S. The foundation also allowed some students to live in the Drummond home, a violation of federal regulations that forbid company representatives from serving as a student’s host family, State Department officials said.

The findings in the State Department’s investigation, which involved six students at Fayetteville High School and one each at Fayetteville Christian School and Missouri Boulevard Baptist School, have not been made public.

Counselors and school administrators in Fayetteville interviewed by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in December said foreign students associated with EF Foundation felt isolated, scared and appeared to be malnourished.

Those characterizations are unfair, Gerald Drummond said Monday. He said there are students who lived in his home who remain in contact with him. Over the eight years, 14 foreign exchange students lived with the Drummonds, he said.

“I’m just sad to see it come to a crashing end,” he said. “We’re not the terrible people the world thinks we are.”

EF Foundation spokesman Ellen Manz wouldn’t say why the Drummonds were let go. A replacement hasn’t been selected. The company knew the Fayetteville school was considering banning EF Foundation students from enrolling, Manz said.

“Although this is a disappointing decision, it will not have a material impact on our program either in Arkansas or nationwide,” Manz writes in an e-mail. “We will certainly visit Fayetteville High School in the fall to discuss their experiences with EF, and see if we can give them the confidence in our program to consider accepting our students in 2009-10.”

Heather Slinkard, a Bella Vista woman who is area manager for a foreign exchange student company called Peace 4 Kids Inc., said EF Foundation’s troubles in Arkansas hurt the overall image of foreign exchange programs.

“They did give us all a black eye, but more than that, they hurt students,” Slinkard said.

State Sen. Sue Madison, DFayetteville, who wants the state to more closely monitor the placement of foreign exchange students at high schools, said she was pleased to hear the company fired the Drummonds.

“I’m happy to see EF take some firm action,” Madison said. “Maybe they’ll get somebody good.”

Copyright (c) 2001-2008 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Student Exchange Agency:  Education First Foundation of Foreign Study (EF)

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2007: Exchange Group Gets Probe After Teens Complain