February 9, 2017: The Adventist denomination’s local conference in West Virginia issued a statement today addressing the Miracle Meadows School that was closed by authorities in 2014, had criminal charges filed against staff and is now the target of a lawsuit. Adventist Today reported on the lawsuit and previous problems yesterday in a news story that can be read here.
The denomination’s Mountain View Conference stated, “We are troubled by the allegations made against Miracle Meadows School as we would be any time we hear of allegations where young people may have been harmed or abused.” The statement clarified that the school “is independent of the Seventh-day Adventist Church [which] did not operate, own, finance, or control Miracle Meadows School [and] we also were not aware of any abuse by Miracle Meadows School or its personnel prior to the 2014 police investigation reported in the media that ultimately shut the school down.” The statement also noted that the conference has been named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Because the Adventist denomination operates the largest Protestant educational system in the world, more than 7,800 educational institutions in more than 100 countries, preschool through university, it is often assumed that all Adventist schools are part of that system under the supervision and control of the denomination’s Education Department. Miracle Meadows was one of many independent schools operated by Adventists who are not denominational employees, essentially private businesses even if incorporated as nonprofit organizations.
“The Mountain View Conference currently operates six accredited schools serving Pre-K through 12th grade,” the statement said. “Our schools are owned by the church, are operated by the church, are financed by the church, and fall under the control of our Mountain View Conference Board of Education. Our schools and institutions follow policies and procedures designed to protect children and abuse of any kind is not tolerated.”