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TCBA counselors busted for providing alcohol to underage students

Campus closed until January; Staff members and Principal terminated

 HUERFANO — During an investigation of a possible runaway juvenile from The Career Building Academy (TCBA) west of Walsenburg, a sheriff’s deputy came across a case of contributing to the delinquency of a minor involving two counselors at the facility. According to TCBA Founder and President Rick Johnson, three staff members, including the principal, Dennis Hoyt, a newly seated member of the Walsenburg City Council, have been fired. Johnson told the World Journal this week the campus is now closed and students have been transferred back to their original school districts for the time being. Johnson said TCBA board of directors made the decision to close the Walsenburg facility until the second week in January 2016. “We will be re-organizing for the second semester

before we reopen,” Johnson said. “This is really disturbing for us,” Johnson said, saying this kind of thing has not happened in their facilities before now. “This was a real shocker, I was notified at 5 am Thursday (Nov. 19), and I got into my truck and came straight down.” He said the Walsenburg campus is the premiere facility in The Career Building Academy program. Johnson said four students have returned to their Peyton/Colorado Springs charter school and three have returned to their school in Pueblo. At 11:43 pm Wednesday, November 18 Huerfano County Sheriff’s Deputy Corey Daniels responded to the alternative trades school on a report of a 16-year old male runaway. Deputy Daniels made contact with the juvenile who said he had run away in an attempt to avoid a confrontation with other students he said were bullying him. The deputy met with the two counselors on duty, Taylor Miles, 22, and Dalton Crowell-Brewer, 21. In his report the deputy said when Crowell-Brewer came out of his dorm room, he detected an odor of an alcoholic beverage on him. Daniels report said Crowell-Brewer allegedly told him that he had drunk two beers after the kids had gone to bed. The student who had runaway reportedly told the deputy the counselors were at the school drinking with students, allegedly saying this had gone on in the past as well. The students staying at the facility were called into the commons area and deputy Daniels suspected they too, had been drinking. The Colorado State Patrol was notified and dispatched a trooper to administer alcohol breath tests. The field breath tests indicated the juveniles had been drinking and Daniels’ report said Crowell-Brewer’s speech was slurred. During his interviews, one of the other students allegedly told Daniels some of the kids had broken into the staff refrigerator and obtained the alcohol that way. As the investigation progressed, however, the student backed away from that statement and said the counselors had provided alcohol to the youth. Miles allegedly told the deputy she had gone out to get beer for the juveniles and that Crowell-Brewer had not been involved. Later in the investigation three black trash bags containing empty alcohol containers were found in the bed of Crowell-Brewer’s pick up truck. When Deputy Daniels told Crowell-Brewer and Miles they would be arrested for contributing to the delinquency of minors, Crowell-Brewer allegedly ran out of the building reportedly saying he wasn’t going to be arrested. Daniels chased the counselor to an area on a balcony of the building where the counselor threatened to jump, saying he had been suicidal in the past. Daniels was able to get Crowell-Brewer into custody and noticed the counselor was bleeding slightly from his wrists. A small knife was taken off of the counselor and authorities believe his cuts were self inflicted. Miles and Crowell-Brewer were arrested and charged with the class four felony of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Crowell-Brewer was also charged with resisting arrest, a class two misdemeanor. Both were booked into the Huerfano County Jail in the early morning hours of November 20 with bond set at $15,000 for the felony charge and an additional $750 bond for Crowell-Brewer on the resisting charge. Both counselors were released on bond. At least three juveniles were charged with minor in possession of alcohol and the county department of social services contacted the youth’s parents to come to Walsenburg and take custody of their children. Crowell-Brewer, Miles and Hoyt were terminated from their positions by Johnson when he came to Walsenburg on November 20. When asked if he had a comment regarding the incident, Hoyt said since he was no longer affiliated with the academy, he did not. The TCBA website states the organization’s mission statement as, “The focus of this campus is to fast-track students to graduation with intensive academics and extended work experience. Students leave this program with a high school diploma and experience they can put on their resume.”